• 13 Questions – Tom Mittelbrun

13 Questions – Tom Mittelbrun

Tom Mittlebrun

In a new series, “13 Questions,” we invite a guest each week to answer 13  questions on a range of topics in order to get to know them better.

Department of Materials Science and Engineering Masters Student Tom Mittelbrun hails from the Wolverine state of Michigan and attended Michigan State University as an undergrad. At Penn, he’s also a Graduate Student Fellow in the Singh Center for Nanotechnology, a program that provides experience via hand’s-on training in a cleanroom environment.  A recent self-described rock climbing enthusiast, Tom was kind enough to be the first individual to answer our 13 questions.


  1. What name, names do you go by?
    My name is Thomas Mittelbrun, but I typically go by Tom.
  2. What is your favorite color?
    My favorite color is blue. It has been my favorite color since I was 5 years old.
  3. Do you intend to launch your career in academia or industry?
    I plan to start my career in industry, specifically the semiconductor industry. My main interests are in equipment manufacturers, fabrication facilities, and foundries.
  4. What animal do you most identify with?
    I would have to choose a turtle. While my personality may not be as reserved as what comes to mind when somebody thinks of turtles, I’ve been associated with turtles since my childhood. Growing up, everyone in my immediate family had an animal they were associated with due to their affection towards them. My twin brother, older brother, sister, mom, and dad were paired with ducks, dogs, cats, humming birds, and deer, respectively. I certainly have not lost my interest in turtles and hope to own one someday as a pet.
  5. What individual or moment has had the greatest impact on your life?
    My high school earth science/astronomy teacher had the biggest impact on my life. My academic and career interests were greatly influenced by my time spent learning from him. His passions and interests fed into my curiosities and desire to learn more about world around me. If it wasn’t for him, I would not be on this path as a materials science and engineering student today.
  6. Your craft crashes/capsizes and you’re stuck on an island with five personal items of your choice?
    I would hope to have a solar powered flashlight, Swiss Army Knife, hammock, and a fishing kit for the sake of survival. I would also like to have a copy of my family’s photo album to look through as a pass time and to give me motivation to find a way off the island.
  7. Which talent would you most like to have?
    I would love to have photographic memory. It would undoubtedly be useful in learning and retaining information.
  8. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
    I tend to overuse “honestly” and “actually” quite a bit.
  9. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
    My greatest achievement was recovering from two back-to-back ACL tears and successfully completing the Tough Mudder Run. The Tough Mudder is a challenge that involves running 10 – 12 miles while completing many obstacle courses along the way. It took 6 months after each surgery to recover from the ACL tears. It was both physically and mentally challenging. I often couldn’t shake the fear that I would end up tearing my ACL for a third time if I attempted the Tough Mudder. However, I completed the run and have never felt so accomplished as when I crossed that finish line without injuring myself.
  10. If you were given two options: The gift of $1,000,000, or the opportunity to go back in time to relive your life, knowing what you know now, which option would you take?
    I would go back in time to relive my life. Not only do I think it would be an enjoyable experience, I also believe I could attain more than $1,000,000 using knowledge of the future that I would be taking with me.
  11. Lunch with three people living or dead?
    I would choose to have lunch with former physicist Richard Feynman, music artist J. Cole, and a famous youtuber that goes by Mr. Beast. These are three individuals that I hold in high regard that I would love pick their brains while conversing over lunch. I would likely learn a lot but very different things from each one of them.
  12. What is your motto?
    I don’t necessarily believe everything happens for the best but I do believe you can make the best out of everything.
  13. Penn Engineering is…
    ….overcoming challenges you never thought you could.

Next week’s guest: Emily Beeman