ASU technological leadership graduate launches career at Raytheon Missiles and Defense

May 3, 2023

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2023 graduates.

Jason Alexandre approaches graduation more confident in his technical skills and as a self-sufficient professional ready to take on the job he has lined up after graduation. Jason Alexandre portrait Jason Alexandre Download Full Image

Alexandre will begin his position at Raytheon Missiles & Defense in Tucson after graduating from Arizona State University in May with a bachelor's degree in technological leadership. He will be a systems engineer I for the whole-life engineering department, focusing on life cycles for a variety of product lines. He will look at a system from its design all the way to its decommission with considerations to every state, including how portions of the system can be replaced, updated, recycled and finally disposed of. 

Alexandre credits his ability to get the position to his coursework and internships, which constantly put him into challenging situations.

“My internships took me out of my comfort zone, which allowed me a huge amount of personal and professional growth. School provided me context, while interning provided me hard lessons and a greater sense of resiliency. The wide variety of work and projects I did in my internships helped me develop and improve many of my hard skills and granted me much more confidence in my abilities,” he said.

The technological leadership program is offered by the Interplanetary Initiative, which recently introduced a minor for undergraduate students as well. The hallmark of the degree is the inquiry-based, student-centered classes, giving students the agency to learn in the ways that speak most to the future career they intend on pursuing.

Question: How did the training you received throughout your technological leadership degree help you get your job?

Answer: A big part of why I received this job offer was from my time and experience within the SpaceWorks course series. My interviewers loved hearing about the various projects I was involved with and especially loved how the projects were physically built and had a wide variety of subsystems, like in our mock lander from SpaceWorks I. It was also great that in SpaceWorks III, we had to make a life cycle analysis document of our SpaceWorks II design.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: One thing that I learned was the importance of self-teaching and how valuable it is as a tool for anyone’s personal development and overall mental well-being. There’s a certain amount of pride and personal respect you get when you’re in the process of teaching yourself a new skill, failing at it and grinding again until it sticks. It's paramount to your success of learning that skill to ask others who are knowledgeable about the subject for help.

Q: What project are you most proud of that you worked on during your time at ASU and why?

A: There are two projects I’m most proud to have worked on during my time here at ASU. One of them is Desert Skies, which was a science communication platform I worked on with a few other tech leadership students for the Creative Futures Studio course. I was able to put in my part to develop a science education program, while working on skills other than my technical abilities, like interviewing educators to gather a better perspective on the specifics of how to best teach younger people and children. The other project was the mock lander from SpaceWorks I, which really elevated my technical abilities and allowed me to be a part of a very talented team that was able to build something with electronic sensors, custom code, a parachute system, landing equipment, a carefully designed frame, and many more systems and considerations.

Q: Can you give me examples of your internships and what you learned from them?

A: I had the opportunity to work with ASU’s Luminosity Lab as a research intern and with Early Warning Services as a corporate strategy and development intern.

Luminosity Lab really hammered home the benefit of working with a multidisciplinary team where I worked closely with individuals who were well-versed with design, concept art, a variety of engineering disciplines, scientists and many other backgrounds. I was brought on since I was a bit of a space nerd, and they were developing concepts for homes of the future in a variety of alternate city locales, including low Earth orbit, and it amazed me how much niche knowledge everyone had on so many different topics. It led us to find crazy scientific papers to fuel our concepts, which was a direct product of having a multi-background team.

Early Warning Services was my first exposure to the corporate world where I learned an immense amount. One major takeaway from my time with EWS was learning and experiencing firsthand how organizations interact from department to department, how each team is mostly insulated to their specific tasks and how people are highly specialized to their unique role. 

Sally Young

Senior Communications Specialist, Interplanetary Initiative

Economics Dean’s Medalist inspired by personal experience to educate others on complex world of health care

May 3, 2023

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2023 graduates.

When her two children were born prematurely, Alicia Lewis spent four months with them in the NICU. Their health battle motivated her to return to school to better understand the health care industry. Portrait of Alicia Lewis in an outdoor setting. Alicia Lewis is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in economics this fall. Photo by Meghan Finnerty Download Full Image

Her experience with her children caused her to look at health care quantitatively, exploring why hospitals recommend specific treatments, their motivation behind doing so and the risks of those choices.

Now, Lewis, an online student, is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in economics and will begin her PhD this fall.

“Initially as a coping mechanism, I stopped looking at health care as a point of service to more of a systemic organizational way,” she said. “I started exploring why hospitals and physicians recommend different treatments, procedures, etc., and it led me down this path.”

During school, Lewis worked with College of Health Solutions Associate Professor and Department of Economics Associate Professor Ellen Green on a National Institutes of Health project working with health care policy to improve the allocation of deceased-donor kidneys.

"(Green) was phenomenal in my growth during school,” Lewis said. “The hours she dedicated to help me in research and be a mentor to me were incredible.”

The Department of Economics Dean’s Medalist reflected on her time at ASU.

Question: What’s something you learned at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: What stood out to me was the true complexity of the research process. I came in a bit naive thinking I was going to get in there and be able to figure it out. But there’s a lot that goes into the process. How do you find data sets? How do you get funding? How do you work with physicians? The research process and its complexities were much more complicated than I anticipated.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: A friend of mine is a professor and she spoke highly of ASU’s online system, so that is where the initial interest began. Once I researched how the online system was set up, I realized it was the most efficient way to get my degree and work with world-class professors. To have flexibility with my life outside of school, getting meaningful research done. It made sense.

Q: Which professor(s) taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Besides Green, I received a lot of guidance and instruction from Marrisa Domino, Jonathan Ketcham, Marjorie Baldwin, Rex Ballinger and Sheree Rincon. A lot of people invested in me, and I don’t want to skip out on mentioning them.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Building relationships with professors have been incredibly helpful in applying to grad school and getting the most out of my instruction. I also think it’s cliche, but working ahead, you know, reading ahead of class, doing the homework early, more times than not I have felt a little more confident going into the course when I took time to familiarize myself with the material beforehand.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I start a PhD at another university in August. After that, I see myself getting into health economics and would love to be a professor one day.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet what would you tackle?

A: I’m passionate about mental health, especially youth mental health. I think there’s a lot of potential to help in that area.

Marketing and Communications Coordinator, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences