Arrival in a tenure track faculty position is frequently secured after graduate research and/or a post-doctoral appointment. My journey, however, is less conventional and spans positions within an industrial research center, a manufacturing development organization, and a DOE national laboratory. My experience provided numerous benefits including real-world problem solving, applied research with tangible impact, honing of project management skills, broad technical exposure, business development preparation, and a diverse network. Challenges in the “road less travelled”, however, include minor bumps, ex. neglected math skills, important adjustments, ex. performing research with an inexperienced workforce, and major changes, ex. “starting over” in securing technical and financial resources for research. The impact of this path will be discussed, highlighting the advantages of academic freedom and the transitions necessary in research, teaching and service. Finally, valuable successes and missteps will be shared in anticipation of their utility to provide guidance and encouragement for others.