Bradley University’s Chapter of Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) helped reinspire their members amidst the pandemic with a presentation from Kevin Wollscheid, a Bradley alumnus who now works at SpaceX in California.
IISE is a national organization that helps advance and connect students through leadership, community and training opportunities in the fields of engineering and business.
Wollscheid was an industrial engineering major at Bradley from 2010 to 2014 and had three internships with SpaceX before being hired for a full-time position. Currently, he is a build manager at Starship build for the company.
“I think it went very well, it was very educational,” Anna Rosenberger, a senior industrial engineering major and president of IISE, said. “It was very inspiring to younger undergrads that are probably looking [to] maybe to get into aerospace industry, or else even just industrial engineers, and how they can apply it to aerospace because industrial engineering is a pretty flexible major.”
Wollscheid gave an overview of his career and his path before giving students some advice in a Q&A. He talked about having a mix of technical and soft skills in order to succeed in the engineering field.
“Gotta do those group projects,” Wollscheid said. “Maintaining professional contacts is a very important and overlooked skill.”
Wollscheid also spoke on “burnout,” and how he keeps working in a high-pressure environment.
“To stay motivated, I’ve tried to seek out work that will make this world a better place,” Wollscheid said.
Wollscheid emphasized that building a rocket that blows up while taking off or never gets off the ground is just as important, if not more important, than a rocket that works.
“Things that look like failures to the untrained eye are huge successes,” Wollscheid said.
There is no aerospace engineering major at Bradley, but Wollscheid showed Bradley students that there are more options with their majors than they may have thought.
“I wanted people to have an open mind and just [see] how you could apply an industrial engineering degree into this field,” Rosenberger said. “It gives people an idea outside of Caterpillar.”
Wollscheid reminded students that the learning process is what engineering is all about.
“I think the biggest takeaway is not to be afraid to make mistakes and just to make sure that you’re giving your input and getting a lot of hands-on experience in your undergrad education,” Rosenberger said.