It's no secret that internships play a critical role in preparing for a career, and as a chemical engineering student, Michael Dockins landed enviable internship work at pharmaceutical leader Eli Lilly & Company. However, it didn't lead to a great career in chemical engineering, but steered him down a completely different path.
   At Lilly, Dockins wasn't interested in following in the footstep of engineers who spent several years working on a single project. Instead, he was intrigued by networking opportunities with Lilly's general legal counsel and patent attorneys.
   So, he went to law school at the University of Toledo after graduating in 2002. Patent attorneys are required to have a scientific background, and his Rose-Hulman background met that requirement easily. "It seemed like a natural fit."
   Dockins was a whiz in law school, graduating cum laude, serving as technical editor on the law review, and getting published in a legal journal. He passed the Ohio and Indiana bar exams, along with the patent exam, and landed a job with the law firm Fraser Clemens Martin & Miller near Toledo. He has processed more than 125 patent applications in everything from alternative energy to plastics to automotive components.
   He also dove into the world of corporate strategy by serving for a time as in-house counsel for First Solar, a leading manufacturer of thin-film photovoltaic devices. "Being on the cutting edge is a cool place to be," he observes, but that also means navigating through technology challenges which leaders face more often than followers. Competition in alternative energy is fierce and the playing field
is anything but level, especially with governments such as China's showering their home teams with support.
   Just as players in industry must keep the whole world in mind, Dockins believes Rose-Hulman needs to think strategically on a global scale and work hard to get its name out more broadly. Rose-Hulman is widely known within some engineering circles, but must spread that recognition much farther, "to have a larger portion of the population realize how great the school is."
   Dockins does his part by, among other things, representing Rose-Hulman at college fairs. He's also been an advisory board member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity's campus and international organizations. And, like lots of his peers who are a decade out of undergraduate studies, "it's all family, all the time."