If you’ve been around awhile you might have thought the MEM lab was just for the Introduction to Manufacturing Systems Lab (MEM 2212), and as we learned many students felt the labs were not usable for their own exploration and learning outside of class. That is about to change. Over the summer, the University and the School of Engineering provided the funding and resources to renovate the MEM lab spaces, located in EII 102 and EII 106. MEM discussed the lab spaces with various faculty and students to plan a new lab space that would be more inviting and more useful to students. While the lab is still evolving and growing in tools and lab features, the renovation is complete and students are already finding it an inviting place to meet, study and work on group projects together.
EII 106 will be the MEM Applied Learning Laboratory (ALL) and primarily used for the MEM 2212 lab course right now. Inside there will be a flexibly designed classroom area, storage cabinets for classwork, the CNC machines and the 3D printers used in the course, as well as some computers students may need as they grow in their design skills.
EII 102 will be the Exploration Laboratory and Innovation Space (ELIS) and will be a place where students can come and explore and innovate individually or as groups. There is a dedicated space with workbench tables and higher stools, a lounge area for meetings to discuss ideas or study together, a row of cabinets that will soon house exploration and learning kits to aid in learning concepts or gain new professional skills, a storage area for group projects, a conveyor table, tools, a robot arm, and additional manufacturing related exploration pieces and a conference room that students and faculty can reserve. Technology will soon be added to the space to allow for virtual meetings, digital collaboration, and more.
The lab has regular open hours and students who have completed MEM 2212 are eligible to request independent lab access. More information can be found on the MEM website at: https://mem.uconn.edu/student-experience/mem-lab/
Students who come to University of Connecticut and choose the Management and Engineering for Manufacturing (MEM) major often ask if it is really possible to graduate in four years. It is known for being one of the most rigorous undergraduate programs anywhere with 138 required credits to graduate, a very structured curriculum of required courses and few electives. Students wonder if they will have time to do anything else. This year, Doga Takunyaci is proving that not only is it possible to graduate on time in four years with an MEM degree, but also to do so while playing varsity tennis for the Huskies.
Coming from Turkey, Takunyaci knew she would ultimately major in either Mechanical Engineering or MEM and UConn offered the best mix of scholarships and academic options after she spoke with athletic recruiters from many universities. As a competitive tennis player on Turkey’s national team, she had caught the eye of UConn Tennis for good reason and started as a UConn freshman in the ACES program when she was 19 years old.
“I began as an ACES exploratory major even though I knew I wanted to major in either ME or MEM, so I made sure to take the classes that were common to both majors and that way I didn’t get behind with the required classes,” she said.
Everyone at UConn and in the athletic department was so friendly, welcoming and helpful. While initially she was able to carefully choose her classes to not conflict with her very busy training schedule – six tennis practices per week plus three lift training days – she eventually had to negotiate her junior and senior schedules with her coaches.
“I saw that some MEM classes were always offered at the same time each semester so after a while I knew I would have to work with my coaches,” she said. “They were very supportive with adjusting my training times, and my instructors have also been supportive when I have to miss classes for matches.”
This fall Takunyaci is off season but still has away matches, such as one coming up at Army. These matches often take place over weekends including Fridays which demands she miss her Friday classes.
“I already talked with my professors and they are really understanding too,” she said. “Professor Cunha records all his lectures so I can watch them after and Professor Calvert said I will be missing guest speakers, which is a bummer, but there is nothing I can do about that.”
Decided MEM, it is challenging, requires a lot more credits, being a student athlete was challenging with the schedule. She had lifts three days a week and regular practices six days a week and matches on weekends which occasionally conflicts with Friday classes. Some classes conflict with classes and lifts so she had to adjust those. Most semesters we need 18 credits or more so she had to do some summer classes to catch up.
Being an international student athlete has not been without its challenges, Takunyaci notes, when asked about possible language struggles she may have faced in addition to her busy schedule. “It was more difficult the first year with English as my second language and it is getting better now. I take a second before I talk and sometimes it can be challenging in labs because I may not always know the terms or the names of the objects we are working on.” She insists it has gotten easier, but that her language would have also helped if she hadn’t had her American college experience interrupted by COVID. “Being home during COVID was definitely an interruption and hindered my language learning, but in some ways having the classes recorded was helpful because I could watch a lecture a few times if I didn’t understand a part,” she recalls.
Takunyaci encourages, “Being successful in MEM as a student athlete will really depend on the sport and on the coach and if they are really hard working and really passionate about going into engineering and want to learn more of the business side too then I totally recommend it.”
Although she was very determined to graduate in four years, with the MEM curriculum requiring about 18 credits per semester, she used summers to catch up and take a few classes, as well as gain more experience in an internship in a field she was interested in learning more about.
After she graduates she hopes to pursue either a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in something energy related. She would like to pursue a career in the energy industry.
“MEM majors have a lot of options when they graduate and that is one of the things I like about it,” she said. “When I was choosing my major I talked with my dad about it … he is a Mechanical Engineer in Turkey. We were talking about what he is using in his career and he told me his field requires skills from the business side that he needed to learn after he graduated.” Takunyaci considered a major in something like industrial engineering but found the UConn MEM program to be even broader with the business aspects.
Each year, the MEM Society welcomes a new executive board (E-board) who plan and lead the MEM Society for the year. This year’s new MEM Society E-Board Officers are:
Archana Velathapillai, President
Anne Lidsky, Vice President
Lauren Hart, Secretary, and
Emma Angelillo, Treasurer
Archana Vela is serving as the President for the MEM Society during the 2022-2023 academic year and served on the Executive Board last year as well. She is a senior from Avon, Connecticut, but also lived in Singapore and China for much of her childhood. She enjoys spending time with friends and hopes to go into either operations or project engineering. This summer she interned at Collins Aerospace as a project engineer in engine control systems. Her favorite ice cream flavor is Cookies and Cream.
Anna Lidsky is serving as the Vice President for the MEM Society during the 2022-2023 academic year. She is a junior from Newburyport, Massachusetts. She has two cats and a dog, and enjoys spending time with friends, going to the beach and snowboarding. This summer she interned as a Distribution Operations Intern at TJX, the parent company for TJMaxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods stores. She hopes to work in supply chain or process/manufacturing engineering, and plans to pursue a master’s degree in Business Analytics and Project Management through the 4+1 program partnership with MEM. Lidsky’s favorite ice cream is Cookie Dough.
Lauren Hart is serving as the Secretary for the MEM Society during the 2022-2023 academic year. Hart was born in London, England and came to University of Connecticut from Toronto, Canada. She is a junior in MEM and enjoys soccer, basketball, tennis, bike riding, and going to the beach. This summer, she worked at the Royal Bank of Canada as a data analyst intern, and she visited Cuba. She hopes to use her MEM degree in either consulting, banking or as an entrepreneur. Her favorite ice cream flavor is Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.
Emma Angelillo is serving as the Treasurer for the MEM Society during the 2022-2023 academic year. She is a junior from Southington, Connecticut. In her free time she enjoys painting, jewelry making, graphic design, spending time with her friends and going to the beach or a lake. An interesting fact about Emma is that she was named after the Friends’ character, Emma, who was Ross and Rachel’s baby because that episode aired while her mother was delivering her. Over the summer, Angelillo visited friends and traveled to Boston for the Yankees-Sox games and visited Cape Cod. She hopes work for a large medical device engineering company, such as Medtronic, perhaps in a project management role. Angelillo’s favorite ice cream flavor is Coffee Oreo.
The MEM Society welcomes new members each year and encourages MEM majors to fully participate. Meetings include hearing from MEM alumni, companies interested in recruiting MEM students for internships and careers, and social activities. For more information or to join, please visit: https://uconntact.uconn.edu/organization/memsociety
This fall, the Management and Engineering for Manufacturing program welcomed Dr. Ruimin Chen as the newest full-time faculty member to join MEM.
Dr. Chen joined the Mechanical Engineering department as an Assistant Professor in Residence in August of 2022, primarily teaching courses for MEM. Prior to her hire, she served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Connecticut in the spring after she completed her Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 2021 and a dual M.S. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from Pennsylvania State University in 2018. She obtained her B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Southeast University, China (2016).
Her research focuses on data analytics, statistical learning, system identification and uncertainty quantification, and modeling and analysis of complex systems. She is currently working on privacy and security, along with human-machine teaming in advanced manufacturing systems.
She was a natural and obvious choice for the MEM program with her comprehensive understanding of both Operations Research as well as Industrial
Engineering. She will be teaching Introduction to Manufacturing Systems (MEM 2211), Six Sigma Green Belt/Minitab (MEM 3295), and Statistical Quality Control and Reliability for Manufacturing (ENGR 3215).
Originally from Beijing, China, Dr. Chen enjoys painting, something she learned as a child in her home country. There she earned an amateur level 4 certificate in traditional Chinese painting. As a child she imagined she would grow up to be a painter, but has found some artistic enjoyment in her work making figures and posters for her research. She also enjoys all types of food and sweets but especially misses the Beijing duck made by a small restaurant near her grandfather’s apartment in Beijing.
She says she is happy to be in Connecticut with its variety in environments of both nature and city, and being so close to New York City and Boston. Her favorite place in Connecticut so far is an alpaca farm on the border of Rhode Island near Providence.
John Henry Breen, a Walpole, Massachusetts resident and University of Connecticut senior was awarded the Management and Engineering for Manufacturing Top Dog Award for 2022. This award is jointly selected by the MEM Society, co-directors and staff and awarded to the student who best represents and contributes to the MEM program.
Nominated students for this award are evaluated based on criteria such as willingness to help other MEM students, volunteering at open houses and other MEM events, participation in the MEM Society, their reputation for treating students, faculty and staff with respect, and his or her positive demeanor, good character and ability to be a role model for other MEM students. It’s a high bar worthy of the honor of Top Dog.
Last year, Breen was awarded the MEM Engagement Award for his outstanding support of the MEM Program, which never ceased during his final year at UConn as well.
Breen notably served as the MEM Lab Manager after a semester as the assistant lab manager, in which he showcased his leadership skills, positive attitude, eagerness to help others and passion for the MEM program. He also served as a TME Student Mentor as well as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for the School of Engineering. In addition, he was Secretary (2020-2021) and later Vice President (2021-2022) of the MEM Society. He could regularly be found volunteering for MEM events, offering academic assistance to his fellow students and MEM faculty and staff.
Last Summer, Breen also was hired as an Intern at Hollingsworth and Vose where he was able to apply statistical quality control and continuous improvement knowledge to accomplish the business goals.
Breen’s capstone Senior Design Project was with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center where he worked alongside student team members from various other Engineering fields.
Breen, who graduated May 2021 from UConn with his Bachelor of Science degree in Management and Engineering for Manufacturing from both the School of Business and the School of Engineering jointly, will be starting his career as a Rotational Development Program Associate at ASSA ABLOY.
In the fall of 2021, the supply chain crisis began to impact consumers and suddenly it became a term everyone was hearing. At the same time, Dr. Craig Calvert, Management and Engineering for Manufacturing (MEM) program co-Director and Assistant Professor-in-Residence for Operations and Information Management (OPIM) with the School of Business, was preparing to launch the first University of Connecticut course on supply chain management. After so much interest that fall, he also decided to offer a spring semester independent study on advanced supply chain management, during which his students are developing a board game to reinforce and teach supply chain concepts.
“Supply chains are dynamic and require constant adjustment and adaptation,” Dr. Calvert said. “When designing the supply chain management course I pulled from my years of professional and industry experience in supply chains along with speaking to other industry experts.”
Supply chain management is the process of managing the movement of goods and services from suppliers, as raw materials, and to end users, as finished goods in the most efficient and effective way. In the global economy, supply chains are becoming more complex and difficult to manage. This complexity has caused many of the supply chain shortages experienced during the COVID pandemic. As a result, supply chain management is a growing field, and more and more MEM graduates are being recruited for these roles each year due to their understanding of both the business and manufacturing aspects of supply chain management.
Introduction to Supply Chain Management Class
While many MEM students thought Intro to Supply Chain Management sounded like an interesting and different business elective to round out their MEM curriculum, it also has proven to have significant value for the students who have taken it, as well as those who continued and took the additional Supply Chain Management Independent Study with Dr. Calvert.
Luca Mastrogiacomo, MEM senior, notes that he took the class because he had really just learned the term supply chain and was interested to learn more. Now, he will be graduating with a job as the Supply Chain Coordinator of a small specialty ice cream company, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, in Brooklyn, NY.
“I didn’t have any experience with supply chain,” said Paige Lombardi, MEM senior. “I thought it would be a fun elective, but the way Dr. Calvert taught this course, I retained more than from any other class. I can already see how it will apply to my future career.”
Liz Downey, MEM senior, agreed, “Intro to Supply Chain Management was such a great class. Even though it was about supply chain, I have been able to apply what I learned to other classes this semester.” She continued, “Learning accounting and finance is obviously important, but supply chain would be a great benefit to everyone, as well.”
While the Intro to Supply Chain Management course offered a general overview of supply chain topics, students say the course was very practical and experiential. “It was not just theory,” Lombardi said. “It was like being in a real life situation, which really made it practical and applicable, and this is probably why I retained so much of what we learned.”
“It was also great working alongside the MIS students, which made up about half of the class,” Mastrogiacomo said. “It was interesting to see the different ways students who were more focused on business thought about things like manufacturing and gave us all a lot of insights into areas we don’t know as much about. It was generally just more representative of a real work environment where you’re working with people from all kinds of educational and experience backgrounds.”
Dr. Calvert explains. “The in-class activities were designed so that the MEM students and MIS students would learn about each other’s discipline. Sometimes I had the different majors work together and other times I had them intentionally intermingle. I had several MIS students who had never taken an MEM course, and this class was their only exposure to how a manufacturing person would approach a problem.”
Independent Study Course and the Game Project Emerges
The enthusiasm of the fall 2021 Intro to Supply Chain Management course was strong enough for Professor Calvert to offer an independent study section in the spring on the same topic. Five students enrolled, three of whom were from the MEM program and two from Management and Information Science (MIS) in the School of Business.
“I really enjoyed the first class and that increased my interest in the field so I wanted to take the independent study also.” Mastrogiacomo said. “I liked that there was a lot of opportunity for problem solving and that it is very cross functional. It touches every area of a company and has a huge impact on their success or failure.”
The independent study allowed the students to explore Supply Chain Management more deeply, to apply what they learned already, and to develop new teaching methods to help future students understand how the supply chain works.
Dr. Calvert intentionally designed the course to utilize inquiry-based learning and to let them find and answer what “wonders” students have. Similar to project based learning, this style of teaching focused on exploring answers. “I have five bright students so I wanted to approach this differently and so far the inquiry-based learning model has worked,” Calvert said. “It is exciting to see students get excited about learning and have fun with the process.”
The five students, all seniors, worked together to develop a game that will reinforce supply chain concepts, such as managing risks, rewards, and complicating factors.
The game board, which is loosely based on the game of LIFE, features landing points such as Risk, Rewards, Stop, Pay Day, and Neutrals points, as well as Knowledge Checks. While nothing may happen at the Neutral squares and when landing on Knowledge Checks students will have to answer questions from the Intro to Supply Chain Management course, Risks, Pay Days, and Stop Points are all familiar challenges or rewards that could happen in any supply chain scenario.
Lombardi explains, “Along the game, you have to keep stopping and there are lots of decisions to be made along the way that ultimately affect profit. The goal is to have the biggest profit, and your pay or rewards vary based on decisions you make regarding number of workers, their education levels, contracts you’ve made, etc. There are various risks and you have a chance to reevaluate your decisions at the stop points.”
Downey, Lombardi and Mastrogiacomo all agree that supply chain management is an important course for MEM students to take and that Dr. Calvert made this a unique and engaging course that will benefit them in any career.
“People hear the word and don’t really know what is involved,” Mastrogiacomo said. “It is a little different than what most people think MEM graduates end up doing, but it really touches on a lot of the areas that they do and the concepts are important to know about.”
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? That’s one of the most commonly asked questions in interviews, and also one of the most difficult to answer – it’s all a guess, really. In the course of five years, so many things can happen; unpredictable things like global pandemics; fun things like relationships; and more predictable things, like getting that first job.
How your next five years will turn out will depend largely on which opportunities you take, your determination and your attitude,… although we all know an MEM degree doesn’t hurt either.
Recently, I decided to reach out to some MEM alumni from the class of 2017 and ask them about their experiences over the last five years – what surprised them and what advice they’d have given to themselves back on their own graduation day five years ago. Here is what they had to say:
Connie Bowman currently works at General Electric as a Lean Transformation Team Member at General Electric.
Connie could also be described as a lean supply chain specialist doing internal consulting, and she is most surprised that she is still working for General Electric since she joined GE right out of college. She isn’t surprised she is working in Lean, however, as she was drawn to this area since learning foundations in MEM classes.
If she could have given herself a piece of advice on her graduation day, it would have been, “Be confident! Take more risks. Get to know the people better! People are key. They are your network for success.”
Anand Gupta currently works at Pratt & Whitney as a Program Manager in their Geared Turbofan Program Office.
There Anand helps manage the business and technical aspects of their largest commercial engines program.
The biggest surprise for him was that he is now attending law school. He is glad he ended up in program management, but he hopes to do legal or contracts work in a business environment such as Pratt & Whitney next. He says he has no idea what he will be doing in 10 years.
If he could give himself advice on graduation day, he says he would say, ‘Be open to different opportunities, and be careful to choose an industry that speaks to you. It’s more fun coming to work if you believe in the company’s path.”
Jackson Haigis currently works at Pratt & Whitney as an Account Socialist in the Global Supply Chain organization.
He has been most surprised that he ended up in a less technical role than he ever thought he would be, but he really enjoys what he does.
If he were to give himself advice on his graduation day, he says he would tell himself, “Don’t be afraid to jump in the deep end and take on a new challenge.”
Connor Mitchell currently works at Kering as an Operations Process Engineer on the Logistics Team.
What has surprised Connor the most was working in logistics for fashion and luxury goods, after starting his career in a manufacturing heavy environment.
If he could go back and give himself advice on his graduation day, he would have told himself that “real education starts after graduation; don’t become complacent; continuously re-evaluate your own goals, and make them known to your family, friends and manager.”
Caitlyn Syrett is currently working at Pratt & Whitney in Military Engines as a Fleet Logistics Specialist.
There she is in charge of sourcing spare parts to military bases for the F135 enginer. Her position in particular focuses on supplying deployed carrier ships.
What has most surprised her was when she started at Pratt, she accepted a rotational position in their Aftermarket Operations program. By joining this rotational program, she moved three times in two yeas and lived in Connecticut, Georgia and Michigan. She says it definitely took her out of her comfort zone because she thought she would stay close to home in Connecticut. However, moving wast a great way for her to grow professionally and personally, and helped her professional network grow so much too.
Her advice to herself on her graduation day would be, “Don’t sweat the small things.” She didn’t have a job lined up coming out of school or the very best GPA, but she still got a really good job and is currently very successful. She was the first to graduate from Pratt’s, then, brand new rotational program and she has received many awards at work, including Employee of the Month for Military Engines. “It is all what you make it.”
Michael Vaghi currently works at TriVista Business Group as a Consultant.
What has most surprised him is that he never really thought he would get to work in a job that allows him to get exposure to such a variety of different industries and help solve their problems.
If he were to give himself advice on his graduation day, he would say, “be open minded about pursuing other career and job opportunities. Windows of opportunity are very short, so if any part of you thinks it’s a good fit for your growth aspirations, always make the jump.”
Evan Wexler currently works at Slalom Consulting as an Associate Consultant, Data and Analytics
What has most surprised Evan was Connecticut, he says. He has been surprised that there are so many great jobs, great companies and communities here in Connecticut, and after working in NYC for two years, he came back to Connecticut and is glad he did.
If he were to give himself advice on his graduation day, he says he would tell himself, “Don’t be afraid to try something different – if something is not enjoyable allow yourself to experiment with other opportunities to find what is right.”
The faculty who teach students in Management and Engineering for Manufacturing (MEM) come from around the world and bring with them culture, diversity, experiences and expertise – a combination that is as unique as each person. Professor Manuel Nunez does not disappoint, letting us see a glimpse into the life experiences that shaped him as an instructor and researcher at the University of Connecticut.
Professor Nunez came to UConn from the second largest city in Costa Rica, called Alajuela. He still has friends and family there that he misses, but says he also really misses the soccer. Alajuela is home to a professional soccer team, La Liga, of which Nunez says he is an avid fan.
Even while missing home, Nunez always wanted to come to the United States, even as a young child. He has always enjoyed US culture, music, values and way of life, so that made adjusting to the American way of life a little easier for him. He loves the culture, so he has always felt at home here. He says the biggest adjustment was driving in bad weather conditions in New England winters.
Nunez is a big professional sports fan in America too. His favorite teams are the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Lakers, and the New England Patriots.
For fun, Nunez likes to read, collect and play board games, collect playing card and Tarot decks and Star Trek memorabilia. He reads about two books per week and his favorite reading genre is science fiction. He is also a Star Trek fan. He also likes to read about history and general science as well. He also enjoys mental challenges as a mathematician, and he assembles scale model kits and solves various puzzles.
As a faculty member and researcher, Nunez enjoys contributing new ideas and concepts, and he especially enjoys transferring his knowledge to his students.
“It is a very fulfilling lifestyle,” Nunez says.
“As a researcher, it is very exciting to face challenging problems and try to find new solutions to those problems,” he says. “As part of this process, I learn more about new subjects and methodologies.”
He recalls as a freshmen in college himself, one of his professors told him that if he constantly wonders about how to improve things, he should study Operations Research (OR). Nunez took that idea and found he really enjoyed the mathematical aspects of OR – proving theorems, developing algorithms and creating new models of everyday situations.
Nunez teaches Computers in Manufacturing for the MEM program, Adaptive Business Intelligence (ABI) for the MS BAPM program and the Operations Management Seminar for the OPIM doctoral program.
“I have taught the computers in manufacturing class for more than 20 years and it has evolved a lot,” he says. “Students like it because it teaches them skills they can readily use in their jobs, internships and senior design projects.”
Nunez says he is not a specialist on a very narrow research field and that his work touches on many different subjects. He says he sees a promising future in studying the business implications and applications of using cutting edge technologies such as quantum computing. “Through my lifetime I have witnessed the profound effects that the arrival of new computer technologies had in business and society in general. I believe that eventually quantum computing will become more prevalent and have similar effects.”
Nunez says his favorite part of his work is interacting with people, teaching young people and seeing them transitioning into professionals, working with stimulating colleagues, and appreciating that the university is a place for open-mindedness, research and learning.
The MEM Labs, located in E11 room 102 and 106, are great places to explore, learn and engage in some hands on practice and experimentation with MEM concepts. You get your first taste of the lab with MEM 2212 and then maybe you haven’t spent much time in there again – but that’s all about to change!
The MEM Lab is getting a facelift this summer and we will be introducing lab kits with which to experiment and experience some different materials and equipment related to manufacturing, and we will be connecting more intentionally to the OPIM Innovate Lab over in the School of Business. Some of the exciting features besides a cleaner look, include a roller table, robot arm and a few other special things we are still working on.
The other very important feature of the MEM Lab is the Lab Manager. Typically, each year we hire one or two lab managers, preferably a senior, and a junior who can continue in the role the following year.
I decided to ask our last two lab managers what they thought about being the lab manager, how they got the job and how it may have impacted their ability to learn and take those skills to jobs outside UConn.
Here’s what they had to say about being Lab Manager:
How did you become the lab manager?
Logan: I applied to become a lab manager the summer going into junior year. There was a post on JobX for a MEM lab manager as well as one for the MEM 2212 UTA. I applied and got both positions for junior year.
John Henry: I became the MEM Lab Manager my junior year after hearing about the open position from the past Lab Manager, Logan Miller. I applied and went through an easy interview process and got the job.
What do you enjoy about being the lab manager?
Logan: When I was the lab manager, I enjoyed having that space available to me to do work in. I also enjoyed helping other students with using the printers and/or studying for certain classes. It was nice to represent MEM and create a welcoming environment for everybody.
John Henry: I spent a lot of time in the MEM Lab through my freshman and sophomore years and it quickly became my go-to study space. I also enjoyed MEM 2212 and working with the 3D printers. As the Lab Manager, I get to operate and make use of the space for both myself and other students who want to utilize it like I once did. Now that we are looking to make renovations, I am excited to be part of a transitional period for the lab and help make it even better.
Were there any extra benefits such as experiential learning or any transferable skills that helped you get a job?
Logan: I’d say one of the biggest transferable skills I got from being the lab manager was effective communication. At times there would be multiple students in the lab asking different things of me and I had to make sure I was answering their questions completely and clearly. But I also needed to work with many faculty members to get certain things done which taught me how to approach people higher up than me without being nervous or unclear.
John Henry: I found that the employers I talked with loved to hear about my experience as a Lab Manager. Being able to talk about working with manufacturing technologies in a lab environment as well as being a resource for other students is something they saw as valuable experience.
What would you want to share with other MEM students about pros or cons to being the lab manager?
Logan: As far as pros, you have access to the MEM lab whenever you want – it’s a great place to do work with friends or isolate instead of going to the library or staying in your dorm. It also makes you much more professional and helps you meet other people in the MEM program. If you’re passionate about the MEM program, you will also be hosting prospective students and their families during open houses.
As far as cons, it can be a serious time commitment and you need to be comfortable with how the 3D printers work, how different computer programs work, and should have a basic understanding of the different MEM courses you’ve taken so that you can provide assistance if needed. The amount of work fluctuates quite a bit – sometimes it is super busy (especially during Senior Design season) and sometimes it is extremely slow.
John Henry: The pros are that it is great pay for easy work, and it is located in E2 where MEM has many classes. Plus you can really make your own schedule, which is also very nice when planning around classes. The cons? Well, I haven’t found any downsides!
We are always looking to hire a lab manager for this year and next. If you are interested, please visit the student on campus job website, search for jobs on Storrs work study or campus jobs and select Mechanical Engineering as the Employer. The Job is listed as a Class III – Student Computer Lab Specialist – 319UST. For additional questions, please contact the Program Assistant.
It’s not unheard of for students to come from across the country or around the world to study at the University of Connecticut. It’s not uncommon for students to come these same great distances for the Management and Engineering for Manufacturing (MEM) program. However, it’s relatively rare that two youngsters who met 15 years ago in Girl Scouts in Singapore would both end up attending UConn as MEM majors from across the country and around the world.
Archana Velauthapillai and Alexa Boden, both MEM juniors, spent much of their childhood years in Singapore, attending the same school and Girl Scouts troop.
“We knew each other and did a lot of Girl Scouts activities together, but we weren’t really close at that time,” Alexa said.
They were friends, but didn’t really keep in touch when Alexa’s parents moved them to Chicago before 8th grade, and Archana’s family moved to China just a year later. They remained friends on social media, however, so when Archana saw that Alexa would be attending the University of Connecticut, she reached out to Alexa by private message in Instagram.
Archana, at the time, was living in China with her family when she decided to attend the University of Connecticut. She had assumed she would not know anyone there. Alexa, too, did not think any of her Chicago classmates would be attending a state university in Connecticut so she too had assumed she would not know anyone at UConn. So when the two women learned of each other’s plans they knew they had to meet up.
The women were both pretty surprised that they would know anyone at UConn at all, but even more surprised it would be a childhood friend from half a world away.
Alexa came to UConn planning to major in MEM as it blended the business and engineering aspects she loved of product design. Archana started off in Undecided Engineering, but within her first semester knew she wanted to change to MEM.
By the second semester of freshmen year, Archana and Alexa were registered for many of the same MEM classes and first found each other in MEM 1151, Introduction to Management and Engineering for Manufacturing.
Archana recalls, “I was new to the program and didn’t know anyone, but I walked in and saw Alexa sitting there, so I sat down right behind her.”
“We reconnected pretty fast after that class,” Alexa said, “and since then, we’ve done a lot of group projects together.”