How did you become interested in engineering and in UW ISE in particular? Tell us about the pathways leading you here.
I have always loved math and school in general, and I spent a lot of my free time solving any puzzle I could get my hands on as a kid. When I started taking apart all of the pens and remotes in the house and putting them back together, my parents introduced me to the field of engineering. So I knew engineering was an option, but I didn’t really fall in love and solidify my decision until my sophomore year of high school when I took an “engineering” class that taught rhino and solidworks computer-aided modeling. It was fun and I was good at it, so I applied to colleges with large engineering departments.
I had never actually heard of industrial engineering until I went to a pre-engineering dinner in my dorm my freshman year of college. There I talked to several different types of engineers. The industrial engineers that I talked to were by far the most fun and interesting out of the group. Afterwards I researched industrial engineering and liked the variety of career options it had. I’ve fallen more in love with industrial engineering with every class I’ve taken in the major.
Tell us about an interesting internship or research lab experience.
Over the summer of 2020 I worked as a quality engineer at Boeing’s Everett facility. I got to go into the factory several times and watch drilling jobs in the wing majors section. There I was able to ask questions of the workers and foremen, and help them with any problems they had like incorrect equipment or excess debris causing rework and safety hazards. I worked with a team of engineers to fix these problems and it felt great to be able to make a difference at such a large company.
At Boeing I also got to create a Process Failure Mode Effects Analysis (PFMEA), organize spreadsheets with hundreds of thousands of data points, and learn VBA in order to automate spreadsheets for upper management. By far the best part of my summer was the tours. I went inside every different type of plane they make at the factory while they were being made. I saw how they painted the planes, the tilted floor where they have special ladders to do electrical work inside completed wings, and so much more. In a factory as big as the one in Everett, there are tons of interesting nooks and crannies.
What do you enjoy most about ISE?
Oh, it’s all fun. I get to work with lots of different people, learn a wide range of new skills, and even go on field trips. Honestly though, the thing I probably enjoy the most is the satisfaction of organizing a process and knocking minutes and sometimes even hours off the time. I love efficiency and getting to make people’s lives easier at work through ergonomics, lean principles, and sometimes just common sense. An industrial engineer is often in the unique position of having direct access to both the workers and management and has the opportunity to fix communication or workflow issues. I thrive on solving problems like this, and I’m excited to get to see the effects of my work in the near future.
What do you like about the ISE department?
Hands down it’s the faculty and staff. Our adviser knows everyone’s name in the whole department and she feels like your friend from the moment you walk into her office for the first time. She goes out of her way for us. The same can be said for our professors. They are interesting, care about their students, and are superior teachers. The material isn’t easy, but it’s presented clearly. As a side note, I also really like our department’s study room. Super comfy couches.
What advice do you have for prospective students?
ISE is a much newer field than mechanical or electrical engineering, so many people don’t know exactly what the degree entails. We take many statistics classes and several lean manufacturing/factory design type classes. We are also required to learn two programming languages and simulation software to help us with design and statistical analysis. Industrial engineers can go into quality engineering, project engineering, manufacturing engineering, and many other fields. Often they go on to get an MBA and become upper management or become consultants and travel a lot.
The capstone program is an amazing part of our department. Every student gets to become a consultant for a company and develop a project that, if successful, will be implemented in real life. These projects include designing warehouses and product lines, performing motion and time studies, developing software, and creating tools to fill a need. Industrial engineering is an incredibly broad and useful degree and I’m thankful every day that this is where I chose to be.