Carter Morris and Beliefs in Engineering Group

Carter Morris

Students often wonder how their undergraduate coursework will relate to their future careers. In the case of engineering, sometimes undergrad classes force students to think in black and white. This is why Carter Morris, an Ohio State Materials Science and Engineering Graduate, recommends undergraduates dive into the unknown, take advantage of the opportunities OSU has to offer, and expand their thinking. Carter Morris was a part of the Beliefs in Engineering Research Group in the Engineering Education Department, also known as BERG, where he worked closely with the group’s Principle Investigator, Dr. Emily Dringenberg. Morris’s primary role in BERG was collecting qualitative data through interviews with engineering students. He also gained experience with qualitative data analysis techniques designed to answer some of the BERG’s research questions. Morris was an integral part of BERG, as he designed and implemented his own study, which expanded the work of BERG and even earned him research distinction upon graduation. Morris recognized that even though the research agenda of BERG (e.g., understanding the role of smartness in engineering) was not directly related to the content of his Materials Science and Engineering area of study, it taught him to read academic literature and critically analyze aspects of his undergraduate engineering classes, such as culture and social norms. After graduation and landing his first job, Morris would soon realize the skills he learned with BERG are crucial to any STEM career. 

Morris graduated in December of 2020 and now works at the global materials science company W.L Gore & Associates, which is best known for developing Gore-Tex, a lightweight and water-resistant fiber. Within the company, Morris splits his time working with electrochemical materials and Gore’s line of guitar strings; his work in these areas are quite different. For the electrochemical materials section, he works in a lab conducting thermomechanical and corrosion testing where he can refine some of the more traditional lab skills he encountered as an engineering student. However, for the guitar strings section of his work, he conducts interviews and focus group studies with professional musicians to collect qualitative data about what the musicians like and dislike. Morris' undergraduate research experience with BERG meant he was prepared to meet the job expectations at W.L Gore & Associates by conducting and analyzing interview data. Morris is even making changes within Gore using his knowledge from BERG to improve their processes for collecting and analyzing qualitative data.  

The fact that Morris’s experiences with BERG directly qualified him for a great engineering job at Gore shows how undergraduate research experience in the Department of Engineering Education does have direct connections to engineering practice. This is an important point because some students seeking research experiences may have the misconception that anything that lacks numbers or quantifiable data isn’t a part of engineering work. But a motivating factor that lead to Morris'  job offer at W.L Gore & Associates was his experience performing qualitative research with BERG. Gore also liked how Morris’s research experience with BERG was focused on researching beliefs, as Gore wants to incorporate that line of thinking into their company culture. Morris’s dual role with Gore is a great example of how engineering students can really stand out in a job search if they have experience developing a range of skills that go beyond what they typically see in their engineering class experiences. Morris emphasized that his experience with qualitative research made him extremely marketable and valuable in his engineering job search. Gore, along with many other companies, realize that teaching their employees practical lab skills is relatively easy while other skills like reading and understanding research, thinking critically, and designing or conducting research is harder and more time-consuming to teach.  

The most valuable thing Morris learned while working in BERG was the greater sense of open-mindedness. In an interview with Aaron Kempa, the Communications Specialist with the EED, Morris explained how “BERG taught [him] to look beyond just a number as data and look at things in a more wholistic manner.” Working with BERG made Morris realize that engineering and any STEM field require creativity and introspective analysis, which is deemphasized and undervalued in typical coursework. From working in BERG to now landing his first job, the key takeaway from Morris is to use your undergraduate career to explore new areas to work on skills that aren’t traditionally taught in engineering classes. Morris took a leap of faith by accepting a position at BERG, and look how much it paid off! 

Written by Grace N. Farina , The Ohio State University 2023 

Edited by Aaron D. Kempa, CNP