University of Wisconsin Madison College of Engineering
You are here:
  1. MSEP Home > 
  2. Alumni > 
  3. Profiles

 

Kevin K. O'Neill ('05)
Chris Roepe ('04)
Sushanta Sahu ('04)
Charlene Yauch ('00)
Andreas Nitzsche ('98)
Pat Galecki ('95)
Mike Molnar ('87)

 

Kevin K. O'Neill ('05)
Vice President of Operations • Weir Minerals North America, Hazleton, PA

 

I chose the MSE program because I was looking for more than a typical MBA. I wanted to customize my degree with what I felt were the right topics that applied to current manufacturing, supply-chain, and inventory issues. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised with good exposure in cost and financial accounting as well. No question, the MSE curriculum offered me the flexibility to build a degree from courses I felt gave me the best experience. In fact, there was not one course I could have done without.

 

The MSE program gave me a solid Master's Degree background that applied to my current field of work in a make-to-order manufacturing business. After completing my coursework and thesis, I was able to walk into any business and quickly understand the manufacturing process and decision-making, offer valuable recommendations, and take action. If you think about joining the program, this would be my assessment: The MSE program will allow you a flexible plan to select the course work that fits your focus. It also links students up with industry projects – sometimes in cooperation with the QRM Center – that are of the caliber of business problems assigned to employees working in industry.

 

The MSE program gave me a solid Master's Degree background that applied to my current field of work in a make-to-order manufacturing business. After completing my coursework and thesis, I was able to walk into any business and quickly understand the manufacturing process and decision-making, offer valuable recommendations, and take action.

 

Kevin is VP of Operations at Weir Minerals North America, a make-to-order industrial slurry-pump manufacturer in Hazleton, PA. He is responsible for all operations in Hazleton with annual output for 2008 at approximately $36M, and champion for continuous improvement activities in the Minerals Division.

 

Chris Roepe ('04)
Manager, Global Supplier Agility Program and Supply Chain • Motorola, Arlington Heights, IL

 

Manufacturing Systems Engineering – to some it may sound like an old-school, down and dirty manufacturing program but it could not be farther from the truth. In some ways it is actually very "hi-tech" and it provides a combined business and engineering education that is hard to get anywhere else.

 

I was attracted to the program by the opportunity to learn about the entire supply chain and focus on business classes at the same time. Half of my classes were actually in Grainger instead of the Engineering building. During my time in the MSE program, I focused on how a company works, what drives the entrepreneurial spirit and how to improve the mechanisms that drive all processes (Quick Response Manufacturing being one of them). When talking to business colleagues, I describe the MSE program as supply chain based with focuses in many areas.

 

This flexible approach is exactly why I would recommend the program. The name Manufacturing System Engineering doesn't really do it justice. It is one of the few programs where you can get a hybrid of an engineering degree and an MBA at the same time. I think the MSE program gives you the flexibility to turn the dials and make it as technology and engineering focused or fundamentally business focused as you see fit.

 

Manufacturing Systems Engineering – to some it may sound like an old-school, down and dirty manufacturing program but it could not be farther from the truth I worked for Professor Rajan Suri during my two years in the program teaching classes on lead time reduction (QRM) and manufacturing basics. Rajan’s discipline and system thinking shaped my thought process to look at problems and real world – yes, real world – situations from different perspective. A seemingly daunting and complex environment can be simplified and improved quickly using the principles taught in QRM and the complimentary classes in the MSE curriculum.

 

Using these skills, I created a Global Supplier Agility program at Motorola. We tackled the top suppliers in our supply chain and our excess and obsolescence, flexibility and agility improvements were quite impressive. The curriculum and professors in the MSE program made this possible.

 

Chris oversees all aspects of Motorola's "Rapid Transformation" Global Supplier Agility program. He is in charge of strategy and execution, with specific responsibility for measurement systems to track category management within $36 billion supply chain.

 

Sushanta Sahu ('04)
Manager, Manufacturing Systems and Supply Chain • RIG Solutions, National Oilwell Varco, Houston, TX

 

While doing my masters in Industrial Engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, I felt something missing from my study experience. I was involved in interesting research on manufacturing processes, but most of it was done in labs. I had no idea what real world problems companies face. I was hesitating to call myself an Industrial/Manufacturing Engineer since the practical side of the industry was a mystery to me. I wanted to take a step back and look at manufacturing from a systems point of view.

 

That’s when I started my hunt for a program that could take me towards my goals. After a careful selection process I zeroed in on the MSE program at UW-Madison. In retrospect, I think it was a very good decision. I not only got the systems perspective on manufacturing, but interacted and worked with many companies while in the program.

 

sushanta_sahu To someone who is interested in a manufacturing systems program [...], I would say that this decision is a no-brainer: The MSE program at UW-Madison will give you more than what you could ask for! What I liked best about the program was that it had a broad framework and gave me the flexibility to focus on the areas that I wanted to. The capstone course is probably the single most valuable course that I have ever enrolled in - not just because of the content but because of work in teams comprised of a diverse group of individuals all working towards the same goal. The lessons I learnt during this course, individually and as a member of a team, have helped me tremendously in my career so far.

 

To someone who is interested in a manufacturing systems program but is undecided what school to go to, I would say that this decision is a no-brainer: The MSE program at UW-Madison will give you more than what you could ask for!

 

After finishing his Ph.D. at UW-Madison, Sushanta joined National Oilwell Varco where he is working with domestic and overseas facilities to analyze their manufacturing systems; proposes efficiency, throughput, and lead time improvement initiatives, and follow through with implementation.

 

Charlene Yauch ('00)
Associate Professor, Industrial Engineering Program • Milwaukee School of Engineering 

 

While pursuing a Ph.D. degree in Industrial Engineering at UW-Madison, I heard about MSE and decided to take a closer look at the program. It turned out to be a perfect match for my interests in manufacturing systems and human factors.

 

The MSE curriculum was flexible, challenging and hands-on – an excellent addition for starting my academic career. Working on real-world company projects as part of the capstone course and through the Center for Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) gave me a good understanding of the problems and opportunities in American manufacturing companies. The exposure to Quick Response Manufacturing principles has had a lasting impact on my career, shaping my commitment to find innovative solutions for manufacturing challenges.

 

The combination of MSE and QRM has influenced my thinking and still plays a big part in my teaching. I believe an MSE degree is an excellent starting point for a fulfilling career, giving students the tools to find and implement solutions for today's economic challenges. I decided to become a professor in order to engage young people on subjects related to manufacturing, to continue researching new and better ways to improve manufacturing systems and ultimately, to help build a better future for American manufacturing. Unfortunately, manufacturing is sometimes wrongly portrayed as a dying sector, one that can be outsourced and relegated to other countries. In my work, I try to show and teach students about manufacturing’s significant impact on our society and how they can make a big difference in this critical field. Ultimately, I would like to see the U.S. be more competitive, and from my experience with MSE and QRM, I know that there are ways to get there.

 

The combination of MSE and QRM has influenced my thinking and still plays a big part in my teaching. I believe an MSE degree is an excellent starting point for a fulfilling career, giving students the tools to find and implement solutions for today's economic challenges.

 

Charlene teaches a variety of courses at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, including contemporary manufacturing systems, production & inventory control, facilities design, manufacturing processes, automation, and others. Her research focuses on the human and social impacts of implementing new manufacturing systems and successful teaching of manufacturing systems concepts.

 

Andreas Nitzsche ('98)
Manager, Platform Quality Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars • Daimler AG, Sindelfingen, Germany

 

During my studies of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Stuttgart, I felt I was not only missing international experience for my personal development, but recognized that there has to be something 'more' to my education than just lecturing and pure theory.

 

Fortunately, I discovered the University of Wisconsin and the Manufacturing Systems Engineering Program as the perfect opportunity to exactly get what I was looking for. The campus in Madison is a very diverse place with a highly international and open-minded student body. I had great support in getting to know the new surroundings and made not only lasting friendships, but also gained deep insight into how people with different cultural background can interact and succeed in a work-like environment.

 

My time at the MSE program gave me the invaluable background needed to exist as a professional in today’s global workplace. The MSE curriculum – interdisciplinary in nature – gave me great freedom of choice and flexibility, so that I could focus on my personal priorities and interest areas. The most valuable feature of the program for me, however, is project work. During the four semesters, I was working on five different projects consulting local companies on their lead time reduction efforts. In student teams advised by faculty, I was working on real-world problems at the respective companies with true responsibility for overall system analysis and timely definition of the outcomes.

 

My time at the MSE program gave me the invaluable background needed to exist as a professional in today’s global workplace. Overall an exceptional personal experience and highly recommended.

 

Pat Galecki ('95)
Technical Advisor, Manufacturing/Operations • Cummins Inc., Stoughton, WI

 

Before entering the MSE program, I had worked in manufacturing so I thought I understood how it worked. The MSE program opened the doors to a much broader manufacturing world. Just as the name suggests, the MSE programs recognizes that manufacturing is an integral part of a true “system” and only by understanding each of the functions, can you truly work to optimize it.

 

Since graduation, I have worked mostly on new product introduction programs culminating in supporting or leading the development of new manufacturing plants on five continents. The MSE degree prepared me well for this work by providing a solid manufacturing foundation and an exposure to the manufacturing interfaces that are needed when performing project based work. Each day requires a new set of skills that crosses functions such as finance, design, quality, materials, operations - and the MSE degree provided exposure to each of these areas.

 

A pleasant surprise of the MSE program I did not expect before arriving on campus was the diversity of the students in the program. The students had varied backgrounds in terms of culture, education. The team-based approach to many classes fostered this multicultural interaction and offered an additional source of learning beyond the classroom environment.

 

Each day requires a new set of skills that crosses functions such as finance, design, quality, materials, operations - and the MSE degree provided exposure to each of these areas. I highly recommend the MSE program because its core curriculum provides the system level understanding needed to excel in manufacturing while the electives allow each student to pursue their topics of interest in further detail. I came away with considerably more knowledge and experience and also new friendships that have continued to contribute to my professional and personal development.

 

Pat currently works on manufacturing technology transfer for new plants starting in China and Brazil. His duties center on leading; development of manufacturing/operations teams in various countries, capital justification, defining equipment specifications, equipment supplier selection and facility design/layout to meet operational targets for safety, quality, efficiency, capacity and cost.

 

Mike Molnar ('87)
Director, Environmental Policy and Sustainable Development • Cummins, Inc.

 

I was privileged to be a part of the MSE program when it was founded as an innovative and ground-breaking systems-oriented masters program. MSE was a tremendous learning experience, an ideal mix of integrated learning with the ability to specialize in selected technology areas. Through a fellowship I was able to pursue a large scale research thesis under Neil Duffie with another MSE student. We had a complementary set of thesis publications and for years afterwards I heard that our "tomes" still held the prize for taking up the most shelf space.

 

My career was well served with this integrated engineering masters and I wouldn't have done it any other way. The MSE degree opened many doors for me. It proved relevant through many different roles. We have recruited many MSE graduates and all have proven to be high potential engineers and business leaders. Some describe MSE as a "technical MBA" and for those students who design their MSE curriculum with more business school courses it may work well. The flexibility of designing an individual program is certainly a MSE strength. For me, the value was as a "high breadth with technical depth" engineering masters, and some 15 years later I added an executive MBA. My career was well served with this integrated engineering masters and I wouldn't have done it any other way.

 

During my 25 years in industry, I filled leadership roles across in Manufacturing Engineering, Manufacturing Systems, Quality, Capital Planning, and Technology Development. After 9/11, my engineering masters provided me with the opportunity to serve as a White House Fellow in the Office of Science and Technology Policy covering manufacturing research and industrial policies. MSE's solid engineering foundation helped with later credentials such as being a licensed professional engineer, certified manufacturing engineer, and certified energy manager. My degree opened doors for other research and collaborative engineering work, later recognized professionally, including being named a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a Fellow of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

 

I cannot claim that the MSE degree offers entitlement or guarantees success. But the original concept of offering advanced study of manufacturing systems was prescient indeed. Today's enterprise is an integrated system of processes where very few who understand different areas in depth also have a solid grasp of the breadth. Finally, many would be surprised at the "brand equity" that the University of Wisconsin offers — a terrific network of alumni and a feeling of family that few other institutions can match. Forward, friends!