Jeff Karper ’06 ’08G believes it is important to support the success of others.

The Lehigh electrical engineering alum is a sensor hardware engineering manager for Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems. In this role, he leads an organization of electrical and computer engineers in product and technology development for multifunction sensors supporting ground, air, and sea-based systems.

“Supporting the success of others is a foundational belief that developed from my daily interactions and experiences with the electrical and computer engineering faculty, my mentors at Lehigh, and my peers in the ECE graduate program,” Karper says. “I developed strong relationships, and throughout my entire time at Lehigh, I felt like they were all invested in my success.”

As a member of the Lehigh community, Karper says he felt supported while being exposed to new ideas and opportunities for growth. Now, from his technical leadership role in industry, he’s paying it forward.

“I’ve carried this into my career by ensuring that I surround myself with people who will challenge me with different perspectives. I focus on listening and learning, translating the knowledge and experience of a diverse and high-performing team into successful outcomes. Delivering advanced capabilities to our customers so they can meet their challenging missions requires focus, collaboration, intellectual curiosity, and empathetic leadership. I strive to build teams with people who demonstrate these personal and professional traits I cultivated at Lehigh.”

Read on to learn more about Karper’s experiences and takeaways from his undergraduate and graduate studies in the Rossin College.

How did your Lehigh experience set you up for success?

Lehigh’s master’s program in electrical and computer engineering provided the deeper technical foundation I needed to start my career in the field I desired. Lehigh also gave me the opportunity to be involved in several organizations that provided personal and leadership growth.

The experience of being a teaching assistant while in the ECE graduate program clarified my path and interest in taking on a technical leadership position like the one I hold today. As a TA, I had the opportunity to give back to the ECE undergraduate program, while continuing to strengthen my technical education and develop relationships with ECE faculty and staff. I found great enjoyment in dedicating my time to help undergraduate students achieve success and give them positive experiences in their ECE courses.

I also came to recognize the importance of surrounding myself with people who would challenge and support me as I grew into roles that I may not have envisioned. During my graduate studies, the ECE faculty and staff were so helpful in challenging me with assignments and opportunities that helped me stretch to new levels. They made themselves available to support me and ensured that I was on a path to success. I strive to emulate their dedication to helping me become a better engineer and leader with the team that I work for today.

Additionally, I was able to participate in the Lehigh community, specifically in several music performance ensembles, which taught me the importance of balancing academic and technical growth with other interests. In this way, I grew my leadership ability, developed lasting personal and professional relationships, and realized the importance of spending time engaged in activities outside of the daily rigors of ECE work. These relationships have enabled me to continue my involvement with Lehigh and the ECE department well after I graduated.

What challenges did you encounter as a Lehigh student and what did you learn from them?

I learned to be deliberate in how I spend my time and where I commit my efforts: focusing on continuous learning across the breadth and depth of ECE topics, reaching out for help when I need it, spending time supporting the growth of others, and participating in community and leadership activities that expand my thinking and improve my judgment in my daily work.

Aside from completing my own assignments and projects, I spent a significant amount of time each week in my TA role—preparing to teach my recitation sections, grading papers, providing feedback to students, and meeting with faculty advisors. I genuinely liked meeting with undergraduate students for as long as it took to answer their questions. I enjoyed this and I saw ECE faculty and fellow graduate students doing the same thing. In this way, we fostered a supportive learning community within the department.

It was difficult to manage my time, balancing the rigorous ECE academic program while learning more about myself and my career interests. I developed foundational habits while at Lehigh, which have helped me, as this challenge of continuous learning and personal reinvention has carried forward to my career. Because of my academic foundation at Lehigh, I have been able to contribute to several technical areas within electrical and computer engineering, including RF, power, integrated circuit design, and computing infrastructure.

Overall, Lehigh provided ample opportunities and a good support system to be successful on my path. The values that were instilled in me from my time at Lehigh have impacted my life and career and shaped the person I am today.

Jeff Karper
Lehigh provided ample opportunities and a good support system. The ECE graduate program helped me develop deeper relationships with peers and faculty, and I felt like they were all invested in my success. Being part of the Lehigh community ensured that I was constantly learning and being challenged. I’ve carried this into my career by surrounding myself with people who bring different ideas and perspectives to the team.
Jeff Karper ’06 ’08G, Sensor Hardware Engineering Manager, Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems