Taking the next step on an engineering career path

Editor’s note: This profile is the second in a series that highlights students and recent alumni. Learn more about the first steps for admitted students and our PhD Program and Master’s Program. The deadline for the Master’s Program is March 1, 2022.

Yo Seol, SM’21, has always forged his own path.

As proof of that, he was a member of the first graduating class of the Master of Science in Molecular Engineering (MSME) program at UChicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME).

Seol graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. After graduating, Seol worked in the cardiac department of a biomedical company that makes medical devices, where his electrical engineering background came in handy.

“It gave me the confidence to work in that field because they were asking me about electrical aspects and how we should power certain devices,” Seol said. “That’s when I started to show interest in health devices and how these became compatible with the human body once you implant them into the patient.”

And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. At that point, he had two choices: stay in Minneapolis to continue working for the biomedical company or apply for the MSME program to further his education.

“The pandemic encouraged me to pursue something in the healthcare industry,” Seol said. “The MSME program would give me the freedom to study biomedical devices as well as drugs and vaccines for COVID.”

Yo Han Seol in graduation robes on the University of Chicago campus
Seol on the University of Chicago campus. (Image courtesy of Yo Seol)

Seol made the jump, joining the program’s polymer science and engineering track with some immunoengineering courses as electives. He graduated in 2021.

“I applied so I could further my studies in the field because I was very interested in the current developments of not just vaccines, but cancer treatments and other therapies,” he said.

Seol is currently working for the electric vehicle and energy company Tesla. He worked in the auto industry before shifting to biomedical devices, and Tesla was one of his former employers.

“With my experience in quality engineering, meaning looking at overall quality and improving it, I can save the company from losses by preventing failures,” Seol said.

His advice for incoming students is to embrace the collaborative and multidisciplinary nature of engineering.

“Pursue this degree if you’re interested in knowing what everyone does together to be successful,” he said. “Because it’s not just about one type of engineering—electrical, molecular, bio, immuno, etc.—it’s everything together.”