Successful alumni share STEM pathways at Wendt Leadership Speaker Series

Apr 03, 2024
Wendt Leadership Speaker Series

Florida Polytechnic University alumni who are pursuing successful careers in diverse STEM industries shared their stories with current students during the Wendt Leadership Speaker Series on campus on Wednesday, April 3. Pictured from left are Andre Archer ’22, Ph.D. student at the University of Florida; Isabel Zimmerman ’21 ’23, software engineer at Posit, PBC; Florida Poly President Randy K. Avent, supporter and former Trustee Gary C. Wendt; Andre Goode ’18, senior data engineer at the Walt Disney Company; Victoria Correa Andrade ’22, software engineer at Microsoft; and Chris Dowdy ’18 project manager at Whiting-Turner.

Five outstanding Florida Polytechnic University alumni who are making their mark in STEM returned to campus on Wednesday, April 3, to share their career experiences as part of the Wendt Leadership Speaker Series.

The event, which focused on “Trailblazing in STEM,” attracted a crowd to the Innovation, Science and Technology Building’s Aula Magna to hear the panelists discuss their careers and how Florida Poly helped prepare them for success. The event was moderated by Dr. Randy K. Avent, Florida Poly’s president.

Panel participants were Chris Dowdy ’18, a project manager at Whiting-Turner; Victoria Correa Andrade ’22, a software engineer at Microsoft; Andre Goode ’18, a senior data engineer at the Walt Disney Company; Isabel Zimmerman ’21 ’23, a software engineer at Posit, PBC; and Andre Archer ’22, a Ph.D. student at the University of Florida.

“I was a very busy student. I was involved in SGA (the Student Government Association), the Presidential Ambassadors, the Academic Success Center, I did research, and I did esports – all of it really did prepare me,” Zimmerman said. “I put myself in a lot of different situations, and I had to learn to communicate differently for the different situations.”

This experience is directly applicable to her current role, she said. Archer agreed about the value of the knowledge gained outside the classroom.

“More than anything, the soft skills are very important,” he said. “It’s being able to have the technical skills to answer the questions, but you also have to know when to ask the right questions.”

Former Florida Poly Trustee Gary C. Wendt, whose financial contributions fund leadership initiatives at the University, shared his experiences alongside the alumni panel.

“To me, leadership means how can you interact with others to get your ideas brought forward,” he said.

The alumni panelists emphasized how critical it is for students to take advantage of the professional opportunities they have during their undergraduate years.

“The internship is a very important experience during your studies,” Goode said to the audience of students. “That’s how I ended up with a position with Disney. It allows you to see how you can apply what you’re learning in your studies to the internship experience.

“I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to land an internship and more than one if possible. Your network will open up.”


Lydia Guzmán
Director of Communications