Career opportunities a hop, skip and jump away for student in College of Engineering’s master’s program

Yongqing Cai has never been afraid to leap at an opportunity.

He leapt thousands of miles from Jiaxing, China, to study engineering in the United States. Then, after earning his bachelor’s degree in Iowa, he leapt another 700 miles to pursue a master’s degree in chemical engineering at The University of Akron (UA).

“My uncle who is in the industry strongly encouraged me to pursue a master’s degree,” says Cai, who adds that he chose UA because of the abundance of engineering jobs in Ohio and specifically in Akron.

Yongqing Cai, a College of Engineering student at UA

Yongqing Cai, an engineering master’s student, says he chose UA because of its strength in polymer engineering and proximity to jobs.

“Ohio has more job opportunities in the engineering field than Iowa,” Cai says. “And UA is close to big, industrial cities like Cleveland, Columbus, Pittsburgh, etc. Akron itself is famous for rubber companies – and there are plenty of job opportunities here as well.”

He also chose UA’s College of Engineering, he says, because it allowed him to integrate his studies in chemical engineering with polymer engineering, a field which is in “rapid development” and in which UA has a “strong background.” 

Indeed, over the past two years of the master’s program, Cai has been able to take courses and do lab work in both fields, researching hydrogel synthesis, protein electrophoresis and cell and bacteria culturing.

These experiences, he says, led to his current internship with MDH Research in Westerville, Ohio, where he is studying the relationship between the amyloid beta protein and Alzheimer’s disease.

Ultimately, he adds, these experiences have sharpened skills that are essential in the industry.

“The lab experience I had in the last two semesters helped me extend my skill set, and lab skills are essential in chemical engineering-related jobs, especially in biochemical engineering industries,” Cai says. “Whereas in undergraduate school we learn general chemical engineering concepts, in graduate school we have the chance to work on more specialized lab and research projects.”

After graduating this spring, Cai will look for an opportunity to work for a “big engineering company,” he says.

And, with so many jobs nearby, this time he may not have to leap very far.