Graduate finds success in materials and business

Jonathan Healy

A 2018 CWRU graduate with a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering and a Masters of Finance, Jonathan Healy is discovering “just how portable and transferrable an engineering degree is.”

Healy, who grew up in Jamestown, New York, moved to Washington, DC after graduating from CWRU and began working at the Naval Surface Warfare Center - Carderock Division (NSWCCD) as part of a SMART scholarship (scholarship-for-service) obligation. “The parallels between my work at CWRU and NSWCCD could not have been more apparent,” said Healy. One of the research groups was a magnetic materials group where the lead researcher was a former classmate of Associate Professor Matthew Willard and many of the emeritus researchers knew Willard as well.  At NSWCCD, Healy worked both on the fundamental side, running traditional research experiments with a goal of finding new alloys to improve the naval fleet, and on the applied side, where he was able to go into the fleet and run materials analysis on the ships, determining the relative lifetime and status of the ships’ various materials and structures.

After he left NSWCCD, Healy wanted to pursue a career in business, possibly one that brought together his interests in materials science and business.  Despite opportunities being limited by the pandemic, he got involved with FedTech, a company that helps commercialize federally funded research.  His engineering background proved beneficial with evaluating potential technologies and helping with technology sourcing for the startup studio program.  He will soon be starting a position as a business analyst at McKinsey and Company.

Healy said that his time outside the classroom at CWRU has prepared him for life as well.  “The materials science department, both faculty and older students at the time, were highly beneficial resources in helping me navigate my future career path,” he said.  “Older students like Joe Degenova and Bhavana Swaminathan helped introduce me to ASM International and other professional opportunities.”  He praised Willard and Associate Professor Mark De Guire for being “very hands-on in not only developing my understanding of materials science but also how to think critically and make informed decisions.”  One of the things he most appreciated at CWRU was the close atmosphere of the materials department and the opportunities available to undergraduate students, including the opportunity to serve as an ENGR 145 TAs, “I was fortunate to have a graduating class that was very close and very motivated to help each other out,” he said.  “I cannot understate how much this professional guidance helped me navigate my early career path.”

It was after applying to CWRU that Healy learned about the field of materials science and engineering.  While he always had a general interest in science, he was mostly gravitated toward chemistry and physics.  However, attending a department open house made him realize that materials science was the field for him.  Now, he finds it to be the “foundational building block of engineering. All other disciplines that require materials innately have to rely on materials scientists to be able to do their jobs which I always found to be motivating.”  He believes that the intersection is what draws many students in and why so many materials graduates can work in various fields.  He also likes knowing that the daily work of a materials engineer is generally aimed at improving the physical aspect of parts of society.

"Just in my few years out of college I have been able to take on a traditional materials role, work in the venture builder/entrepreneurial space, and just shortly move into a traditional consulting role,” said Healy.  “All jobs have required slightly different skills and knowledge but with the underpinning of critical thinking which is fundamental in the science and engineering disciplines.”  He was accepted to Harvard Law School, but decided to defer to focus on his opportunity with McKinsey.

Healy recommends that current CWRU graduates set a plan for five years, ten years or another period, but they also shouldn’t be afraid to accept uncertainty.  “I always operate under the pretense that I will not truly know if I like something or not until I go out and do it which has led me to a career path I never would have dreamt of when entering CWRU,” he said.