Engineering grad manufacturing a successful career

Contact: Erin Flynn
John Goheen stands outside of Floyd Hall with his arms in the air as snow falls.

John Goheen is graduating with a bachelor's degree in manufacturing engineering technology and his pick of job offers on the table.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—John Goheen loves to work with his hands; it's in his blood. Growing up around his family's farm in Sandusky, Michigan, which dates back five generations, he's also had plenty of opportunity to learn how machines work and how to fix them. 

"(It's) given me great experience in problem-solving, mechanical ability and learning about how systems operate," he says. 

That voracity for hands-on learning opportunities has helped Goheen cultivate successful career prospects at Western Michigan University, as well.

"I've gotten lots of experience in many different realms and many positions," says the manufacturing engineering technology student. "I've had about five internships since I've been here, and I feel like wherever I end up, as long as I find my niche, I'll be set."

Poised to graduate with a bachelor's degree at Western's fall commencement ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 16, Goheen has his pick of job offers on the table.

"Manufacturing is huge here in Michigan. Finding enjoyment in what I do has always been my main motivation. I could end up in any engineering industry, and if I am passionate about a position and eager to learn, that's all that matters," he says. "A lot of people come to college and say, 'I want to build airplanes or roller coasters.’ For me, I'm happy when I feel like I'm making a difference."

DRIVEN BY EXPERIENCE

Goheen originally came to Western interested in mechanical engineering before switching his major to engineering design. Two years into the program, he adjusted his plan again to manufacturing and never looked back.

"I realized I wasn't the sort of person who wanted to just crank out numbers all day long like a typical mechanical or aerospace engineer," says Goheen. 

"I feel very well rounded from the opportunities I've had here at Western," Goheen says. “From meeting new friends and colleagues, attending football and hockey games, and taking part in various student organizations to being challenged through meaningful internships and classes, the many memories I have made at WMU are some of my most cherished.”

An integral part of his Western education is rooted in industry experience. Completing multiple internships gave Goheen a chance to test out different potential careers and find something that clicked. His varied experiences include:

  • Spending two summers at Production Development Systems, a small company in Sandusky that specializes in manufacturing, fabrication and robotics, where he worked on automation equipment.

  • Working for Odyssey Tool in Detroit in manufacturing and design.

  • Working in the foundry at Brembo North America, in Homer, Michigan, getting experience in both production and quality control and working with upper management to make process changes and create lean manufacturing practices to implement in the industry.

  • Working as a product engineer at MANN+HUMMEL in Portage, Michigan, where he would see projects through from design phase to manufacturing and tooling.

"Having all of those experiences (before graduation) has changed the direction of what I thought I would end up doing and made me realize what I'm passionate about," says Goheen, who is interested in improving and creating more sustainable manufacturing practices.

"I'm very passionate about Industry 4.0—the fourth industrial revolution—and seeing it implemented. It's the culmination of bringing artificial intelligence and connectivity into manufacturing so management and engineers can get live, real-time data from wherever you are in the world," he says. "Being at the forefront of the industry during this time of change is exciting, and I look forward to the impact I can make."

Western's world-class faculty also played a large role in Goheen's development as a future engineer, helping him build a strong foundation rooted in innovation.

An aerial photo of John Goheen standing on the WMU seal and raising his graduation cap off of his head.

Goheen is focused on the future and finding a job where he can make an impact.

"They really look toward the future and try to teach in such a way that we're always seeking the next technological step, too. Not just looking at what's out there now but seeing what the future holds in five to 10 years," Goheen says. "A lot of (our professors) are top in their field and have developed many innovations already. So, from a student's perspective, we're speaking to and learning from the best of the best—the people who really know what the industry will look like because they're the ones inventing for the industry."

In addition to excelling in the classroom—Goheen was named Presidential Scholar in 2023 for the Department of Engineering Design, Manufacturing and Management Systems, Western's highest undergraduate academic honor—he also put his engineering skills into practice in registered student organizations (RSOs) such as the Sunseeker Solar Car, where he briefly worked on the steering and suspension systems team, and Formula SAE, where he helped create the exhaust system for the RSO's race car. 

"I feel very well rounded from the opportunities I've had here at Western," Goheen says. “From meeting new friends and colleagues, attending football and hockey games, and taking part in various student organizations to being challenged through meaningful internships and classes, the many memories I have made at WMU are some of my most cherished.”

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