Youngstown State University’s chapter of the Institute of Industrial Engineers received the Gold Award for 2014. The award is a reflection of the quality of education and opportunities available to students at the university.
YSU is one of just 36 universities in the nation to receive the award in 2014. They are one of only four in the Great Lakes region, placing them in the same category as Ohio State University, Michigan and Purdue University.
Jimmy D’Andrea served as the organization’s president last academic year. He views the award as recognition of the quality of the program at YSU.
“The industrial engineering program at YSU is smaller than all those other schools by far, but the caliber of students it produces is top notch,” D’Andrea said.
Sylvia Grdina served as vice president during the last academic year. She said she believes that the program may finally be getting more mainstream recognition.
“Our engineering program is very good. It’s very much recognized, I think,” she said. “I feel like a lot of people around the area might not know it, but amongst the engineering communities it’s known.”
YSU’s IIE chapter believes the largest factor in their recognition by the national organization was the role they played in organizing Six Sigma Green Belt certification training.
The class trains and certifies individuals in processes that can be used to improve efficiency in the industry. The certification has two tiers: green belt and the higher black belt.
“In our field, having a belt is one of the highest things you could put on your resume. It’s a very high certification,” Grdina said.
Another factor that YSU’s IIE chapter attributed to their success was their increased attendance.
Last year, the group’s attendance swelled to an unusual high, with 25 members, largely due to recruiting efforts by the chapter’s officers.
YSU’s IIE chapter’s leading members have also placed a large emphasis on nurturing younger members. As a result, the chapter hopes to remain at an elite level despite the loss of several senior members.
“A huge thing we wanted to do last year was raise our attendance and make IIE fun,” Grdina said.
Members of YSU’s IIE chapter said the organization has also gone a long way toward preparing them for employment.
“Being a part of this organization has definitely helped us obtain jobs. Sylvia and I both graduated in the spring and we both had job offers before graduation. Being members and officers of IIE helped for sure. Also the Six Sigma Green Belt certification, without a doubt, helped,” D’Andrea said.
David Macek served as secretary during the last academic year. He also said that the organization has helped to prepare him for employment and has already received an internship.
“In real industry you need to work with people all the time. You develop good social skills by being in this organization, compared to other engineers who just know numbers but don’t know how to talk to people,” Macek said.
The chapter’s members agree that the organization has taught them much about working together. They credit the hands-off approach taken by their faculty adviser, as it allowed the students to grow into leadership roles.
Martin Cala is the faculty adviser for the group and said it’s important the students have the freedom to choose the organization’s direction.
“My philosophy as a faculty adviser to a student organization is to make sure it is just that — nothing happens unless the students make it happen. I do provide awareness of the opportunities, I do provide an assessment of the relative value of them and I do provide counsel toward the success of activities taken on,” Cala said. “That said, I do leave it up to the students to prioritize activities, make good programming decisions and execute successfully.”