Interview with Scholarship Winner – Michael Ceraso

scholarships Apr 09, 2021

Native to New Orleans, Michael honed his ability to translate customer needs into technical solutions as a salesman for Tesla in New York. Upon returning, he joined the University of New Orleans where he made a name for himself as a top roboticist in IEEE Region 5 Robotics Competitions. From there, he went on to design custom circuit boards and firmware for the US Department of Agriculture and now advises on all things electronic through his company Ceraso Industries. For Real DFM, Michael handles all aspects of circuit board design, electronics supply chain management, assembly, testing, and firmware development.

Michael studied Psychology at Fordham University and Electrical Engineering at the University of New Orleans which led to becoming the founding member of the IPC Student Chapter at the University of New Orleans. He chose his major because as he put it: “Software rules the world, but using electronics to interact with the world is more fun. So, I wanted to do both software and hardware and become an engineer.”

Charlene Gunter du Plessis, Sr Director of the IPC Education Foundation reached out to Michael and asked him questions about his career perspectives, his journey, and advice for fellow engineering students.



Charlene: “What valuable tips do you wish to share with likeminded students regarding internships?”

Michael: “Get as many internship / project opportunities as possible. It sucks, but school sucks. Software companies are moving more and more towards looking at a programmer’s skillset instead of at their degree, and I think we’re going to see a similar trend in engineering – we tend to lag behind software. Skills matter more than degrees.”

Charlene: “What are your plans to grow professionally?”

Michael: “Well, I’m going to start working fulltime and stop being a student. So, I’m thinking about a mix of freelance/running my own business and working for someone. I think with the right opportunity, I’ll go all-in working for someone; but I’ve got that entrepreneurial itch that I just can’t seem to shake. I’m thinking of a new plan for the next 4 years now.”

Charlene: “What have you learned from professional work experiences?”

Michael: “Skills and vision matter more than degrees.”

Charlene: “How do you prepare for interviews to land a job or internship?”

Michael: “I listened to Kanye West, Run the Jewels, Big Sean, and Cardi B.”

Charlene: “What attributes of an employer are attractive to you?”

Michael: “I’m attracted to employers who are making cool things and have a good mentorship / development program. It’s important to systematically pass on knowledge so that a company can continue. Ideally, I’d learn how to run or start an engineering company.”

Charlene: “What accomplishments are you most proud of?”

Michael: “I’m really excited about a project I just finished with RealDFM in New Orleans. They sent a circuit board I designed through FCC testing, and it passed on its first go-around! That’s the first time something I touched went to the FCC, and it’s so cool to see the pictures of it being tested. Excited for when they start selling the product!”

Charlene: “What are your goals in terms of engineering today?”

Michael: “Engineering today is ~agile~. Small teams, limited resources, big impacts. That’s stressful, but you learn a ton; and I think it’s fun. My goal is to keep being part of teams like that.”

Charlene: “What do you love about the industry in general?”

Michael: “We’re creating the world. Do you remember when Netflix used to mail you physical DVDs? That wasn’t that long ago. Engineers fundamentally change how humans go about their daily lives. I love that we get to shape our own future like that.”

Charlene: “How would you describe the term “Engineering”?”

Michael: “Engineering is using what we know to create what we want. What we want and what we know determines all the steps in between.

Charlene: “Do you have short term goals?”

Michael: “Yes, Make a new 4-year plan, Network, network, network, and Make and sell my own first product.”

Charlene: “Thank you, Michael – We appreciate your time and we wish you all the best!”

Michael: “Thank you, Charlene.”




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