David'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.

David's Success Story
David J. Benedict, Bachelor's of Science in Engineering, '84, and Master's of Science, Mechanical Engineering, '96.

What is your background?
I grew up in and around the Detroit area and was given the name David Jordan Benedict upon my birth at Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital in 1962. My father worked at a local auto company—Chrysler-- from before I was born. I went to public schools and was active in the band from 4th grade on. Throughout my years in school, I was always interested in how things worked and why - a natural bridge to an interest in science and math.

What were the circumstances surrounding the moment you realized you wanted to go into your chosen field of study?
I was at home at the kitchen table discussing my future with my mom and dad. They asked me what interested me. I answered that I liked science and math. Without pushing, my mom mentioned that Engineering might be a good fit. At that moment, I decided that that would be my pursuit.

Did you always think that you had what it takes to go into this line of work?
Growing up with my dad being an Engineer made that field of study seem achievable. Since I had done well in school up to that point, I believed that with hard work, I could do it.

What is so exciting about your major?
What I found to be so exciting about my chosen major was not the course work itself, but what it allowed me to do once I was out of school and working. I remember thinking after I started working at Chrysler (yes, like my father) that I couldn't believe I was getting paid as much as I was for something I enjoyed so much. And, what I enjoyed doing was solving problems! Whether it be a design problem or a problem in how to make a part, I was given access to tools and methods that put some structure to problem solving and gave me great satisfaction knowing I was contributing to the well being of the company and its employees.

What attracted you to Oakland University?
What attracted me to OU was its size and local, reputation for an excellent Engineering School notwithstanding. Before I went there, a former student and winner of the Matilda Wilson award took me and my parents around campus. From that point on, I was hooked.

Describe some of your favorite teachers at OU.
My favorite teachers Dr. Wedekind whose enthusiasm never waned and who, perhaps most importantly, taught me things about the work world that I still refer back to today such as, "always make your boss look good." Another was Dr. Barber whose class material and assignments were things that I could apply directly to my job. He was down to earth and very approachable.

Besides textbook information, what else did you learn through your experience at OU?
As I mentioned before, Dr. Wedekind's advice for the working world was invaluable. I was also fortunate enough to be in a leadership position that I think would not have been possible at a larger university. I was the head of the OU Pep Band in its early years, was able to establish it for the first time as a Student Organization, establish officers with roles and responsibilities and grow the organization from a group of around 15-20 to a group of 35 enthusiastic musicians.

Were you involved in any student organizations or extracurricular activities while at OU?
See above regarding the Pep Band. I was also the dorm Treasurer one semester and was in the OU Concert Band all four years.

What do you do for your job?
Currently, I manage a group of people at Chrysler that work in the Supplier Quality organization responsible for the operations. This includes overseeing IT systems, training, communications, facilities, events, manpower, budget, Service part quality, and interfaces with other OEMs in the auto industry.

How has your education at OU prepared you for your job?
It was almost as much the student life and leadership opportunities that I credit with preparing me for the job as much as the academic work. I was petrified before I started working after graduation-- afraid I would not know what I needed to know-- but I soon found out that my education at OU more than prepared me for my career.

Do you find that only those from the very high profile schools are the ones who excel?
Funny enough, the peers I work with that have been the most successful are NOT those from "Ivy League" or other private schools, but for the most part, are other OU grads and other Michigan and local state universities. Communication and leadership skills matter much more than the school once you get your foot in the door and OU provided me and many others that opportunity.

Would you recommend that prospective students consider OU for a degree in your chosen major?
Without question. In fact, some of the best interns we have right now at Chrysler are from OU. Being right out the back door, so to speak, makes it a natural fit.

What advice would you offer prospective students?
Grades will get you considered, but it is how you communicate and what you have demonstrated in establishing a solid work ethic and learning how to deal with others that will get you in the door and provide you the opportunity to be successful long after you receive that job offer. OU teaches you those things.

Do you have anything more you would like to add?
I am very proud of my experience at OU and already have my kids rooting for the Grizzlies. We'll see if they turn into future OU Alumni like their dad.