News & Events

Complementary Skills Panel

Professional Development and Learning Series

Event Details

Professional Development Opportunities

Date: August 18, 2020

Time: 1:30pm - 3:00pm

Tuesday August 18, 2020, 1:30pm – 3:00pm EDT

From Academia to Industry – A Need for Complementary Skills in Pursuit of Your New Career.

The pursuit of an academic career in the sciences faces stiff competition. While some aspiring scientists find space in academic settings after their degrees, many others pursue meaningful careers outside of academia. There is a critical need (and desire) for many aspiring scientists to pursue careers in industry. But beyond being talented and trained researchers, what complimentary or transferable skills do you need to accelerate your career outside of academia? Join our panelists, Chelsea Elliot (Director, Corporate Relations, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences/Queen’s), Dr. Martin Smith (Deputy Manager of R&D, Bubble Technology Industries Inc.) and Dr. Cole Van Vlack (Director of Operations and Development, IPG Photonics) as they discuss their unique career experiences and the importance of complementary skills when pursuing non-academic employment.


Chelsea Elliott is the Director of Corporate Relations for the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Queen’s University. She is an electrical engineer with 20 years of experience managing innovative development projects and leading engineering teams. She has instructed engineering students in design thinking, project management, and professional communication. She led development of the Queen’s Experiential Learning Hub and managed the Queen’s University Internship Program Admin team. She has worked in Canada, the U.S. and Scandinavia, in both engineering industry and academia. Her interdisciplinary background, combined with a passion for developing people and partnerships, has led to her current role developing strategy to support student professional growth and connect employers in all industries with Queen’s engineering and applied science students.

Dr. Martin Smith is the Manager of Research and Development at Bubble Technology Industries (BTI) in Chalk River, ON. He received his PhD in nuclear physics from the University of Liverpool (UK) and subsequently held research positions at the University of Paisley (UK), Rutgers University (USA), and TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics. For the past 15 years, he has worked at BTI on radiation-detection instrumentation for applications including space and homeland security. In his current role, he provides direction for a wide range of interdisciplinary research programs that include physics, chemistry, electronics, mechanical design, software, prototyping, and assembly.

Dr. Cole Van Vlack graduated with a PhD in Physics from Queen’s University in 2012, where he studied Quantum Optics and Nano-Photonics. He was the first employee to join Laser Depth Dynamics as the software lead and has been studying software development, product development and business development as the team boot-strapped Laser Depth Dynamics from 3 people to 15 people before it was ultimately acquired by IPG Photonics in 2017. Dr. Van Vlack continues to lead the software team and has helped to double the organization.