David M. Giltner

Dr. David M.  Giltner, PhD

Photonics technology commercialization, product management systems, and business development Author, speaker and career coach
Founder of TurningScience

PO Box 4669

Boulder CO 80306-4669
United States

E-mail: dgiltner@turningscience.com
Web: http://TurningScience.com

Area of Expertise

Coaching scientists and engineers on the skills needed to build a rewarding career in industry and be effective in a product development environment.


David Giltner has worked for more than 20 years commercializing photonics technology with a range of companies that includes SDL, Inc. JDS Uniphase, Ball Aerospace, and Zolo Technologies. He is also very active in the local technology scene in Bolder, Colorado, where he is an advisor for the Innovation Center of the Rockies and served three years as President of the Colorado Photonics Industry Association. David holds a PhD in Physics from Colorado State University where he performed fundamental research in laser spectroscopy. He loves to tell the story of how he transitioned from an academic career path to design and build a rewarding and exciting career in industry. In 2010 he published the book Turning Science into Things People Need, and founded TurningScience to focus on helping other scientists and engineers achieve similar success in their own careers.

Lecture Title(s)

How is working in industry different than working in academia?

Working for a company is very different than working in an academic research lab, and the skills, habits, and focus required to be successful are also quite different. In this talk, I outline the 5 primary differences between working in industry and working in academia, and discuss how to approach each in an effective manner. If you can focus on these and develop habits of thinking around them, you will be successful making the transition.

Telling better stories with the same facts:

Picture this: You are sitting in an interview at the company that you have had your eyes on for two years. You are so excited about this opportunity to make your mark in the real world. The hiring manager asks you to describe two of your greatest accomplishments from your graduate career. What do you tell her about your graduate school experience to make her think "This is the person I need on my team!"? Are you confident that you can tell a story to someone outside of academia that makes you stand out? Many graduate students are good at describing their accomplishments to someone in an academic setting who understands their research. But it's not so easy to make disseration research sound appealing to someone from the private sector who knows very little about your research. That's what this workshop is all about. Learn how to turn your experience into stories that will make you stand out!

Can a scientist find a rewarding career in industry?

When considering an opportunity to pursue a career in industry, many graduate students in science face real challenges. Here are a few difficult questions they may ask:

  • What skills do I have that are useful in industry?
  • How is work in industry different than academia?
  • Will I enjoy working at a company instead of a research lab?
  • What do I need to learn in order to be successful in this new environment?
  • What kind of jobs do scientists hold in the private sector?
  • Can a scientist become a successful entrepreneur?

To find answers to these questions, the speaker has interviewed many people who have successfully made the transition from research scientist to industrial scientist or successful entrepreneur. This talk will discuss what he learned from these interviews regarding:

  1. The roles a scientist can play in industry,
  2. The skills and attributes of a scientist that are particularly useful in an industry environment, and
  3. The new skills and patterns of thinking that a scientist may need to develop to be successful in industry.

For the student considering a rewarding career in industry, this talk will provide valuable insight into how to launch a successful and rewarding career in the private sector.

Industry Boot Camp

Industry Boot Camp is a series of topics designed to prepare students for the world of product development that they will enter if they pursue a career in industry. Working for a company is very different than working on your thesis, and success in industry requires learning new habits to replace some of those you have learned in graduate school.

Boot Camp Topics:


  • How is working in industry different than working in academia?
  • Company structure and product development teams - who does what?

Part 1 - Helping your Employer:

  • Projects in industry - why schedule is critical
  • Finance - the language of business
  • Getting help from others - don't reinvent the wheel

Part 2 - Helping yourself

  • Follow your strengths and follow the money
  • Telling better stories with the same facts - how to sell your skills and get promoted
  • Making decisions when you have a deadline

This workshop can be delivered in full (2 days) or as a subset of this agenda. Contact the speaker to discuss options and associated fees.

2019 Salary Report

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