Brian Squirek harnesses the power of a Tri-C education
July 25, 2017
Brian Squirek works on engines. Big ones.
The newly minted electrical engineer is in the process of completing his second summer internship at General Electric’s locomotive engine plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, with hopes of becoming a full-time employee – and someday an engineering manager – in the company’s transportation division.
“When I first came here last year, I was blown away by the size of the engines,” said Squirek, 23, of North Royalton. “Car engines have many of the same types of sensors, but working on something so big, it’s a neat experience.”
During his GE internships, Squirek has assisted in a variety of functions, testing engines for emissions compliance, safety and performance. He’s learned about the entire process of building a locomotive engine, from design to manufacturing, testing to troubleshooting. But his hands-on education at GE is only the latest step in a five-year journey.
It’s a journey that began at Cuyahoga Community College.
When Squirek graduated from North Royalton High School in 2012, he knew he wanted to follow his grandfather, an electrical engineer at GE.
“I wanted to follow in his footsteps,” Squirek said. “He kind of served as my mentor. He was the reason I wanted to get into engineering.”
Squirek could have entered a four-year school as a freshman, but financial constraints required him to work and attend school at the same time. Seeking a lower-cost and flexible way to complete his first two years of college, he chose Tri-C.
But time and money weren’t the only advantages – Squirek quickly discovered that his Tri-C teachers took time to help him away from the classroom.
“I was initially drawn to Tri-C because the tuition was affordable and I could have flexibility with my class schedule,” Squirek said. “But I also saw how my professors really care about the students. They were always accessible, with frequent office hours where you could stop by and ask a question. They really wanted to make sure you understood the material before you moved on.”
With the support of his teachers, Squirek flourished at Tri-C. A member of Phi Theta Kappa, he graduated with honors in 2014, receiving associate of arts and associate of science degrees. In 2015, he transferred to Cleveland State University on an accelerated track to a bachelor’s degree in engineering.
“Taking classes at Tri-C helped put me on the fast-track,” he said. “When I got to CSU, I felt I was starting out a bit ahead of many other engineering students.”
Squirek received his bachelor’s in engineering from CSU this May. But he’s still studying. He’s on track to graduate from CSU next May with a Master of Science in Engineering and an MBA. And Tri-C is still playing a role.
As Squirek completes his master’s work at CSU, he continues to take business courses at Tri-C, transferring those credits to CSU as undergraduate requirements for master’s-level business courses.
“I’ve taken the majority of my undergrad business classes at Tri-C,” Squirek said. “Once again, Tri-C was the best option from a time and cost standpoint.”
After he’s donned his final cap and gown, Squirek hopes to be selected for GE’s Edison Engineering Development Program, which trains GE engineering employees for management positions within the company. He also has an interest in public service, and hopes to run for a seat on North Royalton City Council, should his job allow him to remain local.
But no matter where his new career takes him, Squirek will be grateful for his Tri-C experience and the role the College played in enabling his future success.
“Tri-C had an enormous impact on my educational path and gave me the tools to succeed in life and in my career,” he said. “I would not be where I am today if not for Tri-C.”