PHutures – 100 Alumni Voices »

Elliot Wainwright

“Going into government work is a pretty specific outlet of one’s interests and talents, and they have to really coincide. And it’s not for everyone. But, for me, it ended up being basically exactly what I wanted to do.”

Whiting School of Engineering

Materials Science & Engineering, PhD 2020

Research Materials Engineer at U.S. Army, DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory

Elliot‘s Podcast Episode

In this episode, we discuss the fundamental role of mentoring in Elliot’s decision to pursue his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering and throughout his graduate program, the importance of forming relationships with peers both within and external to his cohort, and how he intentionally aligned his graduate work and career search to successfully land a job with the Department of Defense (DOD).

Learn More About Elliot‘s Story

This group of friends (among many others) were hugely influential in my life, and this picture is both a tribute to them and also the perfect backdrop to help explain why. Having met in undergrad at The College of Wooster (and in one case having been close friends since high school!), I think a person only makes it to where they are with the support and friendship of those around them. My friendships formed at Wooster remain the most important in my life. In this picture we had the opportunity to go tour Tyndall AFB in Florida and see an F-22 directly on the flight line. This was not only an amazing experience but also reinforced me wanting to go into a field of serving the nation’s defense in some way. I remember having a conversation with Maj. Gen. Briggs (Ret.) (right) when I was an incoming freshman at Wooster and I told him my college admission essay was on wanting to develop better kinds of body armor to protect our soldiers. Having served in Afghanistan, his guidance was simply: “make it lighter”. That small nugget of advice was one important piece along my path into a career in materials science and government service.

Ok, ok, I know it’s probably cheesy and everyone always thinks their S.O. is the most important and transformative person in their life, but in this case it has to be mentioned. Having met at Wooster and reconnected after graduation, she’s been my rock and the most important part of my life story. We got married during the pandemic and it’s the best and more important decision I’ve made in my life. I love this picture not only because it reflects our love for nature (just look at that stud of a tree!) but also because she looks like an absolute movie star. People need individuals who inspire them, who they can look up to, and who make it easier to get out of bed in the morning. As my dad said at our wedding, “life’s joys will be doubled, and life’s sorrows will be halved.” She’s been all that and more.