Coast to Coast with Christopher Ellis ’14


When Christopher Ellis earned his degree in 2014 his story was highlighted in a poster at the commencement ceremony.

  • Degrees: Electrical Engineering Technology and Engineering Science
  • Laguna Beach High School, Class of 2004

Christopher Ellis’ hobby brought him from Southern California to Central New York and ultimately the OCC campus. The Laguna Beach native met gaming friends online and decided to come to the Syracuse area to meet them in person. During his visit their conversation turned to life and careers. “I was working odd jobs in California and was looking to get into a technical field when they told me about their experience at OCC and why I should look into it.” Ellis would return home, research the College and make the decision to move.

After taking a year to get settled, Ellis enrolled as a dual major in Electrical Engineering Technology (ELT) and Engineering Science (ES). He knew he wanted to pursue a bachelor’s degree and each program complemented the other. His demanding coursework, coupled with part-time jobs, required him to stay focused. “I was very disciplined. I had to pay close attention to my time management because I was working nearly 40 hours a week as a full time student. After every class I would work on my homework right away. I had a very regimented lifestyle between school, work and personal time.”

Today Ellis is employed as a Power Systems Engineer at Lockheed Martin.

Ellis was an outstanding student and earned membership into the College’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. He credits Professors Tab Cox (ELT) and Eugene Camerota (ES) with developing his critical thinking strategies by always connecting the theory and practical application in their curriculum.

Something happened in Ellis’ very first ELT class that would change the course of his life. It’s where he met Nicole O’Hara, ’13, the woman whom he would begin dating and following the commencement ceremony in May 2014, Ellis proposed to her in the parking lot of the SRC Arena where they had shared their first kiss.

Ellis returned to Southern California to pursue his bachelor’s degree, transferring to the University of California at San Diego. Heading west meant leaving behind O’Hara and their newborn son until he finished his education. “It was tough but we knew it would be temporary. She had a job with National Grid. I flew home as much as I could, about six times a year, to be with them.” Ellis earned his bachelor’s in June 2017, returned to Syracuse and landed a job with defense contractor Lockheed Martin as a Power Systems Engineer. “I feel very fortunate things worked out the way they did. I credit Nicole for her patience and support and for Lockheed for putting me in a great position to succeed and develop my skills.”

As Ellis reflects on his journey he credits OCC with giving him the confidence and skills to succeed. “There is no doubt OCC was right for me. It allowed me to pinpoint what I liked to do for work, as opposed to what I liked to do in my spare time, so that was an important element in getting me to where I am today.”

There is one comment

  1. Peter Gratzer

    OCC was an amazing school and real eye opener for me as well. Working on projects together as Chris and so developed the OCC IEEE chapter really opened my eyes and brought me where I am today. Chris is an intelligent, dedicated individual, great father and good friend.


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