By Ed Brennen
Of the 184 companies recruiting students for internships, co-ops and full-time positions at the Fall Career Fair, none traveled farther than California-based Applied Medical.
And none drew quite as many double-takes as the medical device company, which was represented by twin brothers Bhavan and Bhuvan Somayanda, both alumni of the Francis College of Engineering.
For the Somayanda twins, who earned their master’s degrees in plastics engineering from UML in 2015, flying 3,000 miles cross-country to recruit at their alma mater was not a problem. In fact, they considered it an honor.
“UMass Lowell has given us an education beyond our expectations, so we are really happy to help build a bridge between Applied Medical and the university,” says Bhuvan, who, like his brother, works as a process engineer.
The fact that the 29-year-old twins work at the same company is hardly a coincidence. It was their childhood dream growing up in India.
After earning their bachelor’s degrees in polymer science and technology from Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering in 2012, the brothers were looking for a top-ranked master’s program. They heard about UMass Lowell from Stephen Driscoll, a professor in the Plastics Engineering Department who has taught summer and intersession courses in India for decades.
“UMass Lowell has a great reputation worldwide, especially in India,” Bhavan says. “We were really excited when we were accepted.”
Impressed by their “maturity, sense of humor, intelligence and eagerness to learn,” Driscoll quickly recruited the twins to work on his team as research associates. Juggling their studies and research work with night jobs at the Tsongas Center, the brothers excelled and went on to receive Russell Ehlers Processing Excellence Awards from the college.
“We worked with very knowledgeable faculty on really diversified projects in state-of-the-art laboratories,” says Bhuvan, who adds that Profs. Carol Barry and Stephen McCarthy made tremendous impacts on their education.
“When UMass Lowell graduates join a company, they’re looked at as special.”
-Plastics Engineering alum Bhuvan Somayanda
With master’s degrees in hand, the brothers then moved to Minnesota (together, of course) to start their careers as process engineers – Bhuvan at Thermotech and Bhavan at nearby sister company Pioneer Plastics.
A year later, however, Bhavan accepted a job at Applied Medical and moved to Southern California. For the first time in 26 years, the twins were apart.
“It was a little tough, but we decided that always trying to stay in the same place might not be realistic,” Bhuvan says with a laugh.
The twins weren’t separated for long, though. Six months into his job at Applied Medical, Bhavan’s manager asked if he knew anyone who might be interested in an opening for a rubber process engineer.
“Yes, of course,” Bhavan said.
Reunited professionally, the brothers both got married last winter (not to twins) and are looking forward to planting roots in Southern California.
They are currently the only UML alumni working at Applied Medical, though they’re hoping to help change that.
“It’s a wonderful company, and they’re trying their best to hire more engineers from UMass Lowell,” says Bhavan, who notes that the company is looking for engineers of every discipline – mechanical, biomedical and electrical, not just plastics and rubber.
At the Career Fair, the Somayandas collected about 80 résumés. The next day at the Career & Co-op Center at University Crossing, they conducted follow-up interviews with more than two dozen of the hopefuls, looking to fill a handful of open positions.
“When UMass Lowell graduates join a company,” Bhuvan says, “they’re looked at as special.”
“Special” is certainly a word that Driscoll, their former plastics engineering mentor, would use to describe the twins.
“Their recruiting at the Career Fair confirms the high regard that Applied Medical has for them,” Driscoll says. “They personify the goals of the university: quality education, professional integrity, a commitment to excel and enthusiastic alumni support.”