- BS Electrical Engineering 1990
Thomas Karpus, a 1990 electrical engineering graduate of Michigan Tech, is a great example of an alumni worth featuring. He has won Michigan Tech's Outstanding Young Alumni Award (2003), spoken at Commencement and earned a successful living in the electrical engineering field.
Growing up in the small town of Bessemer, Mich. in the Upper Peninsula, Karpus was essentially interested in sports and science. He participated in basketball, football and baseball along with working on the school yearbook during high school. He worked numerous odd jobs throughout high school as well to be able to afford college. As valedictorian of his high school class, Karpus was offered a full-tuition scholarship to attend Michigan Tech. Having had a brother attend Tech, he knew about the quality of the education, and its proximity to home made coming to Michigan Tech a pretty easy decision.
Karpus was quite involved in various activities both in and out of the classroom. He served as a research assistant, played a lot of intramural sports, participated in Eta Kappa Nu, Michigan Tech's EE honor society and IEEE, and served as a an elector for St. Al's.
Karpus credits Michigan Tech with preparing him well for his profession: "The general educational background was excellent. I've worked with people from a lot of different universities and very few of them were as prepared as I was for solving day-to-day engineering problems."
After graduating in 1990, Karpus went to Syracuse University to earn his Master's degree. Following that, he earned a job at GE as a hardware design engineer where he primarily worked on land-based radar systems that were used for defense. "After that I used my communications and electronics experience to change industries from defense to mobile communications." He worked at Ericsson for eight to nine years designing the circuit boards in cell phones.
After working at Ericsson, he switched areas slightly, now working for Semtech, designing power chips for cell phones, MP3 players and more. He is now Director of Applications and Engineering for Portable Power.
On the personal side of things, Karpus is married with two children and he has lived in a suburb of Raleigh, N.C. for about thirteen years. "I'm doing things more like volunteer work, including being pretty active with my church and coaching at the YMCA," said Karpus. He also tries to fit in time to get involved with some newer hobbies, photography and playing the guitar.
Karpus has clearly had a successful professional and personal life. For that, he was awarded with the Young Alumni Award and he spoke at Michigan Tech Commencement. "It was definitely a surprise and an honor. I think of all the people that I've been to school with who have gone on to really successful careers; to be honored like that is pretty special. Not a lot of people leave Michigan Tech who aren't near the top of their field," said Karpus.
While he has already been successful, Karpus has some future goals that he would like to achieve, both personally and professionally. "I would like to continue to develop my technical skills and become more involved in the business decisions of my company and grow with my company," said Karpus. "That's kind of an uncommon thing to stay with a company for too long, but I'm in a position where I have a chance to grow with the company." Personally, Karpus finds it important to stay involved with his family and he wants to help his children to become strong people and good citizens.
Having had so much success, Karpus has some interesting advice for students: "People are always going to say work hard, study hard, etc., but the best advice I could offer would be to diversify your skill sets. Get good at what you're studying, but try to become knowledgeable about other things," said Karpus. He encourages students to take business classes, take classes that improve communication, and take classes that foster creativity. Lastly, Karpus said, "Students need to realize the opportunity they have in front of them is an education from one of the best schools out there, but it's up to them to make the most of it."
by Stephen Anderson, reprinted from the Michigan Tech Lode (4-09-08)