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Jon Shanks: Putting physics to work

Jon ShanksJon Shanks started work on the Professional Science Master’s degree immediately after earning a bachelor’s degree in physics from Michigan State University in 2005. Although most post-graduate work in physics is aimed at laboratory research, he chose the PSM program because he wanted to “use physics in a more industrial sense,” he says.

That’s just what Shanks did during his internship at Microsystems Engineering, Inc., in Lake Oswego, Ore., a company that makes pacemakers and implantable cardio defibrillators. He developed a faster and more reliable screening process for incoming capacitors and other components that go into the electronic modules. The models are then sent off to Germany, where there the battery is installed, and the final assembly is hermetically sealed.

During his internship, Shanks drew on his science background to characterize the capacitors and their mechanisms. Then, he applied the business training from the PSM program to turn that scientific information into a report for the company’s managers, explaining, “this is what our components do; this is how we can more easily determine if we have a good product.”

Shanks’ internship lead to a full-time job offer after he completed the degree. Today, he’s a quality engineer with broad responsibilities at every point along the production line.

It’s good knowing that the products are going into something useful that will save people’s lives and improve their quality of life,” Shanks says.