Industrial Systems and Engineering Student Profile
Name: Megan Bredehorst
Graduation Year: 2016
How and why did you choose your major?
I had always enjoyed my math classes and knew I wanted to incorporate that into a career. Conveniently, STEM majors generally lead to good jobs and I decided to take a look into what careers came from the different offered majors. Landing on engineering, I had no idea which type was best for me. I was interested in the medical field but wanted to work closely with people and business processes, rather than a primarily technical focus. This led me to Industrial Engineering my freshman year and I immediately made the switch. It was the best decision I could have made and am so happy I didn't stick with a major that didn't interest me.
Please give a description (in your words) of your major including the things you learn, favorite classes, and any challenges you have faced.
The most amazing thing in Industrial Engineering is how many things you can do with math. Beyond the advanced calculus courses, we learn how to you mathematical modeling to understand the flow of products and materials in a supply chain, where to locate a new manufacturing facility, and so much more. While these classes are the most difficult, they are at the heart of what IEs can solve, especially at advanced levels. There is a good balance between heavily technical math courses and those than can be broadly applied. My favorite courses have related to supply chain and ensuring quality in manufacturing. This major also gives you a comprehensive understanding of how to manage a project and team using a variety of styles and strategies which is invaluable in your transition into post-grad life.
What types of experiences outside of the classroom have you had relating to your major? (i.e. clubs, jobs, internships, volunteering, study abroad etc.)
The main student group I was involved in was the Society of Women Engineers. I really cannot say enough good things about this organization- it is where I learned how to make my resume, prepare for interviews, get my first collegiate leadership positions, and later my full-time job. Beyond professional development, I think it is important for everyone to find a student group they are interested in outside of academics. I was in Admissions Ambassadors, a group that gives tours to prospective students when they come to visit campus. This allowed me to learn so much about the U and meet other students who share a passion for the University community. I was fortunate to study abroad in Toledo, Spain for a semester and would highly recommend that everyone take the chance to go abroad while in college! I was able to travel and see so much of the world at a young age and I am very grateful for that experience. I met amazing people from all over the world and my roommate from Spain is now one of my closest friends. Internships are also important and a unique way to see how a career suits you and get to apply what you have been learning in the classroom. My internship at a medical device company helped me to solidify my decision to stay in the industry after graduation and continue to use IE principles in manufacturing to improve patients' lives.
In your opinion, what is one thing, or one piece of advice that other students pursuing your major should know?
One of the best parts of being and Industrial Engineer is also the trickiest- there are endless career options! My advice would be to make an effort to find out which of these careers is the best fit for you. Of course we can't all have 20 internships to try each one out but at least take the time to ask people in these careers about their jobs and do some research on your own. I had one internship but was able to do informational interviews with people in different business functions in order to understand what my options were and where would be the best fit for me. No matter which career you choose there will be options to change later, but put yourself in the best position to have an enjoyable and rewarding experience!