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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.

Supply Chain Management Course Offered for Fall 2021

For the last several years, in the Management and Engineering for Manufacturing program, more and more of our graduates are finding jobs related to supply chain management. With the evolving nature of manufacturing and industry in the United States, it’s really no wonder.

Supply chain management is defined as the process of managing the movement of goods and services from suppliers, as raw materials, and to end users, as finished goods, in an efficient and effective way. Careers in supply chain management can take the role of sourcing, negotiating, contracting, purchasing, logistics, product design and development, inventory control, distribution and more.

The world is getting smaller, but that doesn’t mean that managing the supply chain for manufacturers is getting any easier. In fact, while the world has become more and more accessible with parts of the supply chain traveling around the world in record time, we know it is necessary to produce graduates ready to enter manufacturing in this field, and to bring with them the skills and the creativity needed to expedite the segments of production and access to supplies.

That is why, Dr. Calvert, professor in the School of Business and the co-director of MEM, is developing a course for students interested in supply chain management as a career.

“This course will examine the supply chain from a practical perspective.” Calvert said. “Class time will focus on active discussions and case analysis over the lecture format.”

The topics, including sales, materials management, logistics, and transportation, and will include real-world examples from the professor’s own professional experience.

In addition, external experts such as former MEM and School of Business students, now employed at Unilever, will discuss how supply chain management is performed at their company. Other guest lecturers in the field will include an independent consultant with more than 30-years of experience in the field.

Supply Chain Management, OPIM 4895, will be offered Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 to 12:15 pm.

Supply chain management is an exciting business and engineering field, perfect for MEM students, as well as other engineering and business students as they consider the future of manufacturing leadership in the United States.

Flyer promoting Supply Chain Management Course OPIM 4895 (Fall 2021)

Logan Miller Named 2021 MEM Top Dog

Logan Miller, a Somers, Connecticut resident and University of Connecticut senior was awarded the Management and Engineering for Manufacturing Top Dog Award for 2021 for his academic achievement as well as his participation and commitment to the MEM program.

Each year the MEM Society, co-directors and staff work together to select the student who best represents and contributes to the MEM program. This student is 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.

What does it mean to be Top Dog of MEM? Each year the MEM Society, co-directors and staff work together to select the student who best represents and contributes to the MEM program. This student is 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. This year, our 2021 Top Dog Award is going to graduating senior, Logan Miller. Logan Miller portrays all of these qualities, always representing the MEM program with enthusiasm, consideration and integrity. He has served for two years at the MEM Lab Manager, assisting students with lab questions and working hard to make sure it was a place all students felt welcome and supported. When COVID-19 struck, he coordinated and implemented lab safety plans and used the time to train next year’s lab manager, reorganize the lab and help think through ways MEM can be even better for future students. He also served as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant during his Junior Year for the MEM 2212 course, spent time studying abroad, served as the Treasurer for the MEM Society, interned at the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, achieved a high level of academic excellence, volunteered at every MEM open house where he answered questions and shared his experience with new prospects, and has been enrolled in the MS-BAPM 4+1 program. Logan Miller is certainly the 2021 MEM Top Dog! We are very proud of his accomplishments and thankful for his contributions. We know that even though Logan is going onto greater things after this May, that he will continue to contribute to the future success of MEM in meaningful ways.Miller portrays all of these qualities, having always represented the MEM program with enthusiasm, consideration and integrity. He served for two years at the MEM Lab Manager, assisting students with lab questions and working hard to make sure it was a place all students felt welcome and supported. When COVID-19 struck, he coordinated and implemented lab safety plans and used the time to train next year’s lab manager, reorganize the lab and help think through ways MEM can be even better for future students.

He also served as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant during his junior year for the MEM 2212 course, spent time studying abroad, served as the Treasurer for the MEM Society, interned at the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, achieved a high level of academic excellence, volunteered at every MEM open house where he answered questions and shared his experience with new prospects, and has been enrolled in the MS-BAPM 4+1 program.

“Logan was not only able to excel academically, but also outside of the classroom,” said Professor Craig Calvert, co-director of the MEM program and Senior Design instructor. “He has been a consistent source of assistance to the MEM program and his peers through his lab manager position and his involvement in the MEM student society. My experience with him in his senior design project shows that he will do great things in the future.”

Miller, 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, plans to go on to complete his Master of Science degree in Business Analytics and Project Management at the UConn School of Business. He began working toward the MS-BAPM program during his undergraduate studies as part of a 4+1 program with the School of Business and MEM.