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Faculty Profile: Gregg Johnson, Electrical Engineering Technology

Friday, October 12, 2012

Pictured is Gregg Johnson, Ph.D., associate professor of electrical engineering technology.

Gregg Johnson, Ph.D., was recently appointed associate professor of electrical engineering technology for the Department of Natural Sciences and Engineering Technology. Johnson
has more than 15 years of experience working in and directing research and development teams in a wide range of environments, from government research labs to start-up companies to multinational corporations. Most recently, he was manager of hardware engineering at Cisco Systems in Atlanta, Ga.

Johnson earned a Bachelor of Arts in experimental physics from Gustavus Adolphus College and a Ph.D. in physics with a research focus in electronic circuits from Ohio University. This semester he is teaching courses in Differential Equations, Communication Electronics and Digital Electronics II.

Who inspired you to pursue the field of engineering?

I had some great professors as an undergraduate in addition to my graduate advisor. They were all very hands-on, especially when it came to electronics. They instilled a mindset (and confidence) in me that if you need something, and can’t buy it – build it! It was a revelation, really, that they believed I had the ability and the knowledge to do it, but in retrospect why not? So, ever since, I’ve gravitated to jobs where I can invent and build hardware, and have been doing so for the past 15 years.

What attracted you to teaching at Point Park University?

I attended a liberal arts college as an undergrad and really loved it. I believe a well-rounded education serves all majors well, engineering being no exception. I decided that if I was able to pursue a career in academia that it would definitely be at a liberal arts institution, and I limited my search accordingly. In addition, I was really drawn to the emphasis at Point Park on teaching. The students here have great access to the professors, and may not even realize that it’s not like that everywhere.

What career advice do you have for our electrical engineering technology students?

Get ready! Today’s technology workplace is highly competitive. Development groups are lean and need strong performances from all team members. The demands on you will be high, but the rewards are there too. Interestingly, instead of raises and bonuses, numerous studies have shown that engineers are more motivated by getting to work on cool stuff. If that sounds about right to you, you’ve chosen the right profession. (Don’t worry; there will also be raises and bonuses along the way.)

Learn to collaborate with your fellow students as much as you can. There are very few engineering jobs where you work in isolation on your own project. Effective collaboration is actually a skill that needs to be developed over time, and it will be expected on your first day of work.

Don’t go in with the expectation that the skill-set you have today will be all you need for your career. You will need to continually educate yourself so hopefully your employer will provide the right opportunities for you to do so. Similarly, don’t expect that a given specialization will be as relevant tomorrow as it is today. Be ready to reinvent yourself when you need to, or you could be left behind. (I’ve recently watched it happen!)

 

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