Alumni Spotlight: Physics Graduate, Laser Jock, College Lecturer, Patent Holder, Scrabble Connoisseur and Author Melisa Buie
As Director of Operations and affectionately known as a laser jock at the multi-billion dollar corporation Coherent, Melisa Buie leads a team of talented people from different concentrations including engineering, planning, purchasing and production. Buie solves an array of problems from both the technical side to the business side making the best products possible for Coherent, a global supplier of industrial lasers based in California. She is a proud graduate of the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) with a Master’s of Science in Physics. And, she still gathers with small group of friends each year from her days in the Department of Physics at Auburn University.
During her time as a student, Buie explains, “I fell in love with quantum mechanics because it was completely mathematical and like a puzzle.” She also has fond memories of Professors Swanson and Pindzola’s lectures.
Buie recalls an array of incredible memories at Auburn including:
- Meeting Astronaut Kathy Thornton at a speaking engagement
- Meeting Nobel Prize-winning physicist Willis Lamb
- Meeting computational physicist Charlotte Froese Fischer, author of The Hartree-Fock Method for Atoms
- Attending her first physics conference in 1988 in Baltimore, Maryland, the American Physical Society Meeting
Buie also is a patent holder, and for eight years was an adjunct professor for biomedical, chemical and materials engineering at a leading California university.
Her advice to students today is sincere and directly from the heart. She explains, “Fall in love with your field. Work hard and persevere—no matter what happens.”
Buie participated in the Career Corner at last year’s Society of Women in Science and Mathematics Women’s Leadership Symposium and Luncheon. She also generously donated copies of her book, Problem Solving for New Engineers: What Every Engineering Manager Wants You to Know. Her book includes her background including training in lean management and an array of real-world experiences. She delves into the importance of strategy and shares how to create a strategy with essential tips. Buie provides a strategic framework for problem solving in today’s evolving engineering environment. An avid Scrabble player, Buie even includes advice comparing engineering to an easily relatable example of how you put your letters on the board and what you do with them. Watch a video of Melisa Buie sharing insight from her book on Analytically Speaking.