Malek's Success Story

There are a multitude of reasons why a person chooses to attend a particular university. Reasons to attend OU's School of Engineering and Computer Science are as numerous as the students themselves. Each month the SECS will feature a new "Student Success" story on our homepage. Be sure to check back often to see the new featured student or alumni and read why they chose SECS.

Malek Jaradi
Malek Jaradi, Electrical Engineering, '17

What is your background?
My name is Malek. I grew up in Macomb, MI and attended Eisenhower High School. I graduated Oakland University in just three years and attained the highest honors. I have two siblings: one older brother and one younger sister. My parents are both immigrants from Lebanon. My dad works at Ford in the Advanced Research Department. My mom is a teacher and is just about to receive her Ph.D. from The University of Michigan. I’ve always had those two to look up to, along with plenty of mentors throughout my professional life.

What were the circumstances surrounding the moment when you realized you wanted to go into your chosen field of study? 
A major factor in choosing Engineering was seeing all of the latest technologies developing. I knew I wanted to go into Engineering solely for the tech and partially because I have a weird attraction to Math- I like that there is one answer to every problem, for the most part. After entering OU, I took all of the beginning engineering classes that Oakland sets a requirement for. These classes allowed me to divulge in all areas of Engineering. Although I enjoyed all of the classes, the Electrical Engineering courses seemed to have more capability in terms of difficulty, so I chose Electrical Engineering. It may sound like I picked the major just because it’s hard, but I promise you that’s only a quarter of it. Most of the advancements made in engineering today involve Electronics, so I knew this is where I had to be.

Did you always think that you had what it takes to go into this line of work?
This is one of my favorite questions because the answer is no. I didn’t do so well when I began high school. It was when I realized that life is about more than just video games and hanging out with friends that I changed into who I am today. I always advise people to take school more seriously before deciding that it just isn’t for them. If I can get to this point, anyone can.

What is so exciting about your major?
The best thing about engineering is that you are on the forefront of all technological advancements. Electrical engineering is, I would say, at the very front. I really enjoy the moments where people ask what I’m working on and I can’t tell them since it hasn’t been done before. I also tell people that engineering is where the jobs are. Of course, there are jobs everywhere, but not many of them give you a fun and challenging experience such as engineering.

What attracted you to Oakland University?
Location, scholarship, class size, the Dean, Chick-Fil-A... I could go on forever. I can’t lie; I had my doubts in the beginning. These doubts were based on what I had heard from other people who didn’t even attend OU. When I started, I instantly saw they were wrong. Name another school where you can go to class, have every professor know your name, and still go to work at a prestigious company later in the day- I’ll wait.

Describe some of your favorite teachers at OU.
If I could list all of the professors I’ve had, I would. I had such a great experience here at Oakland. I can honestly say I did not use “Rate My Professor” even once. I would like to spotlight a few professors that are making a huge impact at Oakland: Jia Li, Osamah Rawashdeh, and Khalid Mirza. Dr. Li has always been one of my motivators at Oakland. It was through her that I was able to strive for more than just the classroom experience, but learn more about the field in the real world. Dr. Rawashdeh is one of the most intelligent people I have ever encountered. I am glad he was the professor for the Sophomore Design Class in which you collaborate with all majors and create a project. His passion was reflected onto the students, and you can just ask anyone at OU what I mean by that. Dr. Mirza is definitely the most aware professor at Oakland. He is very aware of what is going on in the real world, and he always teaches based on this. His robotics courses are exactly what the industry needs, and not what it needed ~10 years ago as some classes teach.

Besides textbook information, what else did you learn through your experience at OU?
I learned how to collaborate, how to communicate, and how to perform. The classes always offered up challenges which allowed me to explore my full capabilities as a student and person. I can’t stress enough how important it is to excel in your classes and become known by your professors. They will open your eyes to a much more advanced part of the field and inspire you to do more.

What do you do for your job?
I am one of fifteen employees in the company to ever enter a program called the DRIVE program. This program sends me all around the world to work for different locations and job functions. Participants in the 24-month program are given the opportunity to gain global insight into the specific work fields and structures of Continental’s automotive divisions. Once assigned to a particular division, they’re sent to one of several sites worldwide where they gain further knowledge about everything from manufacturing and production to engineering and research and development. I will be traveling to Germany and Mexico.

How has your education at OU prepared you for your job?
My education at Oakland University has prepared me more than anyone could believe. Not only have the classes prepared me for my heavy technical responsibilities, but also the soft skills I’ll need when I’m in other countries. The diversity of the students and the professors also enabled me to learn the effective approaches in interacting with different cultures. My experience at OU has been amazing, to say the least.

Do you find that only those from the very high profile schools are the ones who excel?
This is another one of my favorite questions. If you were to ask my friends what my goal is, they’ll say it’s to prove that the school you go to doesn’t matter- it’s the person that you are. If you excel at any school, you will excel in the real world. It’s a challenging thing to work towards an unknown future, with only a number (grade) giving you a reward along the way. The unknown future is that grey area of whether you will actually find a job. I always tell people that if they can excel in advancing towards this unknown future, they will advance even further when the future is known.

Would you recommend that prospective students consider OU for a degree in your chosen major?
If anyone were to ask, I would refer them to learn more about me and the DRIVE program. I believe that Oakland helped me become selected a lot more than any other school would. This is because I wasn’t selected for the name of the school, but the courses and expertise I learned while attending. I believe that the student to professor relationship is key in building one’s future. This is a relationship which is hard to get at other schools. The courses here are designed to show you all aspects of engineering and help you decide on what major you want. At other schools, it’s almost like they want you to be indecisive so they can profit off of you.

What advice would you offer prospective students?
If I could become an ambassador for Oakland, I would. I only have great things to say about the school. I will advise everyone to be confident in themselves and know that they don’t need a big name behind them to achieve. What they do need is to excel greatly in whichever field they are entering, and let their achievements speak for themselves.