As Omar Alam sat in his cap and gown alongside his fellow Cornell graduates in spring 2017, he took commencement speaker Joe Biden’s words to heart.
“Biden told us to go out and make an impact not only in our professions, but also in our communities, because we’re all members of community and of this country,” said Alam. “That message really struck a chord with me.”
One week later, Alam moved to Arizona to start his new job at Viasat’s Tempe office as a RF/Microwave Test Engineer. He soon realized that Viasat was the perfect company at which to live out Biden’s words.
“I found myself working at a place that challenged me professionally and encouraged me to have an impact on society through my job and outreach,” said Alam.
On a typical day, Alam comes into the office around 7:30 a.m. and heads straight to his computer, where he spends the morning and early afternoon coding and designing test hardware.
“Once a Viasat satellite component is designed, its functionality needs to be verified and thoroughly vetted,” explained Alam. “I make sure it’s working properly, and I catch any errors in the performance of the device.”
For the next portion of the day, Alam spends his time in the lab doing hands-on work, which is one of his favorite parts of the job. He works on satellites that support Viasat’s defense contracts and likes that his job combines both software and hardware engineering.
“The work that I’m doing here is cutting edge,” said Alam. “It’s been very rewarding to work on technology that’s changing the game.”
But Alam doesn’t stop there. He spends a few hours of the day pursuing volunteer opportunities in Phoenix and talking to community members about partnering with Viasat at their events. He especially focuses on a program he pioneered called ViaSTEM, which encourages underserved Arizona kids to pursue STEM careers.
“When I was in school, I was exposed to STEM outreach that professionals were doing in my underserved part of Minneapolis,” said Alam. “Now that I’m a professional engineer, I want to focus on helping the kids in K-12, because they’re ultimately going to be the next generation working at Viasat.”
When he’s not at work or participating in outreach, Alam enjoys hanging out with his class of new graduates and young professionals.
“We all got really close,” said Alam.
The group typically spends their Sundays going on various adventures, often hiking and exploring mountains or national forests.
“One time we went up to the northern tip of Arizona to see Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. It was very picturesque,” said Alam. “And a few weekends ago, we drove to Los Angeles to do some sightseeing.”
Within the group, Alam enjoys the different personalities and perspectives each individual brings to the table.
“We aren’t all the same type of engineer. You get the whole spectrum – electrical, mechanical, software, quality assurance. It’s really nice to have that dynamic,” he said. “We’ll be on a hike and start talking about anything technical, and everyone is able to chip in some new pieces of information. We’re able to learn from one another.”
Alam, who recently won Viasat’s “Rock Star Volunteer of the Month,” continues to combine his passion for engineering and outreach today. He’s now working to bring “Tech Trek,” a Viasat program for middle school girls pursuing STEM, to the Tempe, AZ campus.
“I love working at a place where I can make an impact on society through my job,” said Alam. “Life’s more fruitful and rewarding that way.”