Engineered for success: Faculty guidance led Chelsea Szpond to chosen career
She grabbed a house blend coffee from the bookstore. Attended three classes. Met up with friends. Ordered an Avocado Veggie Tweener at Picasso’s in the University Center. And, at 9 p.m., she got into her 2009 black Ford Fusion and drove off campus.
“I was a completely different person when I first stepped on this campus. But because of my professors, my advisers and the friends I’ve made here, I’m more confident, know what I want to do, and I’m ready for the future,” said Szpond, a fall 2015 graduate from the College of Engineering and Computer Science. “Coming here was the best decision I’ve made.”
The industrial and systems engineering major, who recently accepted a full-time job as an associate industrial engineer at DTE Energy, said she enjoyed math and science in high school, but was “engineering-undecided” when she started on campus. Then, she took Professor Swatantra Kachhal’s “Introduction to Engineering” course.
“Before the class, I hadn’t really known about industrial engineering,” said Szpond, an Alpha Pi Mu Honor Society past president and Society of Women Engineers member. “When I learned it was a combination of physical science and social science, I knew it was the right major for me. I wanted to work with people and apply my favorite subjects, math and science.”
And she said the right major had wonderful faculty to assist her on her educational journey.
“I love UM-Dearborn because of the personal relationships I’ve been able to build. Not just with one or two professors, but pretty much every professor that I’ve had,” she said. “They have all impacted me so much. My time here went beyond just understanding data, which is the focus of many classes. My professors, through projects I’ve done, helped me learn how to obtain and apply the data. They wanted to make sure I knew how to use what I was learning.”
Szpond said she was accepted to many colleges — including U-M Ann Arbor, Wayne State University and Michigan State University—but knew this was the campus for her.
“I felt this was the right place for me when I was 18, and I’m even more sure of that now. I’ve loved my time here. I’m going to miss the people, this place,” she said. “I want to thank all my professors and advisers for helping me get to where I am today.”