Students graduating as industrial and manufacturing engineers from Cal Poly are not having problems finding jobs, engineering department chair Jose Macedo said.
Companies such as Raytheon and Solar Turbines look for Cal Poly students, especially in the Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department, because the students have the confidence and experience to work in a company such as theirs, Macedo said.
The students are also prepared and ready for the offers a company gives them, industrial and manufacturing engineering associate professor Lizabeth Schlemer said.
“They hit the ground running,” Schlemer said. “So that means that immediately when they get to the job, they can do the work right away, because they have so much practice in projects in school.”
Engineering students agree.
Industrial engineering senior Laura Harris said the assignments that have taught her to practice what the teachers teach and have prepared her for a career in the engineering field, she said.
From the time the industrial and manufacturing engineering students enter Cal Poly as freshmen, they are given projects which are a combination of assignments that allow them to prepare for a long-term career, Harris said. The projects include data collection that is based on improvements made to technology and information that is already there.
One assignment students might receive is the supply chain, Harris said.
The supply chain is the explanation of how things get from point A to point B. It’s anything that has to do with suppliers and customers and moving products from raw materials to finished goods, Harris said. It also includes human interaction, because to explain how things move from one place to another, the students need to speak with other people.
Harris worked as a supply chain intern for Eaton Corporation and she worked with different contracts and suppliers. She said she looked at the performances and quality that were not up to par. She took a mixture of companies, looking for new suppliers and chose the suppliers who were the most efficient.
She said students must also know how to resolve the problem that they are facing.
A project must also include operations research, which is the best solution for the problem at hand. It is like taking numbers, creating a linear program and figuring its optimal capacity, Harris said.
At E&J Gallo, she was a technical intern and had to create a solution for a loss of wine the company was experiencing.
To transfer wine from one tank to another there has to be a tube connecting the two. Once the tube was removed from a tank, wine would spill. Once the wine is put into bottles, the seal would sometimes break and wine would be lost.
Every time wine was lost, the company lost product. Harris asked questions, talked to management, looked at the computer systems herself and created comprehensive charts to help her organize and find a solution to decrease the wine loss, she said. She designed a wine loss tracking system for more than 175 million gallons of product.
Many of the projects include having to work with a real client. So in the end, when students do work for a large company they are ready and prepared because they have done it before. The students don’t just learn by the book, they do the work as well, Schlemer said.
The students learn how to handle technology and people as they collaborate with others. They are communicating, while at the simultaneously learning the machinery required in their field of study, Macedo said.
The students work in group projects creating presentations and learning teamwork at the same time. They master communication skills by being in a group project or by working with a real client, which gives them the chance to connect with a person and speak to them with confidence, Harris said.
“There are different types of people, and learning how to handle that appropriately is something I found very valuable,” Harris said. “I can now think on my feet, negotiate and talk to people so I’m not offending people and still make my point across.”
Cal Poly teaches its students by allowing them to engage in projects, hands-on senior engineering manager Todd Tsudama said.
“They know what goes into a project,” Tsudama said. “They like to get their hands dirty. They know what to do versus Berkeley students who are book-smart.”
The Cal Poly engineers have hands-on classes that allow them to work well with other people and lead groups, Tsudama said. It is what their company looks for in an employee.
Industrial and manufacturing engineering students accept the internships, which enable them to design systems for a real company and see how it can help a company save money, so their graduation rate is pretty high, Macedo said.
“It’s very bright,” he said. “We have some older grads who graduated 30 years ago and who are CEOs of big companies. So when we look at our recent undergrads I look and think they are going to be the next CEO of some big company.”
This article was written by Rosie Guzman.