Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!  As we end the fall semester 2023 and begin the winter break, I would like to extend my gratitude for the commitment of our faculty and the talented students who have chosen Management and Engineering for Manufacturing.   I wish each of you a joyful and restful holiday season and an enjoyable and safe winter break spent in the company of friends, family and loved ones, and hope everyone finds time to relax, have fun, and renew themselves for the new semester and the new year.



Cummings/Valvetrain Campus Visit October 4th

Cummings Valvetrain (formerly Jacobs Vehicle Systems) will be on campus on Wed October 4. They have open intern and co-op positions. The event is being sponsored by our ASME chapter.

When:  Wednesday, October 4, 2023 5:00 pm till 7:00 pm

Where: School of Business Room 211

See the flyer below for more details.

UConn Intern Recruitment Spring 2024

In Five Years: 2017 Graduates Reflect

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.

Connor Mitchel 2017What 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.

Caitlyn Syrett 2017There 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

Evan Wexler '17

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.”




Management, Engineering and… Marriage?

Management and Engineering for Manufacturing might be described as the marriage of Business and Engineering degrees, but every so often, it actually inspires true love.

Marino-Cooper-MEMVictoria Marino and Justin Cooper, both class of 2019, met in the fall of 2016 in MEM 2211. Justin had just recently transferred to Storrs from the Waterbury campus. He walked into his Introduction to Manufacturing Systems class, then taught by Dr. Roy and Dr. Thakur, and sat down near a mutual friend who introduced him to Victoria.

“I was excited and I wanted to meet him right away,” Victoria said. “I wanted to get to know as many people as possible so I would never have to do homework alone and would have people I knew to do group projects with. We became good friends that semester while working on group projects and having a lot of mutual friends.”

The couple didn’t start dating until the fall of the following year, however. “Well, we had one date the previous spring,” Justin said.

“Except I didn’t know it was a date,” Victoria reminded him. “He asked me to lunch, but I didn’t know he was thinking it was a date.”

“It was great though because we talked and got to know a lot more about each other that day,” Justin said.

They dated the rest of the way through college, sharing friend groups and working together. “We were even lab partners for Sensors and Data, which was great,” Justin said.

“It was great because we always tried to get in the same group for group projects and it was so nice to get to know each other as classmates and partners,” Victoria said.

“Working on projects together, seeing how we solve problems together, and how we manage stress was really good,” Victoria said. “The Industrial blower report was one of the first really difficult projects we had to work on together and Justin really eased the stress.”

“I liked to make her laugh,” he said. “And still get serious when we needed to get to work too.”

When Senior Design came around, the couple’s friends were taking bets on whether it would be their demise. Thankfully, they said, they were assigned to different projects.

“That was probably a really good thing because Senior Design was really stressful,” Victoria said.

“We never called in those bets,” Justin said glancing at Victoria.


Just a week before graduation while the couple was taking graduation pictures together in front of Castleman, Justin dropped to one knee and proposed. “It was my favorite building so it was a really romantic place to do that,” Victoria said. “I always wished I had more classes there, but now I have this memory.”

While the couple had planned to marry in May of 2021, they postponed their special day due to Covid concerns and are now planning their nuptials for April 24, 2022. “We are hoping to have an MEM banner at our wedding,” Victoria said. “The one with the old logo.”

They expect many of their MEM friends to be in attendance, including Victoria’s best friend who is also an MEM alumna and will serve as her maid of honor.

Victoria Marino currently works at Kaman Precision Products as a New Product Development Engineer and she accepted the role as MEM Industry Advisory Board member starting summer of 2021, while Justin Cooper works at a small direct-to-substrate printer manufacturer.

Industry Advisory Board Members Selected Among MEM Alums

The Management and Engineering for Manufacturing (MEM) program has recently selected two new members for its Industry Advisory Board, Adam Duong, B.S. in MEM ’16 and Victoria Marino, B.S. in MEM ’19.

The MEM program and its directors have recently decided to expand its industry advisory board members to MEM young alumni in order to gain a valuable perspective from recent graduates who are familiar with the program from the inside, how it prepares its students for careers in various fields, and ways the program might be strengthened. Duong and Marino will be the first two MEM alumni to join the board of manufacturing professionals from across the state of Connecticut.

Duong, is currently employed by Pfizer as a Digital Client Partner / Experience Designer for the pharmaceutical giant’s Global Operations move to Hudson Yards in Manhattan. He is working on planning space and emerging technologies. Previously, prior to his 2016 graduation date, he also worked for Pfizer as an Analyst and for Southern Tide as a Brand Ambassador.

Duong says, “The MEM program is a rigorous and dynamic curriculum that balances both the business and the technical which is invaluable in today’s climate, because the ideal leader today balances both.” He goes on to say how pleased he is to be joining the advisory board and to “bring a cross-industry, cross-disciplinary perspective on how the program can best cultivate well rounded individuals.”

Victoria-MarinoMarino, is currently employed by Kaman Precision Products as a New Product Development Engineer. She has also served as a Leadership Development with the company, rotating through various areas within the company, such as Sustaining Engineering, New Product Development and Program Management. Prior to her 2019 graduation date, she also worked for Wireless Zone as a Supply Chain Purchasing Intern and for Legrand North America as a Quality Assurance Intern.

Marino says she is excited to bring a young professional’s perspective to the Industry Advisory Board. “I greatly enjoyed my experience in the MEM program. The diverse coursework and strong student-alumni network greatly prepared me to enter the manufacturing workforce. Having started my career in a multi-department rotation program, I was able to be a valuable contributor in each role I explored.”

The first meeting of the board for the 2021-2022 academic year is scheduled to take place in August 2021.

Q&A With Natiya Washer – 2021 Grad Hired by Senior Design Sponsor

“I got to interact with the assembly line workers all the time. That was a really great way for me to display my set of skills of working with people that streamlined me into this engineering job, where my primary function is working with assembly line workers in the company. So, it was a direct transferable set of skills that I was able to showcase during the senior design project…”

Hi Natiya and Congratulations! I was so happy Professor Calvert shared with me that you were hired by your Senior Design Team sponsor! Wow! Can you tell me about that?

Natiya: The company I got hired into is called Prysmian Group. They’re based in the Willimantic area and my senior design project was really unique in that I got to go onsite even during the pandemic. We took all the necessary precautions to do that, of course, but that meant that I really got to meet all of the sponsors and the workers face to face about every 2 weeks and it really helped build my relationship with them. When I heard that there was a job opening, I asked about it and I was actually able to skip a couple of interviews. It really helped streamline me into the interview process and ultimately get the job.

That’s fantastic! So did your other teammates go over with you as well?

Natiya: Yes, we went over as a team and actually, in the 2nd semester, one of the workers at Prysmian was just asking us out of curiosity, “what are your plans after college?” My two teammates had other plans outside of looking for jobs, but in that moment, I was like, “oh, I’m looking for a job! Do you have any postings?” And he’s like “yeah. Here’s a link. You can all look at it if you’d like.”

That’s great. It shows that there was some dialogue going on between you, the team, and the company and that there’s sort of an almost nurturing aspect. How did you feel about the relationship building process?

Natiya: On the senior design project, the relationship building process was really fantastic. It was nice from the very beginning. We set up a very open dialogue between our sponsors and our team and so it meant it was very relaxing and not nerve wracking to email them any questions or just having constant line of communication. So it was nice to have the setting where I was able to talk to the professionals in the field without having a lot of that nervousness if I went up to them during a career day or anything like that. It was just since I already was in a project with them it made it a lot more relaxing and I was able to talk to them more on a personal level than a high stress level.

Do you feel like there was anything specific about your senior design project that made you a natural fit for the job?

Natiya: My senior design project specifically was helping redesign parts of this assembly line at their company which meant that I got to interact with the assembly line workers all the time. That was a really great way for me to display my set of skills of working with people that streamlined me into this engineering job, where my primary function is working with assembly line workers in the company. So, it was a direct transferable set of skills that I was able to showcase during the senior design project which was why, when I went in for the interview, so many of the workers, already knew that I was fit for that aspect of the job. I just had to prove it to all the other people that were interviewing me. So, that was very nice.

That’s great. During the interview process, aside from being able to skip the steps and having them already know you, do you feel like it made you more at ease? Or do you feel like it gave you a leg up in any way?

Natiya: I think I got a leg up because during the interview process, there were some people who reached out to me who were my senior design sponsors and they said, normally I would be in this interview right now, but you’ve already convinced me so, I won’t sit in on the interview, but here’s some other people you haven’t met yet. And when I would call into those, it’d be like, “Hi, Natiya, we’ve heard so much about you. We’ve heard such good things. We’re just hoping to clarify some points or just have you elaborate on other ones,” so it was really nice to not be working off an empty slate. I kind of already had this reputation built for me that was very positive so, it was really more them validating and asking about some of this past experiences I had with the company already and then using that as a stepping point to go back into my previous internship experiences and resume bullet points.

Will your job will be a continuation of your senior design project in some way or is it a completely separate thing?

Natiya: So I’m getting hired in as a process engineer, and the job I’m hiring into is not a continuation of my senior design project. I’m actually working on a different part of the facility, but I’ll still be using the same skills that I use on the same design project, which is really cool.

So when do you start?

Natiya: My official start date is June 17th, but I’ve actually been lucky enough that they wanted me to come in so we’ve actually started a part time agreement where I can work anywhere between 4 to 16 hours every week to just shadow all my other process engineering coworkers – ultimately, just get more comfortable with the plant. On June 17th, I can hit the ground running and we’ve already done all my onboarding. I’ve already met everyone in the entire plant, and so I just jump right into full on projects. I have been extremely thankful that they offered the part time position to me because again, it makes it so much less stressful because I’ve had so much time to really ease in right now while the expectation is only for me to shadow. So, it’s a really great way to see exactly what I’m doing before I have to hit the ground running.

Wow! What a great opportunity! Did you have any different kinds of jobs in mind before being offered this, or did it change during your senior design project or at some other point?

Natiya: I’ve always been really open minded about what field I wanted to go work in. Prysmian manufactures cables, which sometimes people might think that’s not as stimulating as working in aerospace or working on assembling fighter jets, but for me, I’m really passionate about process flow, and process flow can be found in any industry and in any factory. So, once I was able to go in and see the factory and get a feel of the culture and what they were doing there, and just meeting all the management and even the people working on the floor, I realized that the company’s values aligned with my own and that’s why I was really excited about interviewing with them because they had all the processes I was interested in and a great company culture. And what more can you ask for.