Junior mechanical engineering major Ethan Schwartz is gaining real-world experience in the classroom as an honors program student and as the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Kirby Scholar of engineering. The Northampton, Pa., native knows that hands-on experience will put him at the top when it comes time for looking for post-graduation opportunities.
“One of the things that is the strongest and most powerful offerings that Wilkes has for its students is that a lot of the professors have industry experience,” Schwartz explains. “Having that and bringing it back to the classroom really shows you how real everything we’re doing is.”
Being taught by faculty members with industry experience was huge for Schwartz. He says that professors Robert Taylor, faculty of practice and chair of engineering, Edward Bednarz, associate professor of mechanical engineering, and William Greiner, faculty of practice in mechanical engineering, have all had an impact on his Wilkes education.
Noting the course mechanical machine design taught by Bednarz as a favorite, he says it has sparked possibilities for his future as he continues through his final semesters. He has been able to apply some of what he learned in the course in his work as a Kirby Scholar. Being a Kirby Scholar in engineering has allowed him to see the engineering as well as the production side of things.
Schwartz currently serves on the intellectual property committee at the Kirby Center where he works “with patents and prior art, as well as doing searches for clients on a program called Innovation Q. Innovation Q is a patent searching software that searches for prior art and preexisting patents on innovations or inventions our clients may come up with.” He adds that most of his experience exists in 3-D modeling and renderings as well as reporting cost analysis, manufacturability and serviceability. “In the real world, this is a $10-20,000 project. But since we’re in a university setting it’s totally different,” he adds.
At the center, Schwartz has been working with a current client, Mt. Everetts Frozen Creations, a company co-founded by Wilkes alumnus Troy Everetts ’17. Schwartz and other Kirby scholars have been designing the factory production facility layout. The company produces gourmet Italian ice infused with Cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil.
Outside of Wilkes, Schwartz has also landed internships with The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, where he completed road surveys, recorded data on roads, drainage and guardrails as part of quality assurance. This summer, he will be interning with PPL Corporation, an energy company, through their engineering, internships and co-ops program.
When not on the job or in class, Schwartz finds time to participate in clubs such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Schwartz was in charge of ramping up their social media presence for the group’s annual car show which was held in April.
This past spring, Schwartz also attended a spring break trip through the class International Business Trip Experience. He traveled to Zürich, Switzerland, Munich, Germany, Vienna, Austria and Liechtenstein. One of his favorite memories was a trip to Neuschwannstein Castle, which was the inspiration for the design of the castle in Disney Magic Kingdom. Schwartz says, “We got to go to the little town at the base of the mountain… We got a nice tour of the inside of the facility it was gorgeous… Before we went down, we went out on the balcony and it started to snow.”
Reflecting on his college experience, Schwartz notes that friendship, opportunity and investment have marked his time at Wilkes. “Friendship within the people I’ve met here even before coming, the professors, everyone in that sense. Opportunity, in that what you put into this program is what you’ll get out of it. And investment, that this is where I wanted to put my time and money and get something in return.”