Carl Furner

Student wearing hard hat building a steel bridge
Carl Furner at Steel Bridge competition.

Hometown: Harwich, Massachusetts
Major: Materials Science and Engineering
Class Year: 2023

What made you realize you were interested in engineering?

I realized that I was interested in engineering in much the same way as other kids – I just loved Lego, K’nex, and erector sets when I was a kid. When I was in middle school, I started blacksmithing which drew me to materials science because of all the interesting things there are to learn about metals. Learning physics and chemistry in high school solidified my desire to go into materials, and I think I chose the right area to major in.

When you were looking at colleges, what stood out about Drexel?

The co-op program, research opportunities, and Drexel’s Yellow Ribbon program for veterans and family using the GI Bill. Between the Yellow Ribbon program and co-op, Drexel made the most sense for me financially, and the research programs made it better than the other comparable schools I was looking at. I have been fortunate to join the BS / MS program in Materials Science, which will allow me to graduate in 5 years with my master’s degree, bachelor’s degree, and 18 months of experience.

What has been you best co-op experience so far?

My best co-op experience was at DSM Biomedical, where I worked to design an injection molding process for making a biomedical knee surgery device out of PEEK, a very tough engineering plastic. The amount of work that went into making these devices, which were the size of grains of rice, made me appreciate the biomedical field, and now I hope to go into the biomedical field when I graduate. Seeing the applications of materials science in the field got me very excited for my future career.

What has been your favorite class so far?

My favorite class was a chemical engineering special topics class “Spectroscopy for Engineers” which focused on fundamentals and applications of spectroscopic techniques in industry. The intersection of materials science and chemistry often blurs the lines of both disciplines, and it was great to get more perspective on spectroscopic techniques, which are extremely powerful in research and industrial processing.

What about your major is special to you?

The materials science department is a tight knit community that works hard to foster relationships both in your year and between class cohorts. The peer mentor program is very special – during my freshman year I was given a peer mentor to guide me through some of the struggles of my first year, and this last year as a junior I was able to pay it forward by mentoring some freshmen of my own. This program, along with all of the events that our amazing administrators put together, make the materials science department truly special.

What extracurricular activities are important to you and why?

I am the captain of the Drexel Student Steel Bridge team, which fabricates a 20 foot-long bridge that holds 2500 lbs. each year as part of an engineering competition. This is a civil engineering club that I have participated in since freshman year, and it has allowed me to become a more well-rounded engineer because of our hands-on approach and the ability to participate in the engineering design process for something completely unrelated to my major. It’s made me friends and given me an amazing experience. Bridge is Life!

What piece of advice would you give to someone who's thinking about declaring a major right now?

Think about what you want in your education, the size of the major, and the opportunities available to you. I have loved being in a small major, but many of my friends have excelled in larger ones – it all depends on what you want.

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