(Photo by Randy Montoya, Sandia National Laboratories)
U of A Fort Smith Alumnus Lands Job in National Laboratory
Ever since he was a child, electrical engineering alumnus Andrew Binder wanted to pursue a career in engineering, and what began as a dream became a reality when he landed a job at one of the nation’s leading national security laboratories.
Growing up, Binder was surrounded by STEM professionals, which was one of the reasons he always found science-based fields so fascinating. His father was an electrical engineer, and his mother and grandfather were both mathematicians.
However, his interest in electrical engineering began during his high school years.
“We did circuit projects in high school and that was interesting to me,” Binder said. “The more classes I took in college, the more I was sure it was what I really wanted.”
In 2010, Binder decided to attend the University of Arkansas Fort Smith after receiving the engineering scholarship from the College of Engineering and the Academic Challenge Scholarship, which paid almost his entire tuition, fees and books.
His interest in electrical engineering became a passion as he moved through his coursework at UAFS.
“The biggest eye-openers aren’t really until you get to the core courses,” he said. “For me, it wasn’t until I got to electronics I and II, and the power course taught by Juan Balda that I realized what I could do with this degree.”
Balda is a University Professor, Twenty-First Century Leadership Chair in Engineering, and head of the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Arkansas.
Binder said the education and experience he received at the university opened doors and pushed him to reach higher. He said his professors taught him fundamental skills and coached him on practical things like how to create a professional resume and the importance of gaining skills through internships, which was critical to Binder's career.
“I always felt that the professors came at it from the perspective of saying ‘Hey, this isn’t just fundamental knowledge that you need to know because you’re engineering, but it’s also what you’ll need for your job one day.”
Binder graduated from the U of A in 2013 and went on to work at the Mainstream Engineering Corporation for two years.
Then in 2014, he began to work on his doctorate at the University of Central Florida and graduated in the spring of 2019.
Binder is working as a postdoctoral appointee at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he said he focuses on modeling and design of vertical GaN semiconductor devices for power electronics.