Alumni Profile: Nicky Cheng

What do you do with a thirst for success and a Harrisburg University of Science and Technology degree in biotechnology with an emphasis on microbiology? You go work for a beer company, of course! And, not just any beer company; you get a job as a microbiologist at one of the most successful brewing companies in the world Samuel Adams!

Nicky Cheng, a 2009 graduate of Harrisburg University, began working at Sam Adams in September of 2013. “I take samples throughout the beer making progress testing for microbial contamination. I also test air samples as well as raw materials for contamination,” his said.

He cultivates and maintains of all the yeast strains used to make Boston beer products and he troubleshoots any combination issues that may arise. Cheng feels that microbio media preparation is a must-know skill in his job, since the company goes through so many tests in a day. “This is the best part of my job. Besides being able to work on beer, this job is part scientist-part detective.”

Cheng said he believes that in order to get onto the first rung of the ladder of success, one has to be able to build upon a solid educational foundation. He wouldn’t give up his experiences at HU for anything.

He attended community college before deciding to transfer to a four-year school. Cheng received acceptance letters from Penn State, Temple and Drexel, but there was something in particular that drew him to Harrisburg University. He heard the classes at HU are unique and that he would get a college experience packed full of real-world field knowledge.

“I feel the thing that drew me into HU was the fact that they used real world experience to teach classes,” says Cheng. “Had I wanted to study and read text book examples, which never happen in the real world, any school could have given me that. However, the professors at HU had all worked out in the field, doing what they are now teaching.”

The student body at Harrisburg University is diverse. Not everyone works at the same pace. The teachers, he recalls, worked with all of the students to get everyone excited about the workforce. They are always focused on student growth and success.

“HU is a great school,” he says. “I’ve been hired by some of the best companies out there — Pfizer, Sigma Aldrich and Samuel Adams thanks to the education I received at Harrisburg.”

Some of Cheng’s previous employers had never even heard of Harrisburg University, but after seeing the quality of his work and the experiences he gained during his attendance, the companies were happy to have Cheng on their team. “It’s a small school, but put in the hard work, study, look for as many internships as possible and you will be successful.”

Cheng is working his way up the ladder to a career of his dreams, maybe in medical research. “I have worked as an environmental microbiologist, food microbiologist, a QA inspector for Pfizer, as well as a chemical weigher for Sigma Aldrich. I think medical research is one other thing I would like to test out in order to figure out what I truly like most.”