Alumni Spotlight: Jonathan Dunn

Jonathan Dunn graduated from UGA in 2006 with a B.S. in Agricultural Engineering with concentrations in mechanical systems and electrical systems. Jonathan is a Senior Quality Engineer at Carrier Transicold (United Technologies Corporation). He lives in Athens with his wife, Melanie Sgrignoli ('06), and their 3-year-old daughter, Nicola.

Why did you choose to attend UGA? 

There were several reasons I chose to attend UGA. My alternate choice, Georgia Tech, was too close to home. Being the largest school in the state UGA also had several programs however I had not declared a major until my sophomore year. I was also eligible for the HOPE Scholarship and wanted to take advantage it. These were all rational decisions. However, I believe my first inclination of wanting to go to UGA was influenced by a former girlfriend. She invited me to my first college football game which happened to be the Georgia versus Georgia Tech in 1996. UGA won the game and let’s just say it was a great first impression.

What are your best UGA memories? 

There are a surplus of UGA memories and definitely shared with many. There were the countless football games, but two games that stand out are GA-Florida [largest outdoor cocktail party] and SEC championship both in 2005. That year was UGA’s best year since 2000 in my opinion. Then there were the two nostalgic moments I stepped foot onto Sanford Stadium’s football field; the first was movie night although I don’t remember the movie. The second was graduation day which was very special because you realize all that hard work paid off. I also enjoyed walking through Tate Center at its busiest times between 11 and 1 PM. There was always lots of activity with lots of people watching or running into friends. Other memorable moments include attending sold out concerts at popular venues like 40watt, Georgia Theater, and legion field; winning a Halloween costume contest and receiving a $100 bar tab, and participating in the homecoming parade on the UGA engineering float.

What activities were you involved in at UGA? 

I held a campus student job every year for a little spending money. I worked as a lifeguard at Ramsey my freshman year and worked for food services for 3 years. Working in the dining halls was like being on the meal plan again because I always ate for free during my shifts. I just have to say that while I was in school UGA was rated the best college food services in the nation. Then there were the two sports I played every year. I played club Ultimate Frisbee for UGA one year and another year at Calpoy in San Luis Obispo during my national student exchange. I highly recommend exchange programs (national and international) just for the experience. Swimming, however, was my main sport most of college. I swam on the Athens Bulldogs Swim Club (ABSC) year-round team for 3 years. During my senior year I joined the newly formed UGA club swim team. My teammates significantly made my last collegiate year the best and most memorable.

What do you remember most about your time as an engineering student at UGA? 

Most of us would recall studying all night in the Driftmier student lounge but only a few can say that they slept overnight. I was one of those few. My most memorable engineering experience was my senior design class project, led by Dr. Kissalita. My engineering team had the amazing opportunity to travel to Morocco to see first-hand a real world problem specific to that region. That international experience was invaluable for developing a responsible solution and building a prototype back in the engineering lab. With that said, my overall senior design project experience was the pinnacle of my college engineering career but also the closest representation to the real world I was about to enter.  

Who were some of your favorite engineering professors? 

I appreciated all my professors for their hard work with real world examples and engaging lessons. However there are a few professors that just stand out. I will always remember Dr. McClendon [who taught me Statics and Dynamics] for offering the class the final exam “deal.” Regardless of the outcome of my grade I realize now that deciding to take the “deal” helped with assessing risk but provided motivation to work hard all the time. There was also Dr. Takoi Hamrita and Michael Covington who taught courses about programming micro-controllers. This was probably my most fascinating and challenging course. We created software and built several cool devices like a tachometer [measures rotational speed] and one that played UGA fight song “Glory, Glory To Ole Georgia.” Lastly, there’s Richard Conway who was my professor for Heat Transfer and is now a colleague at Carrier. 

What is your favorite thing about your job? 

I enjoy working in a manufacturing environment because of its parallels with life. There’s always some new and challenging project waiting just around the corner. One major goal in manufacturing is continuous improvement which is something I do in my personal life as well. Whether things go right or unexpectedly wrong there’s a valuable lesson to learn and eventually that experience will be applicable sometime in the future.

How has your UGA Engineering degree influenced your career? 

With an agricultural engineering degree from UGA, several prospective employers have asked me "what is agricultural engineering?" My response has always been that it’s a combination of all the classical engineering degrees rolled into one. In other words it’s more general engineering because I was able to study courses in several disciplines. With that said, I believe having a diverse engineering background allows agricultural engineers to work in any industry. Since I’m more of a hands-on person and mechanical inclined, manufacturing just suits me pretty well.

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