Sarah'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

Sarah's Success Story
Sarah Gothamy earned a Bachelor's of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering and a graduate degree in Engineering Management.

What is your background?
My name is Sarah Gothamy. I attended Oakland University for both my undergraduate and my graduate degree. I have an undergraduate degree in industrial and systems engineering and a graduate degree in engineering management. 

What were the circumstances surrounding the moment you realized you wanted to become an industrial engineer?
When I first began taking classes at Oakland University I knew I wanted to become an engineer but I did not know what kind of engineer I wanted to become. As part of the OU engineering curriculum students are required to take a course in each of the engineering disciplines that are offered at OU. Going through these courses helped me identify that I wanted to become an industrial engineer.

Did you always think that you had what it takes to go into this line of work?
Initially I did not know if I had what it took to become an industrial engineer. The first few industrial engineering courses I took focused heavily on statistical analysis and distributions. By being an engineer, I wanted to do more than just work with numbers. Throughout my courses as an industrial engineer I learned that industrial engineering is not only about statistics and distributions it is also about going and seeing the process or product and making improvements. The classes at OU gave me the tools necessary to be able to make improvements on various different projects that I have worked on.

What is so exciting about ISE?
The exciting part about being in industrial engineering is you can see the improvements that you have made. It is hard for most disciplines to be able to identify the direct correlation of the work they do and the impact it makes on the company. By being in ISE, I have the opportunity to make things more efficient by decreasing the cost of a product, time it takes to perform a process, and many other things. Whether it is a hard or soft savings the work does not go unnoticed.

What attracted you to Oakland University?
What mostly attracted me to OU is that the university is close to home. It allowed me to go to OU while still being able to live at home. The university offers a quality education at an affordable price. I know I did not want to go out of state for college and OU was ranked one of the top universities for engineering in Michigan. Going to OU allowed me to work and go to school in the same location that I lived without having to move. 

Describe some of your favorite teachers at OU.
Some of my favorite teachers at OU were the professors that prepared you for the real world. They always tried to give real world examples in class and cared about their students' education as well as where they ended up in life. Before or after class the professors would discuss with us matters related to work; how they were handling the load, what they were working on at work and how students have used what they learned in school to aid them in their careers. Professors offer suggestions and not only taught you class material but also mentored you as well. Each of my professors at OU was different and each had something to offer their students that went beyond the standard material of most universities. I could tell my professors truly cared about the success of their students.

Besides textbook information, what else did you learn through your experience at OU?
One of the most important lessons I learned while attending OU was the importance of ambiguity. The first time my professor presented this concept to the class I struggled with the importance and how I was going to use this concept after graduation. Throughout the semester, embracing ambiguity became a theme in the class. The professor would introduce many concepts throughout the semester that did not seem to be something I would use. It took me about two years before I fully understood the wisdom of what I was being taught. The concept of embracing ambiguity referred to the idea that in life you will not always receive written instructions with a due date like most professors give. You need to be able to complete assignments given verbally. If a due date is not given you need to be able to recognize that and ask for a due date. Life will not be as structured as it is in school. It is important to recognize and understand how to perform a task with little instruction. These are the kind of lessons that showed me the professors went beyond the standard curriculum to really teach their students and make sure they would be successful.

What do you do for your job?
When I first started working I was working on continuous improvement projects, lean projects. Since then I moved into the capital projects group. The engineering skills I obtained at OU allowed me to grasp concepts quickly, which allows me to work in many different areas. I currently (work at DTE and) manage a database that tracks the financial life of a capital project. In my current position I am able to develop myself by learning about cost and finance. I am also able to use my industrial engineer skills to track spending and make improvements on the forecasting process.

How has your education at OU prepared you for your job?
OU helped prepare me by giving me a well-rounded education. The basic engineering courses (EGR courses) gave me the foundation to not only tackle Industrial Engineering problems but also to be able to address basic engineering problems. Throughout my career I used my industrial engineering skills to create process improvements while in my continuous improvement position. I have used my knowledge of thermodynamics while working in the electrical power plants and have used my statistical skills while working in the capital group. I have been able to use the tools I learned at OU to move to different groups throughout the company.

Do you find that only those from the very high profile schools are the ones who excel?
I find that OU prepares their students for the working world and that they give their students a well-rounded education so they can adapt to any problem or task that is thrown their way, making them very valuable employees. The diversified education that OU has provided allows me to work in many different areas and my company has noticed this.

Would you recommend that prospective students consider OU for an ISE degree?
I would recommend prospective students consider OU for industrial engineering. ISE is a very diverse field. It allows individuals to work in many different areas such as in the utility industry, hospitals, automotive industry, and others. Companies are constantly trying to find ways to cut costs without sacrificing the quality of their product. Industrial engineers help companies cut cost which makes them valuable employees. Companies recognize the value of industrial engineers which helps to create job security.