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WVU Tech grads carry spirit of learning, sense of community into grad school

WVU Tech grads Felipe Sozinho and Drew Lytton.WVU Tech grads Felipe Sozinho (left) and Drew Lytton at a local golf course.

The college experience at WVU Tech includes a focus on experiential learning. Whether that’s something as complex as a semester-long internship or a single day of giving back to the community, putting skills to work in the real world is something every student is encouraged to do.

For graduates like Drew Lytton, ’17, and Felipe Sozinho, ’16, that drive to build experience beyond the classroom lasted well beyond graduation day. Today, the two are working as hard as ever, earning graduate degrees on the Morgantown campus. They’re also putting their skills to use as graduate assistants in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Sciences office of Enrollment Management and Outreach.

The two work on projects alongside Cate Schlobohm, Outreach Program Coordinator, and enrollment management program coordinator Ryan Sigler with the goal of teaching K-12 students about engineering and design.

Under her guidance, Sozinho and Lytton have helped with the college’s popular Engineering Challenge Camps, met with prospective students and their families, trained student ambassadors, served as K-12 student mentors and worked with youngsters and families at the West Virginia State Fair.

“They integrated immediately into our office and are willing to do whatever is needed. They come up with fantastic, fresh concepts and have some great ideas,” said Schlobohm.

Lytton grew up in Beckley. He studied mechanical engineering at Tech and graduated last spring. Now he’s earning his master’s in business administration at WVU in Morgantown.

“I was interested in entrepreneurship, business management and strategy,” he said. “I wanted to develop business acumen for my professional career.”

He’ll wrap up the program in August, then it’s on to the next step – building a career. He ultimately wants to start or work for a company that “has a significant impact on human innovation,” such as clean energy, environmental impact mitigation or cutting-edge technology.

Sozinho grew up in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He graduated from Tech in May of 2016 with a degree in electrical engineering and a minor in mathematics.

He discovered his passion for electrical engineering at a young age and is continuing his education in the profession with a master’s in electrical engineering.

Sozinho graduates in December. At that point, he’ll be at a crossroads.

“Sometimes I wonder about going into a Ph.D. to do research on the integration of renewable energy resources to the power grid,” he said.

“Sometimes I think about moving towards the business perspective of things, maybe working on something related to the stock market, or trying to start a business.”

While the days and weeks pass until that point, the two are working to help children grasp the same concepts that got them started on this path. Sozinho said that his most memorable experience so far has been helping two elementary-aged children with their science projects. For Lytton, it was the moment he saw a group of middle school students realize the solution to an engineering issue in their invention idea – and issue he helped them solve.

The two shared that they’re also learning valuable project management, time management, budgeting, project planning and communication skills.

“They improve their communication skills because we communicate with a wide variety of audiences – from K-12 students to parents, alumni and faculty,” said Schlobohm. “They become more flexible and adaptable because that is the nature of outreach and recruitment. They become adept at event planning and management and their customer service skills grow.”

For Schlobohm, it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. While graduate assistants like Sozinho and Lytton are earning valuable workplace skills, they’re ensuring the department stays on top of messaging to younger audiences.

“They’re aware of what their peers are interested in and the best way to connect with these young students. They continually bring us new ideas about messaging to K-12 students, and they aren’t afraid to create new projects,” she said.

And even though the two are working on the other end of the state, they haven’t forgotten their alma mater. They’re currently working with faculty in Beckley on establishing a challenge camp for elementary school students in the region.

“WVU Tech has a special place in my heart,” said Lytton. “I am happy to see the progress being made at the Beckley campus. I look forward to staying involved as the university forges its path to a better future.”

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