Noah Snyder's Unusual Way of Solving Complex Problems
The Allegheny College graduate focuses on one problem and comes up with solutions for many others.
Photos by Ryan Smith Photography
Here are some of the subjects Noah Snyder has been thinking about since his graduation from Allegheny College in 2010:
- How to prevent scar tissue from forming on electrodes implanted in patients’ brains
- Deterring bacteria from forming and multiplying on dental implants
- Keeping barnacles from attaching to the hulls of boats
- Making sure industrial heat exchangers and cooling systems don’t foul and clog.
Snyder appreciates a good challenge, and one of his first as a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh was, “How does one solve the problem of treating and maintaining electrodes so they transmit clear signals from inside a brain to bedside monitors?”
That challenge led Snyder to earn his doctorate, win more than $150,000 in Big Idea competitions, be included in the “Forbes” 30 Under 30 ranking of young innovators and co-found a company, Interphase Materials, based in Pittsburgh. Snyder is president and CEO of the company, a specialized engineering firm that provides innovative surface treatment technologies to improve the efficiency of industrial cooling systems.
“One of the most important influences of my career was the diverse education I was exposed to at Allegheny College,” Snyder says. “While at Allegheny I majored in biochemistry and neuroscience and minored in physics and Chinese studies. Being exposed to such a wide range of disciplines gave me a new perspective on my coursework and business.”
Allegheny College is one of the few liberal arts colleges in the country that asks students like Snyder to choose both a major and a minor, each of which is in a different academic division. Allegheny’s distinctive major-minor combination and hands-on learning provide students with intellectual and personal growth, helping to cultivate the creative, big-picture thinking most desired by employers and graduate schools.
Allegheny students don’t have to wait behind graduate students for research positions on faculty-led projects, but are actively engaged as research collaborators. Under the guidance of a faculty advisor in his or her major field, every Allegheny student completes the comprehensive Senior Project, also known as The Comp, a significant piece of original scholarly work with a creative, analytical or experimental focus. The project mirrors a master's thesis, demonstrating the student's ability to complete a major assignment, to work independently, to analyze and synthesize information and to write and speak persuasively.
Central to the College’s focus on experiential learning is the Allegheny Gateway, which helps students connect classroom learning with real-world experience. Since its introduction in 2015, the Gateway has received national attention. It is a central location for collaboration and study in which students can access résumé and career services, pre-professional and graduate school advising, research funding and fellowships, internships, service opportunities and more.
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