Touring with major-label bands and recording albums in a Los Angeles studio sound like exciting gigs for an aspiring sound engineer. Mark Blewett (BS ’14) had amassed these kinds of experiences, but, five years into his fast-tracked career, found himself at a crossroads: he landed a lucrative sound engineering job with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and still wasn’t convinced he had reached the pinnacle of his career. “I loved working in a technical field—I was constantly learning—but I was often thinking about the future of audio and all the problems that still needed to be addressed,” he said. Feeling a strong calling to contribute technical solutions to those problems, Blewett decided to return to school.
A husband and father, Blewett says that taking time away from his family to pursue a degree was a difficult decision. But at UIC, he found opportunities beyond what he could have imagined. Blewett co-founded UIC’s Audio Engineering Society, enhanced the spacial audio capabilities of UIC’s virtual reality environment CAVE2, and designed a gaming glove that provides tactile information for a private client through UIC’s Interdisciplinary Product Development course conducted at the Innovation Center. “That was one of the most valuable experiences I’ve had at school because it taught me that I wasn’t just interested in audio, I was interested in problem solving in general,” he said.
In 2014, Blewett presented his CAVE2 work at the Audio Engineering Society’s national conference, where he met an executive from Bose Corporation. Things worked out; he started his new job at Bose as audio research engineer in January. “There aren’t many audio companies that have a nonrevenue research department where the goal isn’t to make products but to solve problems,” he said. Blewett feels a debt of gratitude to the faculty and staff who provided the space for him to flourish—and helped him get his dream job. “Touring is fun while you’re young, but getting my degree at UIC was the best decision I ever made.”