Major: Mechanical Engineering, 2017
Hometown: Loves Park
High school: Harlem High School, Class of 2013
Tell us about your education background.
I went to Rock Valley College (RVC) for my first two years of college from 2013-2015, and later transferred to Northern Illinois University to complete my degree, graduating in 2017. During my years at NIU, they offered a lot of extracurricular clubs to get involved in, such as the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Becoming involved in these clubs allowed me to meet other students who had similar interests to me and to apply what I learned in the classroom to real life applications.
How has education influenced your life and career plans?
Education builds a strong foundation, and working hard now pays off in the future. A strong educational foundation opens up doors in places you would never expect and has allowed me to keep my life and career plans limitless.
Tell us about your career path, your job today and projected career in 10 years.
After my first semester at RVC, I was hired as an intern at Collins Aerospace, formally known as UTC Aerospace Systems, here in Rockford. Going to RVC and later transferring to NIU allowed me to keep my internship position all the way through college until I graduated. A few weeks after graduation, I started my career as an Associate Engineer in the Systems Engineering department, and have been here ever since. I’ve gotten to learn about our industry’s best electrical power systems, which we design and integrate for commercial, regional, business aviation and military sectors around the world. In the upcoming years, I look forward to being part of one of the world’s most innovative and successful companies as we strive to be a technology leader in the aerospace industry.
What has been a highlight in your career?
After only a few months of working as an Associate Engineer, I had the opportunity to travel to Nagoya, Japan for a program I was working on. After roughly 3 weeks of working with our customers, I gained understanding of how our products are integrated all around the world, and I also got to see another part of the world that most people are not privileged to see. The introduction to Japanese culture was an amazing experience and something I will never forget.
What has been the most challenging obstacle you faced in your career?
The most challenging obstacle I have faced in my career is being a new engineer in an extremely talented and experienced department. Most of my peers have 30-plus years of experience working in the aerospace industry. It can be intimidating at times to feel confident enough to ask questions and to not be afraid to fail. I have learned that in order to gain knowledge and confidence, you can’t be afraid to ask questions or fail.
I understand you are mentoring a student who is in the NIU Engineering @ RVC Program, earning NIU’s B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, the same degree you earned from NIU. Can you tell what you do in your role as a mentor?
I have definitely realized the value of having a mentor while working through school and now in the workplace. As a student, I was able to brainstorm ideas with my mentor, ask questions about the next career opportunities, and ask what skills I needed to learn. With mentoring a student now, I can apply some of the knowledge I have learned to guide them through similar experiences and provide a sounding board for them.
What thoughts and recommendations would you have for a student interested in earning NIU’s B.S. in Mechanical Engineering through the NIU Engineering @ RVC Program?
I would highly recommend this program. It is not only a great education, but I was able to earn an internship right after my first semester at RVC. RVC is close to many engineering companies who are desperately looking for homegrown engineers, so this program provides a lot of opportunity to engage in those companies while getting an education.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I would encourage anyone who enjoys math and science to consider engineering as a career path. It has given me a bright future, allowed me to do something I truly love to do, and to achieve the childhood dream that started way back in my dad’s garage.