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Mechanical Engineer Breaks into the Business by Breaking Things
Jason Angolano, a 22-year-old mechanical engineering technology major at Oklahoma State University, always liked breaking things. "I tell people that what I do for a living is break stuff because I'm a component engineer," he says.

As an engineering co-op student at Mercury Marine's testing facility in Stillwater, Okla., Angolano works on pushing the limits of the components that make up the inboards and stern drives assembled at the plant. "We test the components before or after they go on the boat," Angolano says. "That's something I enjoy doing."

As a fourth year student at OSU, Angolano participates in the school's engineering co-op program that allows students like him to gain experience in the real world while pursuing their studies. Always interested in the mechanics of the world around him, Angolano knew mechanical engineering was right for him. "It just always fit," he says. "When I was younger we used to play with Legos and I always ripped my toys apart to find out how they worked--to see what the gears do. Most of the time I'd break them."

Angolano doesn't get in trouble for breaking things anymore. It's all part of the job.

Sometimes he and other engineers at the plant have to take their testing elsewhere. He says that when working for a subsidiary of Mercury Marine, MerCruiser, this can mean a trip out to a nearby lake to put a ski boat through the paces.

Angolano's position in the testing division requires him to have a detailed knowledge of computers and mathematics. His supervisor, test engineer Tim Lowery, said that he encourages his co-ops to be active in their pursuit of engineering.

In addition to his responsibilities at MerCruiser, Angolano is involved with a number of professional organizations on the student level. He is a co-chair of OSU's chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the vice president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a member of the Fluid Power Society at school. He says that his experiences with these groups and at work have helped him to grow as an engineer.

"We are focusing a lot in engineering on groups and presentations and working with people even if you might not like them," Angolano says. "There is a group atmosphere in engineering work these days, such as getting other people's perspectives on a project. That's why this is a great preparation for the workforce."

According to OSU's co-op coordinator Cathy Southwick, a student has never complained to her about their co-op experience at OSU. This is in spite of the fact that it can sometimes add year to their studies. "It makes theory more real," she says. "Most students report that their grades are better."

The accumulation of that new knowledge is aided by a head start, Angolano says.

"There is a great learning curve when you first start a job," he says. "They say it takes three years to learn a job. Doing what we're doing with the co-op, it's drastically cutting that down. You come out here and work and by the time you graduate you already have had a year and a half of work."


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