ECE Masters Program: Clayton Greenbaum and grokking the engineering mindset

Posted: February 6, 2022

Clayton Greenbaum left no stone unturned during his time at The Ohio State University.

Driven by a need to learn as a home schooled teen, he explored the library, sought out advice from online mentors, and ultimately earned a place as an undergraduate student in Ohio State’s electrical and computer engineering.

After graduating, Greenbaum decided to stay on at Ohio State to pursue an ECE Master of Science degree.

The experience led to joining Texas Instruments as an engineer and more recently returning back to Ohio State as a Lecturer teaching freshman ECE courses. The circle back was intentional.

“I’m just so grateful for those opportunities that I was afforded,” Greenbaum said.

Staying at Ohio State to earn his MS degree, he said, gave him an additional year to get to the Career Fair and extra time to interact with recruiters on campus. It also provided more time to gain hands-on experience through student clubs and internships.

Well documented during his time at Ohio State was Greenbaum’s role in ECE Professor Betty Lise Anderson’s K-12 STEM Education Outreach Program. He also helped launch the children’s RoboZoo Makeathon project, took part in hackathons, and joined Buckeye Current to learn more about electrical vehicle research and its role in society.

Each experience taught him something new about himself.

Greenbaum now hopes to pay forward the mentorship others dedicated toward him. His advice to students considering graduate school: focus on the journey instead of the destination.

“Know thyself,” he said. “You have to know what is important to you. And carpe diem, ask yourself what are the fleeting opportunities available to you now.”

Greenbaum is passionate about solving climate change. At Texas Instruments he joined a team making a chip used in solar inverters, EV drive trains, and industrial equipment.

His work at Texas Instruments led to being asked to speak about climate change on the radio – something terrifying to him at the time. It only ended up opening more doors. He then became a statewide coordinator for Texas legislative efforts battling climate change.

“That’s something I never dreamed I would do, and it all started from doing that thing that scared me,” Greenbaum said.

His next piece of advice for students: Step out of your comfort zone.

“For God’s sake, do something constructive that terrifies you,” Greenbaum said. “Find something you are scared to do, but the doing of it will change you for the better.”

Greenbaum

After leaving Texas Instruments, Greenbaum went to help his grandmother on the farm, incorporating his engineering mindset toward growing thousands of pounds of green beans.

“It was a totally new task for me,” he said. “I had never planted vegetables on a scale like this. We were able to share these with my friends, my family, and the local community.”

The alumnus said his whole mission in life is to collaborate with other people toward making a positive difference in the world. The people he learned from at Ohio State helped guide him on this path.

“The ECE Outreach Program was really important to me. Dr. Anderson was an excellent mentor,” he said. “I actually grew a lot as an individual, doing technical presentations, public speaking, or networking skills.”

Being inspired by ECE Professor Lee Potter was also a pivotal experience.

“The best instructor I think I’ve ever had,” Greenbaum said. “He really cares about the success of his students and it shows.”

As a lecturer now at Ohio State, Greenbaum said he wants to teach his students about “grokking” the engineering mindset – understanding something to the point where it becomes intuitive toward every other aspect of their lives.

‘When you come in as a freshman engineering student, your job may not have been invented yet,” Greenbaum said. “It’s imperative that we ask the question: How would we like to make the world differently.”

Category: Alumni