Mechanical engineering grad Maxwell Dumerant ’20 of Malden, Mass., landed a job right out of college as a systems engineer at General Dynamics Electric Boat, a submarine builder for the U.S. Navy based in Groton, Conn.
Manufacturing complex submarine motors may feel like a breeze compared to what Dumerant went through during the spring semester of his senior year.
First, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into his coursework, his senior capstone project and his job search. Then, Dumerant was activated by the Massachusetts National Guard to assist with the state’s pandemic response.
As a truck driver for a regiment based in Worcester, Dumerant delivered personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals, fire departments and police stations across the region. When New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft flew in 1.2 million N95 masks from China on his team plane, Dumerant was on the tarmac at Logan Airport to unload the cargo.
“It was a very interesting semester,” says Dumerant.
When his four classes moved online, he watched recorded lectures during his free time. His capstone team, which worked with Collins Aerospace on building a bracket for a spacecraft carrier, also worked around his busy schedule.
“I was very lucky to be in that group. Everyone was very generous,” says Dumerant, who served as vice president of UML’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers his senior year.
Determined to land a job before graduating, Dumerant spent an hour each night applying online. “I think I applied to every mechanical engineering position on Handshake,” he says of the university’s online recruiting platform.
When the pandemic hit, he started to panic.
“Oh man, now I’m never going to get a job right out of college,” Dumerant remembers thinking. He considered returning to the Francis College of Engineering for his master’s degree.
Then he remembered a connection who worked at General Dynamics Electric Boat. Dumerant was familiar with the company; he landed an internship his junior year at Leonardo DRS, which makes submarine motors and partners with Electric Boat.
Dumerant applied online for every entry-level engineering position he could find at the company — mechanical, structural, electrical — “just so they could see my name,” he says. Dumerant’s diligence paid off: He got a phone interview over spring break. The only catch now was to find a quiet place to talk on the phone.
“My family’s pretty big, and privacy isn’t really a thing in our house,” he says. “So I took my laptop out to my car and did the interview in my driveway.”
He was hired in late April.
“Everything worked out,” says Dumerant, who began college at UMass Dartmouth before transferring to UML midway through his sophomore year.
He has now relocated to New London, Conn., about 15 minutes from his new office. While many of the employees are authorized to work from home, Dumerant is training on site.
“Being open-minded about where I landed a job was very important to me. I didn’t want to be fixed to one thing,” says Dumerant, who believes his mechanical engineering degree will allow him to explore a wide range of opportunities within the company.
“My first day on the job, one of the supervisors made a joke: ‘None of us went to school for submarines, but I guess we’re all in the same boat.’ That really stuck with me,” Dumerant says. “I always loved engineering, but I picked mechanical because I knew how flexible it was. I could take mechanical engineering anywhere I wanted.”