Max Sever – Cleaning, Communication, Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering

As an intern at BFK Solutions, Max Sever was instrumental in putting together many of the cleaning studies and demonstrations for BFK Solutions and for the Product Quality Cleaning Workshops (PQCW). He’s a student of mechanical engineering who understands chemistry and can actually communicate!

“I may start my own business – eventually,” Max says. “Another thing I learned working alongside you and Ed was that you taught me the perspective of running my own business. Not that you made it look easy, but you made the idea of running business more approachable. You made it more real, more achievable in my own life.”

Max’s choice of Pierce College, a two-year community college in Southern California, was pragmatic. At the time, he didn’t have a car and the school was a 10 minute skateboard ride from his house. His route to a major was perhaps less direct. “My first thought was that I’d get an education so I could make money. So I started out as a business major. I found that business courses were really dry; and I didn’t want to spend four years doing something that didn’t interest me. I wanted a major that was more hands-on. I’d always liked math, so engineering appealed to me. I liked my design professor. The classes were interesting; I learned to use CAD software.” Max found it was valuable to have a design professor with extensive experience working at Northrop Grumman because “you can immediately tell the difference between a prof who just uses a textbook versus one who has had experience in the field.” A professor encouraged him to take communication classes on the grounds that ME’s have to learn to communicate and to learn to work in groups. The professor explained to Max that communication is essential because “ME’s don’t like working in groups but you can’t get long-term projects done on your own.”

“I learned so much working with you two. Conducting experiments – that was really cool. I also learned how to write down notes about experiments systematically. It was you, Barb who said I also had to learn chemistry. I learned from your experience, including everything you told me about working in the field. This includes how manufacturing tends to work, the way manufacturing management works with people, and how they deal with regulations.”

“I never would have learned about cleaning if I hadn’t worked with you guys. Cleaning is generally just a footnote – something like ‘oh, yeah, you’ve got to clean the parts.’ There’s no talk about the cleaning process in school – especially the way you guys do it.” Max adds that he “really appreciated just getting to use the cleaning equipment in a practical setting, learning how ultrasonic cleaning works, how to set up the equipment.”

Max also figured out how to make the video clips showing experiments, demonstrations, and discussing cleaning. “I got job where all I do is video work and photography.”

After summer school and a two-week vacation, Max moves to complete his four year degree at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Max actually had the enviable dilemma of having to choose between two exceptional universities– Santa Cruz and Berkeley. How did he choose? “You can’t go wrong at either school. I did a site visit. That was a big part for me, getting a feel for the campuses. I talked to a few people who went to both schools. I talked to professors. The quality of the profs are great at both schools. I wanted to see which school I would most enjoy, to think about where I would most thrive.” Max plans to obtain a bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Japanese. Not surprising! He spent a summer in Japan.

After college, Max speculates about finding a research job with an engineering firm in Japan. He is fluent in Japanese; and sees many opportunities for English/Japanese bilingual people. Why spend time in Japan? “Because the culture is amazing; the people are respectful; and they are ecologically-sensitive. I don’t plan to work in Japan for my whole life, but I want to work there for a few years.” Eventually, he’d like to come back to the U.S. and pursue a masters degree in business. “I think an MBA is far more valuable than an undergraduate degree.”

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