International Mechanical Engineering Grad Makes His Mark

Libardo OchoaLibardo Ochoa earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology in 2013 after receiving his Associate in Science degree in 2011 from the same technology program. What makes Libardo’s story unique is that when he relocated from Colombia to the United States six years ago, he had difficulty finding work in his field. He had been a mining engineer at a large Colombian coal mine. He also had a problem with the language barrier. Libardo eventually found work here with his first job at the Keffe Commissary Network, a division of Department of Corrections, but he soon realized that he needed to further his education. Libardo now serves as the Vice President of Engineering at Quick Fitting, Inc. in Warwick, RI, a company that plans to bring 650 manufacturing jobs back to the state. Libardo is proud to share his story.

What made you decide to attend NEIT?

I was invited to attend an Open House back in 2009. The presentation of the mechanical engineering program was very interesting and attracted my attention.

How did you choose your program?

I am originally from Colombia where I was a mining engineer with nine years of experience. I tried to apply for some positions over here using my experience but with no luck. Then the NEIT Open House presentation made me think about becoming a mechanical engineer. I felt it would be a good opportunity for me in this country, and I was right!

What did you do to get started with your career?

I did some research about job openings in this country before I made my decision to enroll in the Mechanical Engineering Technology program.

Tell us about your position.

In late 2010, I learned through the Career Services Office about an entry level position at Quick Fitting, Inc. I applied and they hired me for a part-time job in the engineering department. In less than nine months, I was promoted to Senior Product Development Engineer. Basically I was designing and conducting lab tests for all products coming from China. Currently, I have five patents with the company for new products. I was promoted to Vice President of Engineering five months ago. Our company is bringing manufacturing jobs back to Rhode Island, so some of my duties include coordinating and overseeing quality control with factories in China and the United States.

What do you feel ultimately prepared you for your position? 

I feel that my education at NEIT was the key to my successful career. All the classes that I took in my associate and bachelor level programs are used daily at my job.

Do you have any advice for graduates who are just beginning their job search?

My only advice for those people looking for jobs in their field is that sometimes you have to take a chance. If there is a job offer related to your career, take it. Sometimes the offered salary should not matter. The most important thing is to get your foot in the door.

What can current students do to better prepare themselves for jobs in this field? 

In my opinion the best way to prepare to be a mechanical engineer is to investigate and research as much as possible. For example, students that wait for the teacher to explain everything needed to do an assignment is not a good practice. I learned most of my professional skills from two great teachers at NEIT, Bruce Feodoroff and Steve Seminara. They make students research and try to solve problems on their own.

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