Not a Cookie-Cutter Engineer
The week that Chloe Rubinowicz (EE, M.S. ’23) received her acceptance letters from colleges, she found herself frantically making calls.
“For some reason I enrolled as a chemical engineer. I think I Googled ‘What engineers make the most money?’ and chemical engineer came up,” says Rubinowicz. “But it was an instant regret. I realized that I actually didn’t like chemistry, and I truly loved electrical.”
She says Illinois Institute of Technology made the process easy and, with the best financial aid offering, a spectacular engineering program, and close proximity to home, she decided to attend.
Rubinowicz has excelled at typical electrical engineering activities: She designed and built an artificial intelligence American Sign Language translator, a smart alarm clock and a smart irrigation system, and she led a team to a first-place victory in the global Keysight Innovation Challenge with an innovative Internet of Things device optimizing tree planting to maximize carbon sequestration impact.
She re-started the university’s dormant electrical engineering professional organization, transforming it into an award-winning chapter under her leadership.
But she has also been an active participant and leader in student government, athletics, and entrepreneurial activities, leading to a highly well-rounded skill set.
“Illinois Tech doesn’t just pop out cookie-cutter, identical engineers. Everyone here is so unique,” says Rubinowicz.
Rubinowicz says that she thought she was on the path to work in computer chip programming when she had what she calls, “the best meeting of my life,” with Keysight Technologies Chief Customer Officer and Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Illinois Tech alum Mark Wallace (EE ’88).
“I didn’t know sales in engineering existed until I met the Keysight people,” she says. “It was exciting to see someone from the same school as me, with the same degree as me, then go into this sales job. I thought, ‘Oh, my God, I can really do that.’”
Wallace also encouraged her to join the Keysight competition that her group went on to win and to apply for a job at Keysight, where she will be working as an account manager after graduation.
Rubinowicz says working in sales will allow her to use all the skills that she’s collected over the course of her time at Illinois Tech.
She has been on the student government’s finance board since her first year, participating in the allocation of the board’s $1.2 million annual budget to student organizations. With two years as chair and two years as vice chair, she built relationships across campus and led major policy changes.
Rubinowicz was also a student ambassador in the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship’s startup accelerator where she worked with startups from Italy, supporting their market entry into the United States.
“I think the entrepreneurship and startup hub is a really cool and unique thing about Illinois Tech,” she says.
She has taken on a leadership role on the women’s basketball team, her “family outside of home.”
“It’s more than just going and playing basketball. I learned a lot of vital skills relating to leadership, growth, development, and working with a team,” she says.
And, of course, she’ll be using the technical knowledge that she gained from courses as she sells the equipment that she has learned to use over the course of her degree.
“You always have that technical background, and you have to use it, but you use it in a way where you get to be sociable. You’re traveling and meeting with people at all these different companies. You’re in Silicon Valley selling to phone companies, or you’re in Michigan selling to car companies,” says Rubinowicz. “It’s cool to have a mix of all of that.”
As she begins this exciting path, Rubinowicz says she still plans to work on innovative projects in her free time. Rubinowicz and her friend Kaya Jones (CS 2nd Year) are in the early stages of their own startup building “the ultimate online marketplace for project collaboration and funding.”
No matter what types of roles she ends up in as an engineer, Rubinowicz says she fell in love with engineering for its role in changing the world.
“You don’t realize how much engineers impact the world and everything we do. That reach is one of the things that interested me about the field,” she says. “The biggest thing I want is to have an impact.”