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MayorAndrew Nelson, mayor of the city of Bryan and former Texas A&M University student has found during his time since graduation that a degree in mechanical engineering can prepare students for a broad range of careers, including those outside the traditional engineering industry.

“It’s the ability for an engineering degree to train you to frame problems and solve them,” Nelson said. “The ability to define and solve problems is something we need in society whether you are in politics, engineering or a school teacher, being able to frame and solve problems is an essential skill.”

Nelson graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 1992.

“I enjoyed math and science,” he said. “I was drawn to an undergraduate degree in engineering because, at least at the undergraduate level, your opinions were mathematical and they could be defended on paper. I liked that objectivity.”

After graduating from Texas A&M, Nelson took a job with Anderson Consulting to work in business consulting and information technology. He has worked in the software industry since and started several companies as an entrepreneur, the latest of which is Lisam America, where Nelson serves as CEO and co-founder. The company is a joint venture with the Texas A&M University System and the Belgian software company Lisam Systems. The Bryan-based company has developed software to benefit businesses and research in 70 countries to communicate chemical hazards in products through safety data sheets that can be printed in 50 different languages.

Nelson said the endeavor has created “an international gateway.”

“We have several Belgian companies that are investing in Bryan-College Station and Texas A&M, and doing research for Texas A&M,” he said. “We started that relationship and so even though it’s been software, it has I think furthered the relationship for research at Texas A&M, economic development for the university and Bryan-College Station, and it also is great because it ties us into the international community.”

Now serving as mayor of Bryan since November 2016, Nelson said he sees his role as mayor as another way to serve his community. He offered this piece of advice for students.

“Stay creative and stay open-minded to careers that may come in front of you that are a little different than what you’re thinking,” Nelson said. “When I got my degree in mechanical engineering, the last thing I was thinking about was to do software, but in fact we do lots of software, coding and development when we are getting mechanical engineering degrees, and I was open to that and it served me very well.”