by Beth LaMontagne
Robert Englehardt knows how it feels to be wanted. The University of New Hampshire at Manchester graduate found himself working at BAE Systems shortly after receiving an Electrical Engineering Technology degree in 2013. After working with BAE during his senior capstone project BAE during his senior year, he was approached more than once about staying on full-time.
“While I was here they had me interview for a senior design position that they were hoping to get me in,” said Englehardt. “I didn’t get that job because they were looking for someone who had like 20 years of experience, but two months after I graduated from UNH Manchester, they called me out of the blue and asked if I could start work on Monday.”
Englehardt is humble about his move from doing his capstone research with BAE to employee, but does acknowledge that his ability to think on his feet, troubleshoot problems and work on his own – skills learned at UNH Manchester and during his internship – helped him launch his career.
Englehardt is one of many UNH Manchester graduates who took a nontraditional approach to completing his degree. After graduating from Pinkerton Academy, Englehardt worked in the culinary field, trying to figure out his eventual career path. The work was hard and the pay was not very good, he said, so after a few years he decided to go back to school.
Englehardt started at Manchester Community College, then went on to New Hampshire Technical Institute. He worked full-time while attending classes, and once he earned his associate degree, it was on to UNH Manchester.
It took him three years, but being able to work and attend classes is ultimately what allowed Englehardt to succeed. During his final year at UNH Manchester, Englehardt landed an internship at BAE Systems as part of his capstone project requirement. What he learned during the months he spent there laid the foundation for his work at BAE today, he said.
“They treated me almost like an employee. They said, here’s what you’re going to do and go do it,” said Englehardt.
It was that hands-on learning and the ability to figure out problems on his own was what has helped him most looking back on his time at UNH Manchester.
“The job I’m doing now, they don’t have time to hold your hand,” Englehardt said. “When you go to school for a medical degree, you get training in a specific area, you specialize in a way. In engineering, they have specialties like mechanical engineering versus electrical engineering, but an electrical engineer can be many things. The field is so broad you almost can’t teach it. It’s more about learning general skills and how to figure things out.”
Looking back on his journey from working in the food service industry to one of the top defense firms in the world, Englehardt said it helped to have great teachers along the way.
“The education [at UNH Manchester] was really good and I met really good teachers,” Englehardt said. “There were a lot of teachers that made me want to come to class instead of just showing up to get a grade.”
BAE Systems is located just a short drive from Derry, where Englehardt grew up. Being so close to home was a big reason for attending UNH Manchester, but it has also provided an added bonus, being so close to major firms like BAE. The Manchester campus allowed Englehardt to attend school, work full-time and participate in the Engineering program's senior capstone course.
“There are a lot of great schools in the area,” said Englehardt. “What it came down to is location.”
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