Photo of alumna Brynna Freitag

Coming from a physics background, Brynna Freitag (’19) came to Boston University to pursue a Master of Science (MS) degree in Mechanical Engineering with a focus area in Manufacturing. During her time at St. Olaf College (alma mater), Brynna discovered the complexities of product design and manufacturing in everyday life and became fascinated in learning more, which ultimately lead her to BU. Currently, she works at Apple as a product design engineer and most recently worked on the release of the Vision Pro. As mechanical engineering connects multiple disciplines, Brynna describes herself as the spider in the middle of the web.

“All of the groups have needs and priorities. It’s my job to make it mesh and come to life.”

What made you want to come to BU?

I originally wanted to come to BU because of the LEAP (Late Entry Accelerated Program) program. Even after I knew I wouldn’t enroll in LEAP, just knowing that BU had the support structures in place to meet students where they were at meant a lot to me and really displayed the school’s values.

My undergraduate was in physics, and I have always been interested in how and why devices are made. During my time as an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to hear from a guest speaker who talked about product design. He was passionate about his work and the topics hit on all the parts of engineering that excited me. After that talk, I knew that was what I wanted to do. I was originally going to pursue the LEAP program since my background is not in engineering. However, after visiting BU in Spring 2018, I learned more about the program and how, even though my background was not an engineering degree, I had a strong enough STEM background to meet the MS prerequisites, and I could go straight to the MS program. What made BU stand out in comparison to other programs was its a focus on product design and manufacturing. This was a unique opportunity and was a topic that I was interested and eager to study at the graduate level.

Something else that made BU stand out was the faculty. The professors who teach the manufacturing courses have industry experience which helped a lot with networking. They also emphasized the importance of having a portfolio, which helped me land my first job after graduation!

 

What experiences were significant during your time at BU?

For me, it was a course called Product Realization (ENG ME537). This course has a semester-long project where students will design and build ten identical copies of the same product. My group built a moon lamp, which was one of the most memorable experiences I had during my time at BU.

This course also did a great job mimicking what happens day-to-day in my current role. During the interview process, I could confidently talk about my graduate school experiences, like my project in ME537, which highlighted both my knowledge in the product and design space as well as my passion for the work. It was also really comforting and validating to go into my current job already knowing how the process works in a real work environment.

I also loved EPIC (Engineering, Product, and Innovation Center) and SILab (Singh Imagineering Lab)! Part of me wanted to stay in my program longer, so I could continue to utilize these spaces.

 

What is a piece of advice you would give to an incoming student?

I would say that they should be flexible and have fun! I think people often view graduate degrees as a time to learn depth rather than breadth, but there’s a lot of opportunity at BU and tons of different classes, clubs, and internships to explore. Going in with an open mind can lead you to exactly where you’re meant to be–I went to talk to my advisor about applying to several different companies, and she pushed me towards SRAM, which wasn’t even on my radar but ended up being a great fit. And to that point, utilize your professors to the max! I loved that BU’s faculty had so much industry experience. The network of information and introductions they provide is equally as valuable as your diploma.