A conversation with SSPI Mid-Atlantic Scholarship Winner Amit Puranik

Amit Puranik graduated from George Mason University’s School of Engineering in 2011. Prior to graduating with a Masters Degree in Telecommunications (Wireless), he received the SSPI-Mid Atlantic Chapter’s scholarship award for his outstanding achievements. Amit explains what led him to a focus his education and career on satellite technology. 

What prompted you to study engineering and to specialize in satellite technology?
My father had sowed the seeds of engineering in me at a very tender age. The quest for answers to my questions led me to take up engineering. Bachelors education gave me an insight into various engineering aspects, but what interested me most was wireless communications. Satellite communications became my favorite subject and I made a decision to pursue Masters in Wireless Comm - specializing in satellite technology. 

What would you say to young students to get them interested in STEM education and a possible career in satellite technology? 
Making a career in satellite technology is a personal choice, but I would request all young engineers to consider it. Satellite technology is one of the most sought after streams of engineering in today's world of innovation with a huge opportunity for one to achieve great heights. I have a word of caution for international students looking forward to pursuing satellite communications in the US: All Satellite technology jobs in the US require US citizenship or permanent residency, which means international students who graduate with Masters in Satellite technology with a VISA will not get an opportunity to work in the field. 

Have you always loved math and science? What is your earliest memory of knowing this would be your career focus? 
I have always loved science, math not so much. My father has worked as a scientist for 40 years and I am lucky to get some of his 'love for science' as a hereditary gift. Since I was ten, my father would ask me simple science questions and help me find the answers. As I grew older, I had questions of my own and knew that the only way to find answers to those is by taking science/engineering as a career path. 

What would be your ultimate "dream job"? 
Satellite systems engineer - A job which will help me learn more about all aspects of satellite engineering and RF. 

Who would you consider your mentor or someone who inspired you to study satellite engineering?
Dr. Jeremy Allnutt. I had a Bachelor's course on satellite communications and we were asked to refer to Dr. Allnutt's book on the subject. His writing interested me and I wanted to learn more about satellite communications. It was a co-incidence that Dr. Allnutt taught SatCom at GMU. I did not have that information when I landed in the US with an admit to Mason, but I was very happy to know later that I had the honor to take his courses. 

Even if I cannot work in the satellite industry due to my visa status, I am very happy that I took up the subject and had the opportunity to work with Dr. Allnutt on his project that was later recognized by SSPI. 

How did the SSPI scholarship help you in your pursuit of your graduate degree? 
The SSPI scholarship gave me recognition in the satellite industry and opened new avenues for a bright career. In addition to that, the scholarship money helped me pay for my tuition fees for a semester. It has been a golden star on my resume since.