Spotlight on: Brian Strevens, Operations Analyst for a Defense Contractor
The STEM: Innovation and Leadership series is currently open for submissions! Under the leadership of Dr. Pamela McCauley and the Transforming Your STEM Career team, in partnership with CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group, this series aims to amplify the stories of people in STEM fields to help establish their reputations and encourage the future generation of STEM professionals. In celebration of this book series, we’re putting the spotlight on a dynamic person in STEM each month.
Introducing Brian Strevens
Brian Strevens didn’t always envision himself as an engineer. In fact, he had his sights set on a career as a professional baseball player at the start of his high school career. However, his path changed after a dynamic motivational speaker introduced him to the world of industrial engineering.
After discovering that spark, Brian went on to dive headlong into his studies. He pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering at the University of Central Florida; during his time there, he oversaw a 9-person senior design team in creating a discrete-event simulation to analyze the process of refueling on Mars. Under his leadership, his team won the Industrial Engineering category at UCF’s Senior Design Day, and their study was published by SAE.
Brian is an avid learner and always hungry for knowledge. Currently, he is pursuing a Master’s of Science in Engineering Management from Southern Methodist University, scheduled to graduate this summer.
The Life of an Operations Analyst
When I asked Brian what a typical workday looks like for an operations analyst, he told me that there was no such thing as a typical day. In his current role, Brian works on a myriad of overlapping projects that may all require different types of analyses and skill sets. Operating in a constant state of flow lets Brian consider himself a jack-of-all-trades as he constantly updates his “engineer’s toolbox” with new methods and information.
Brian notes that adaptability is both his greatest challenge and his greatest reward. In an increasingly digital world, software solutions for specific problems are almost infinite. A good engineer can pick up a new software and use it to discover new solutions for the challenges you have to overcome. “Even if you aren’t the most technically sound,” said Brian, “but are capable of adapting to your project’s current needs, you will thrive in STEM.”
Brian’s Insights for the Next Generation of Engineers
If you’re a person that enjoys learning and is constantly seeking new knowledge, Brian believes you’ll find a place for yourself in a STEM career. “The world’s toughest challenges are solved by those who work in STEM, and that feeling of contributing to something much greater than yourself makes all those long nights and tough days worth it,” he said. He gains a great feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment not only from seeing the impact of his work manifest in the real world, but also from the skills he picks up along the way.
It’s so important to discover your passion for STEM early in life so you have the opportunity to dive into your passions and join organizations that will help you join your ideal career. Brian credits volunteering during high school as a way to learn more about his interests outside of work and school. Above all, keep an open mind and be confident in your work.