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Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering


Derek Schlea: FABE Alumni Spotlight

Nov. 8, 2023

To highlight some of the career opportunities available to students after graduation, we recently caught up with Derek Schlea, a Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering (FABE) alumni who graduated in 2009 and majored in Ecological Engineering to see what he's up to now as a a Principal and Ecological Engineer for LimnoTech.

What are your overall duties and responsibilities in your current position?

"My primary responsibilities include project management and executing technical work on the various projects we deliver for our clients, but I also assist in company operations, pursuing and brining in new work to grow our business, and helping with staff development, training, and mentorship duties."

What skills are required to be successful in your role?

"Many skills covering a wide range of topics are needed to successfully perform my job. First and foremost are the core engineering and technical skills: math, science, and engineering fundamentals; data analysis and database management; graphics and visualization; mathematical modeling; and understanding of economics, environmental science, geographic information systems, and coding and programming. Also essential are skills in problem solving, written and verbal communication, teamwork, leadership, networking, and understanding business fundamentals like industry awareness, productivity, client service, project delivery, financial performance, budget management, and marketing. Lastly there are several intangible traits that will lead to a successful and fulfilling professional career: creativity, adaptability, aptitude, attitude, intuition, and determination."

How did the FABE program prepare you for your role?

"The FABE program at Ohio State was amazing, and if I had to do it all over again, I would follow the same path. The program did so much more than give me those foundational skills I needed to succeed and thrive in my career. It gave me access to top notch professors, allowed for several opportunities to apply my problem-solving skills to real world situations, and by sitting at the intersection of the College of Engineering and CFAES, the FABE program provided exposure to a great diversity of disciplines in both engineering and agricultural sciences."

What advice would you give to students considering majoring in FABE?

"I suggest you do some research on the many possible career paths that may come with a FABE degree, think about whether those types of careers would be exciting and gratifying to you personally, and then decide if that’s a direction you want to pursue."

Thanks to Derek for taking the time to answer these questions thoughtfully, and best of luck moving forward!