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Engineering is right fit for vet
Engineering is right fit for vet

Already living Portland and with a baby on the way, Jack O’Neal ’15 chose PSU’s Mechanical and Materials Engineering program over industrial engineering programs at other universities for its proximity and convenience, but he soon found mechanical engineering was a true fit for his interests.

In a year-long freshman engineering sequence, he immediately learned the basics through the hands-on class, which he describes as more like an engineering camp.

“It was really fun and very challenging, and it was the first time PSU offered the class,” he says. “It’s one of the reasons I stuck with the program.”

That interest in practical engineering paid off, and for a later class O’Neal developed a pair of bicycle gloves that use an accelerometer chip to register hand positions of riders and light up arrow turn signals to alert drivers. 

The hard work and problem solving required in engineering weren’t new to O’Neal, who had spent 10 years prior to college in the Army, serving three combat deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. He remains a sergeant first class in the Army Reserves, and supplemented his GI Bill-paid tuition with money earned from a management night job at UPS.

As graduation approached, O’Neal received career opportunities by email from the mechanical engineering program—a valuable resource that he says keeps students constantly in the loop. After applying initially for advertised technician openings with Intel, he was invited to interview for a higher position and now works as an operations manager at the Hillsboro campus.

Today he and his wife have three children and a wall of memories and honors from his time in the service.