The journey that leads to any success story starts with a strong inner drive to be the best you can be. Reuneshia Williams, a graduate student in UMBC's Engineering Management program, has that kind of drive and determination. She made it very clear in this conversation how important she believes it is for people to keep their focus on becoming an expert in their chosen field.
Tune into this episode and be prepared to be inspired!
To learn more about UMBC's Master's program in Engineering Management: https://professionalprograms.umbc.edu/engineering-management/
Dennise Cardona 0:00
Welcome to this episode of UMBC's Mic'd Up podcast. My name is Dennise Cardona from the Office of Professional Programs and I am here with Reuneshia Williams. She is a current student in our engineering management graduate program. And I am so excited to talk with her. Today we're going to talk about engineering what got her into it, and where she is today because she's got a really great story about an outcome that she has gained and experience from being part of this program. Welcome to UMBC MIc'd Up podcast, Reunishia.
Reuneshia Williams 0:34
hello. How are you today?
Dennise Cardona 0:36
Fantastic. It's so wonderful to be here with you. I want to jump right into my first question. If you could just tell me a little bit about yourself in terms of your professional endeavors and your the educational journey that took you to UMBC.
Reuneshia Williams 0:51
Okay, so I'm originally from Philadelphia, I went to undergrad and Lancaster, Pennsylvania Millersville University where I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Applied Engineering and Technology Management with a focus on safety. So starting my career path and starting my education journey, I wanted to make a difference and have impact. And the best way to do that, as engineers, you know, being an engineer, you're a problem solver. If Through my internship experience, I gained a lot of first hand knowledge of like, Navy ships, I was working on switchboards, I was on a lot of things that I saw direct impact. So then when I started to learn more about safety, I was like, wow, as an engineer, you imagine all these things, but you don't necessarily think about the people that make your dreams come to life, or make your ideas, you know, tangible. So I took up a memory safety mail with safety, I was I was a natural, it came very naturally. And I kinda went into a career path into safety. So I was working as a health safety and environmental supervisor, straight from undergrad. And I realized that this is managing a lot of people, and not more so processes, not the work, which was a shock to me. And I was like, that's not what I really want to do. I want to manage the people I met, I want to manage the process, I want to work with the technology, not necessarily the people. So that's when I started my journey at UMBC. Getting our masters like, you know, I focus on engineering management, it'll teach me more about processes and how to almost shift safety's a great foundation, everyone, I say every engineer should have some strong background and safety because you will need it. And then I made that shift here. And I've been given the tools to look for what is right for me, and how to find more of a role that's ideal for what I'm looking for. So that's how I got to UBC as well as to meet the education mandate for my PMP because either you've been in the industry six, seven years, or you have a master's degree. So I like to work smarter, not harder, and it was easy to get the master's degree.
Dennise Cardona 3:16
Wow, what a great story. What a great pathway. And I love that you're into engineering. It's empowering. As for myself as a woman to hear other talk about technology like that, and the passion that you have for it, where did this passion start when you were younger, like where where did this passion for systems and processes take place.
Reuneshia Williams 3:38
The start of me loving engineering is very interesting. So as a child, I, I don't say break things, but I used to love taking things apart. And my mom would be very upset when I took something apart and I couldn't put it back together. So starting around eight or seven or eight I will always take things apart and I'll be so upset and actually get in trouble for it and I can't afford to get in trouble anymore. I was losing whole summers being a punishment because I was breaking too many things. Um, so then I started learning how to put things back together in the My mom put me in a program at Villanova University when I was in normally it's a high school program, but she talks it and I right there and was explaining like my daughter loves taking things apart like she needs to be in something. So I started the program earlier. In eighth grade. It's called vested. It's a village over program that are for inner city children who come pick you up in a teach about engineering on a weekends. So every Saturday I would go to Villanova University and participate in different programs. I built the underwater ROV while I was there any world problems that we were having, at that time, Villanova downscaled the problem and helped us try to solve it. It was really a great program that I credit a lot of my experience Do an interest.
Dennise Cardona 5:01
That is really, really cool. Did you have like, was there something? What are your favorite things that you took apart and put back together again, that sticks out in your head as like that proud moment that you were able to fix something you're like, Yeah, that's what I did.
Reuneshia Williams 5:16
Wow. Something I did wasn't able to fix, but I was able to take apart. Well, my mom was getting a new stove, and the old stove was just like in the basement. I started taking it apart, taking the oven door off, taken all of the oven stuff out. My mom was so upset, cuz she was like, it's a metric. I'm like, but it's not plugged in. It's not working. She's like, Oh, my God, like nobody was supposed to come pick this up. But that was one of the best ones like taking a stone getting all in the silver part. Because I was also small then. So like, my brother would like to then play hide and seek and I'll like try to hide enough of him because there's nothing in it. So it was like, I would just try like squeeze in here. Take that
Dennise Cardona 5:57
door off. And yeah. But it I would imagine that's very satisfying to be able to learn how things actually work. When I tinker with things. That's how I learn how it works. It's like, oh, okay, so just the other day I took I took apart my hair clippers, because I cut my husband's here. And my my hair clippers needs to be replaced. And it's like taking that apart. You see, you see stuff you like, wow. Okay, that's how that works and mechanics of it's pretty cool. And just having that little bit of understanding empowers the person, I think. And you also maybe start to not feel so afraid to take things apart? Because it's more of a curiosity thing at that point. And I think there's options, right? It's a lot of confidence building. And there's a lot of there's a lot to be said about taking that those small risks because it's, it's in those small risks like taking apart slippers or, well, in your case, a stove, taking that apart, and being able to figure out, just use your curiosity and dig into that and figure out how things work. So in terms of choosing UMBC, and the engineering, the entitlement program, how did you discover the engineering management program? And a two part question to that is what made you choose that program.
Reuneshia Williams 7:14
So I did some research I was looking at so since I was new to Maryland, I was like, oh, I want to go to school close to where I'm currently residing. So I was looking at, you know, different programs here and other universities. And what stuck out to me was the statements, alumni statements, and new students statements, a lot of people had a lot of things to say about community involvement, feeling like they are, you know, truly cared about, it's not necessarily just going to school, you know, and I am big on that I'm big on. I'm not a statistic in a classroom, I'm not just the body in the classroom, that there's more to me, my professors want to dive and get to know me on a personal level, as well as to help me you know, like, we're all there to grow. And looking at a lot of the alumni statements and students statements, it made me feel that community community bond. And that was very important to me with choosing a program, as well as its accredited program, it's a very nice program to be a part of
Dennise Cardona 8:25
what challenged or maybe surprised you, once you started in the program. I love the
Reuneshia Williams 8:29
fact that all of my professors are still professionals. None of my professors so far is just a professor, they also are working professionals, which is extremely important. When you're teaching about a subject that's constantly changing. Unless you're in the industry, you don't know the industry. And that happens a lot of times in a lot of different programs where you'll have a teacher that's been out of the industry for 10 years. So the things that he's teaching is by textbook, which doesn't necessarily apply in the real world. So a lot of my all my dresses I have so far still professionals working in industry. And they bring insight that the other universities that other professors cannot do if I'm going to work in a certain industry, my professors in the industry right now, he can tell me exactly what's going on and how to apply the things we're learning in the classroom into that industry. And one of my classes that resonated with me the most is Professor Charles teach this class, I think is EMG 652. Don't quote me, but Professor Charles teach this class and at the time Professor Charles health was not the best he was going through a lot. But you would have never been able to know that through the way he was teaching in the way he trimmed the classroom. The case studies that he had us going through it made you think on a deep intellectual level. challenge you, as a person in a major grow as an individual as well as a professional.
Dennise Cardona 10:06
That's really what I want to teach and inspire you that way. And there's something to be said about instructors who are out there in the field rolling up their sleeves doing the work, it's learning from them, you just feel like you've got this wealth of knowledge coming at you. And it's, you're seeing it applied through their experiences. And I'm assuming if you bring experiences to them that you have questions on, they have that experience to be able to answer the answer those questions in a really thoughtful way. What disappear engagement in the classroom look like? Do you learn from your peers? Like is it collaborative.
Reuneshia Williams 10:44
So for my particular program, we have a lot of students from all over the world, I've classmates that currently live in India, you know, Europe, everywhere, we're tuning in from all over the world to go to UMBC. Now, sometimes I know if I, it's difficult for some of my classmates to engage because class at night here is 4am, or 3am. And their timezone, you know, so engaging, sometimes it's difficult, but I am the kind of person who understands that we all have something to offer. So I always go above and beyond to communicate with my classmates take time to meet outside of the you know, classroom time, because you don't get to know people on an interpersonal level, when, you know, we're all tuned in from via zoom and different time zones. And we're trying to learn this one particular subject. So I always make sure I take the time out, to meet my classmates, talk to my classmates, we normally have like a WhatsApp group chat going on for the class and everyone to like, engage there. And you'll notice you'll get more out of your peers. When we engage separately off of necessarily like Blackboard or in the classroom, we were still engaging in still able to learn from each other. And then even like, standards are different. Because you're in a different location, the standards and requirements are very, very different. So when we talk about those things in the classroom, we get to engage and learn about each other and understand why oh, why did you respond to this question this way? Well, here where I'm from, these are the regulations. This is what's allowed. Oh, wow, here's a little different. This is why I responded to this question that way. It's really cool.
Dennise Cardona 12:27
To get that worldly view. It's really amazing. It's really enriching and powerful. Can you talk about your current role? So you're a graduate student? I believe you also work right. So if you can talk about what your experiences outside the classroom?
Reuneshia Williams 12:43
Yes, so one of the cool things last spring semester, I met one of my professors, Dr. John, and I just expressed to him the things he's doing professionally, as well as a professor are amazing. His professional resume is the resume that anyone will want. Honestly, after looking over his resume, and how amazing it is, I aspire for my credentials to look that way. So I chose to meet with him and just express some of the things are feeling a part of unfulfillment and wanting to shift my career focus, and want to do more of what we're learning in the classroom, you know, so in that meeting, we were able to talk he gave me a couple of strategies to apply to my professional world in some tools to further myself along to be more appealing to prospective jobs. After doing the things he told me to do. And following his advice, I was able to land a senior project engineering role at Project Pharma. So it's like big pharmaceutical. Now the company I'm working for works on cures and medicines for children. So a lot of children sometimes are diagnosed with something called SMA is some it's one of the deadliest killers of children under the age of five. So with that being said, I have purpose, the things I do matter. In this role. I do a lot of validation. I do a lot of processes. I'm looking at a lot of requirements. I'm governed by the FDA. So a lot of the things that I'm doing now directly affect people. It's gene and cell therapy, and I can put a face to the medicine, I can put a face to the person I'm directly impacting, which means a lot to me.
Dennise Cardona 14:44
That is amazing. To be able to do work that matters. I would imagine I could hear it in your voice to that, that that just thankfulness and gratitude to have landed in a role like that to make a true difference in the world. Can you talk about how The program so far has helped you in this new role that you're in how have you taken things that you've learned in the classroom? And been able to apply it directly to what you're doing in this new role?
Reuneshia Williams 15:14
Yes. So a lot of I'm dealing with customers and the clients, I'm dealing with managers, and Elon, other projects. And a lot of our program talks about culture, culture, understanding the team culture under how to how to be a good manager, and how to be a good leader without necessarily having the role, or the title that goes along with it role. A lot of things we learned in the class about how do you build trust in virtual teams? Because a lot of the times I'm working with people that are 1000 miles away, some people are my team is California, Colorado, Texas, North Carolina, how am I able to build trust on this team, because that's the only way we're able to progress. This program has given me the tools to connect with any team that I'm on, in yield amazing results. Honestly, like, the things we talked about in class, just laying the foundation, the little things you can do, just like keeping your word overly communicating, making sure you have open forms of communication where people can reach you, making sure that you're an expert, you're an expert in your field, and how to become the and that's one of the major things that I take away from this program and make sure I'm always working on making sure I'm an expert in how to hone that talent.
Dennise Cardona 16:38
Wow, that was a really powerful statement. And I am so happy for you, I really am. This is the kind of outcome that we want for all of our students. And it surely shows that you've applied yourself. And as a result of that, you've gained a great experience and opportunity. And that's fantastic. Do you have anything else that you'd like to add that I have not asked you today that you think would lend value to this conversation?
Reuneshia Williams 17:07
Yes. I just want to add that a lot of times people don't understand how valuable their professors are, and how our professors are there to serve us and help us along. Reach out to them. Don't be afraid most students only reach out about grades. I personally reach out to my professors about their personal life. How are they, you know, asking How's their professional life going? Because a lot of our professors are still working. So they're going through a lot of the same experience, make that connection talk to them, they're, you know, they're professional, just like you they're just teaching you something. Making that connection for me has excelled my graduate experience so much because I have multiple professors that I can reach out to on any level and to say, Hey, I'm struggling with this professionally. Is there a way you can provide some guidance? Never be afraid to reach out to your professors, they're there to help. They're also great. Like, all you have to do is just make the connection.
Dennise Cardona 18:12
Great advice. Really great advice. Well, this has been a wonderful conversation Manisha. I'm so happy that you are here with us today to talk about your experience. It's really, really exciting to hear. Thank you so much for being here with us.
Reuneshia Williams 18:25
Thank you for having me. I appreciate any insight that I can provide for other students because it was given to me
Transcribed by https://otter.ai