Master's Profile: Shagun Maheshwari
Current Position: Mechanical Engineer at Applied Materials (Sunnyvale, California)
Undergraduate: BE in Mechanical Engineering, University of Pune (India)
Duke MEMS Path: Masters of Science (MS) in Mechanical Engineering, 2016
What do you do at your job?
I work as a mechanical engineer at Applied Materials' Global Services Division. Applied Materials is a materials engineering company that provides equipment and software for processing semiconductor wafers to make computer microprocessors and display screens. In the Applied Global Services division, we work on the consumable parts that our products need. My job entails mechanical design work for these parts, material characterization of the parts, and figuring out how we can make designs more cost effective for the company. In my day-to-day activities I collaborate with manufacturing engineers, other design engineers, electrical engineers, process engineers and material scientists to make better design changes and effectively solve problems.
How did your time at Duke prepare you for your current job?
The most valuable thing Duke has given me—besides my degree—are the opportunities to figure out I wanted to do, what I enjoyed and what I did not enjoy. It gave me the platform to interact with amazing people, both students and professors, with whom I could learn from and be inspired by. My time as an Master of Science (MS) student at Duke taught me to ask a lot of questions and be curious–to communicate with different types of people and get out of my comfort zone. All of these experiences have made me a better problem-solver as well as a better communicator—both very important skills in not only my current job but in day-to-day life as well.
What was the most valuable part of your Duke experience?
Duke gave me exposure to great classes, some of the best research labs and some really cool people. When I came to Duke I was interested in biomechanics and fluid mechanics, and Duke gave me the chance to explore both! I got a chance to work in a biology lab and to meet some of the top researchers in biomechanics. I had an opportunity to explore my passions and figure out new interests.For example,I got to work on a microfluidics project in Chuan-Hua Chen's Microscale Physiochemical Hydrodynamics lab, where I worked at the intersection of material science, physics, fluid mechanics and electrostatics.
What were the most useful courses you took at Duke?
I had the chance to take a lot of fascinating courses during my time at Duke. The course MATH 551: Applied Partial Differential Equations and Complex Variables was easily one of the most challenging classes I took while at Duke. My professor, Thomas P. Witelski, is amazing. Doing well in his class was very rewarding, as it taught me how to think in mathematical terms. ME 531: Engineering Thermodynamics by Adrian Bejan taught me how to think about thermodynamic systems in a more simple and elegant way, and this class strengthened my understanding of this field. The course Biomedical Device Innovation was an amazing class where I got to shadow Dr. Mani Daneshmand, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Duke University Hospital, for a semester. I observed surgeries and proposed a design solution for an engineering need in the hospital. This experience was unique and it taught me how much of a difference I could make as an engineer.
What advice would you give to someone considering a master's degree in MEMS at Duke?
My advice for future Duke MEMS students is to come with an open mind and to soak in all that Duke has to offer. There are so many things to do and so much to explore in just two years. I think future students should explore their interests in interdisciplinary and neighboring fields and take advantage of all the resources (talks, guest lectures, libraries, classes) Duke has to offer. One other thing that is great about Duke is the people you get to meet while at school. You will meet some of your best connections, friends and mentors while at Duke. I encourage future students to get out of their comfort zone and try as many things as they can!