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PhD Graduates Ready to Bring Research Skills to Intel

Sergey and Yuriy Smolin in Drexel's Centralized Research Facilities.

June 27, 2017

While searching for PhD programs, twin brothers Sergey and Yuriy Smolin were drawn to Drexel’s Chemical and Biological Engineering department because of its reputation for research in sustainable energy. Five years later, still enthused by their decision and now armed with doctoral degrees, the Smolin brothers are taking on their next milestone together: as engineers at Intel

Having accepted positions as senior process design engineers within Intel’s Oregon operation, the Smolins will be directly responsible for research and development in the chemical mechanical planarization division. This opportunity to put academic theory into practice in creating a final product, is one of the reasons the brothers chose to pursue careers in the technology industry. 

“While academia is on the scientific cutting edge, industry has the challenge of incorporating scientific knowledge into usable products in an economical manner,” they described. “It is very rewarding when the research you accomplish leads to a new or improved product, which can affect millions of people.” 

With recognition from research publications, collaborations, presentations, and awards, the Smolin brothers had career choices in both academia and industry. Their research experience, along with advice from faculty advisers Drs. Jason Baxter, Kenneth Lau, and Masoud Soroush, who they credit as “constant sources of information and perspective regarding career choices,” helped form their decision over time. 

(Yuriy Smolin with his advisers Kenneth Lau, PhD, and Masoud Soroush, PhD.)

“Earning our PhD degrees at Drexel has been the most engaging, challenging, and rewarding endeavor that each of us have accomplished thus far,” they reflected. “Under the mentorship of our advisers our critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills have improved tremendously.” 

In fact, this became one of the defining factors to set them apart during interviews with top companies. 

“One remark was consistently echoed: how impressed they were with the deep grasp of technical concepts and the ability to convey these technical research results,” the brothers said. “This is a direct reflection of the education at Drexel and the quality of the PhD program. We cannot be prouder to be graduating from Drexel.” 

So, as two of the University’s newest doctorates, what advice do the Smolin brothers have for current and future students?  

“The best way to prepare for academia or industry is the same: work hard. Really hard,” they said. 

(Sergey Smolin with his adviser Jason Baxter, PhD.)

For them, this hard work included collaborating across diverse teams and projects, publishing research, attending as many conferences as possible, building up a professional network, and ultimately, gaining experience communicating in a professional setting. 

“Three more pieces of advice we would give for going into industry are (1) find an area that you enjoy working in, (2) apply early for those jobs, and (3) take advantage of your network!” 

Since industry and academia often collide at professional conferences, these events become the perfect place to gain presentation skills while learning about career opportunities, meeting helpful contacts, and discovering research partnerships. 

The Smolins described, “while interviewing, it was apparent that research in industry is very collaborative and hiring managers want graduate students with those types of skills. Academia is the same way.” 

As driven to take on their careers as they were to start their PhD program, Sergey and Yuriy Smolin are now ready to build upon their talent and continue to put their passion for science and technology to work at Intel.