When Brian Schwartz, SB’18, heard that the University of Chicago was going to begin offering a molecular engineering program to undergraduate students, he was intrigued. Could engineering be the cross-section of science and math that he was looking for?
“I was always the type of person who was willing to try something new,” he said. “So I thought I would see what it was all about. I found that the molecular engineering program, since it was just beginning, was a good place for trial and error. There was a flexibility to play around and figure out what I wanted to do.”
Schwartz became part of the first cohort of undergraduate students studying molecular engineering. He worked in the lab of Prof. Juan de Pablo for several years, conducting research on synthetic nanocomposites, then got involved with UChicago’s Institute of Politics.
“I wanted to understand the role of politics and policy in science and technology,” he said, “and getting to have those conversations through the institute helped bridge what I was doing in the lab with real-world implications of technology.”
The PME curriculum taught him how to ask questions and solve problems, and he found close friendships with other molecular engineering majors. The group attended Chicago Cubs games, experienced escape rooms together, and had each other’s backs during tough times.
“Even though it could be incredibly difficult and demanding, everyone banded together and helped each other,” he said.
Schwartz used his experience in research and in politics to pursue a career as an analyst. As a business intelligence specialist at AlixPartners, he conducts industry research and business development in technology, media, and telecom (TMT). In his career, he still leans on the skills he learned at the University of Chicago—most importantly, how to be creative.
“A lot of challenges TMT businesses face require out-of-the-box thinking,” he said. “There’s always an answer to every problem, but you have to find a way to be creative to solve problems that might not seem solvable. I learned how to think like that through my undergraduate program.”