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Spotlight: Tom Sebastian, PhD, Principal Engineer

Tom discovered his strengths in Math and Science early as a student growing up in India. These talents slowly evolved from an interest in basic electronics to a specialized education in electromagnetics  and a career designing the innovative SmartMelter® sensors.

Tom was involved in the early stages of SmartMelter’s design, working in the field with industry partners on Research and Development and working with the PaneraTech team to create a successful product.
He was a key team member in designing two of the SmartMelter® sensors from scratch.

“It’s great to see my design and work being made into a finished product. It gives me a sense of satisfaction to actually see and feel and hold it in hand. It gives me great joy when I actually go to a customer and use my product and my design that I worked on and see the end result.”

Background and Education

Tom completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Mumbai in Electronics and Electrical Engineering. He credits his undergraduate professors here for helping him find his niche: “I was fortunate to have good professors who were very knowledgeable in their field and got me interested in this specific discipline.”

This led Tom to Arizona State University to earn a Ph.D. in Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering. He loved that his research involved hands-on work in the real world. “It was not just concept and simulation. It was also actually building and testing out in the field and out at research facilities.”

This kind of experience was exactly what PaneraTech was looking for in 2012 when CEO Yakup Bayram reached out to one of Tom’s professors. This led to an interview with Yakup, Eric, and Alex at their original location in Columbus, Ohio. Tom joined the team in January 2013 as an Antenna Engineer.

Primary Role at PaneraTech

Tom’s first role as an antenna engineer involved working with the team and on-site with industry partners to design SmartMelter® sensors. Over time, he has taken on additional responsibilities. Today he works on multiple company projects as a principal engineer.

However, Tom sees an advantage in the way the PaneraTech team works, which combines specialists who are experts in their field with a method of collaboration that keeps everyone involved in the big picture. He says, “I know what is going on with every little aspect of the project, which is great for me, because I don’t get lost in my specialty or just my focus. That’s one great thing about working here. We have different disciplines and I get to have a hands on feel of all of them and how they work. Yakup made sure that each member in each discipline is an expert so you are talking to the best in each field at this company, which is really great.”

Working at PaneraTech

Tom values the innovative nature of his work and the pride that everyone has in their accomplishments. He explains, “I think each and every member of this team really feels that. I think that’s what brings us all together. We see the results of our hard work and we see it in action and we see the response that we get from the customer. That really helps us stay as a tight-knit unit.”

He adds, “SmartMelter® really brings that out, because pretty much everyone in the company has had a hand in SmartMelter®. So everyone can see the end result and see the outcome of their hard work in the field. That’s a great feeling.”