Montana Tech gave electrical engineer the technical expertise to join America’s leading steelmaker

Jonathan Schulz at work

If you ask Jonathan Schulz (Electrical Engineering, ’17) why he loves engineering, his answer is simple.

“I like all engineering,” Schulz said. “I enjoy looking at the world a little differently, and manipulating the world around us to achieve a goal.”

Schulz lives in Memphis, Tennessee, and is an electrical maintenance lead at Nucor Corporation, the largest steel and steel products manufacturer in North America. His division converts scrap metal into Special Bar Quality (SBQ) steel, and tests for possible defects.

“The team I work with maintains all the electrical, mechanical, and automation systems,” Schulz said. “We keep the equipment running, plan the downtime to keep it reliable, and work through a continuous flow of improvement projects.”

Schulz says he learned about Montana Tech after completing five years of service in the United States Marine Corps. Originally from Wisconsin, Schulz’s parents moved to Darby during his military service. Growing up, Schulz liked to work on cars, and when he entered the military he served as an air traffic control communications technician, which required training and knowledge of electrical systems.

“Montana Tech seemed like the way to take the next step in the field,” Schulz said.

Schulz utilized the GI Bill to help cover college costs, and he says connecting with other veterans on campus helped him successfully transition to civilian life as a student.

“I came out of the military as a sergeant, and I was used to having a lot of responsibility that 18-year-olds on campus had not had,” Schulz said. “Coming to college was more of a challenge than I thought it would be, and having those connections with other veterans to help make that transition helped out a lot.”

Schulz says Montana Tech prepared him for his career by making sure he was technically prepared. 

“I think some of the best leaders are technical experts,” Schulz said.

He had some advice for students considering electrical engineering.

“Electrical engineering is really broad,” Schulz said. “Figure out what you enjoy. Hone in on what area you want to be in. I never wanted to be at a desk very long, and I appreciate that my current position is fast-paced and hands-on.”

Schulz also has words of wisdom for engineers, regardless of specialization.

“If you want to have a career in engineering, that’s a great thing,” Schulz said. “The engineering degree is the stepping stone. It teaches you the fundamentals to get into the industry. Begin with the end in mind. If you can do that, going into your career, you’ll do great. Take note of your family or personal values. You want to find a company that reflects those values. You don’t want to have to pretend to fit in. Nucor has made me a better person at work and for my family because their values match mine.”

Schulz knows it can be difficult to pick a path when you are young, but says it pays off.

“You are making some of the hardest decisions that set the path of your life, but your trajectory is based on decisions you make over time, starting right now,” Schulz said.

While there are plenty of emerging STEM fields vying for students, Schulz says electrical engineering remains a great choice.

“You get a lot of buzzwords like ‘AI’ and ‘machine learning,’ but the building blocks for all of that stuff to work is the electrical and mechanical systems that are plugged into those computer models. I think a lot of our infrastructure moving forward is based around electrical engineering.”