Mentors and memberships: Becoming an engineer and a leader

Contact: Cindy Wagner

KALAMAZOO—Rachel Millett's resolve to explore new ideas and learn from her mentors at Western Michigan University proved instrumental in her pursuit of becoming a focused, industrial engineering major.

“During my freshman year, I participated in the peer mentor program, where my mentor helped me to explore majors,” says Millett. “Growing up, I always had a knack for finding the quickest and most efficient way to do things. My peer mentor opened many doors for me and helped me find my passion in industrial and entrepreneurial engineering.”

Rachel Millett in Floyd with two other students

Rachel Millett, an industrial engineering student, is a leader on campus and works hard to help other students.

Once she found her major, there was no stopping Millett. For two years, she has participated in the professional mentorship program within the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, which partners students with alumni working in similar fields.

“A personal, professional connection with an alumni in the field has been an incredible tool for me to learn from their mistakes, get advice on current situations, and pick the brain of a successful engineer,” says Millett. “My first mentor, Jason Tedrow, was an outstanding mentor, and our relationship continues to prosper as we both grow in our own professional lives.” Read about mentor Jason Tedrow, B.S.E.’97, president of InProduction, and his career

This year, she is continuing her participation in the mentorship program, learning from and sharing ideas with Dr. Erik Grant, B.S.'97, vice president of operations at FXI.

Rachel Millett and faculty member Dana Hammond in Floyd Hall

Millett walks with Dana Hammond, faculty specialist of industrial and entrepreneurial engineering and engineering management.

And on the flip side to being mentored, Millett is also a campus leader, sharing her knowledge with other students. As president of both the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) and the Women’s Rugby Club and an active member of WMU’s Supply Chain Management Association, she is not only developing her own skills she is also providing other students with opportunities.

“These organizations are an opportunity to grow as a leader and member of our community, and to learn from others while passing my knowledge onto others around me,” says Milett. “As president of IISE, my goal is to create a welcoming and motivated group that fosters growth in our professional and personal lives. I have been documenting my notable mistakes and lessons learned to better prepare the future leaders of IISE.”

Recently, she was inducted in the Alpha Pi Mu Honor Society and is already taking advantage of the many opportunities to connect with member across the country and the ever-growing WMU Alpha Pi Mu network.

In 2022, She was a key member of the WMU Bronco Pitch Competition winning team that developed The Lux Scrub, a kitchen sink attachment that makes dishwashing more efficient Read more

“My three teammates and I created a genuine business concept for our innovative LUX Scrub,” says Millett of the experience. “I was able to conduct the material research to create a cost efficient and sustainable product.”

Now, with the excitement of her senior year approaching, Millett continues her academic and experience-learning activities with a focus on her future. To get there, she worked as a material management intern at Autocam Medical Devices, where she assisted the purchasing department to assess inventory levels; developed strategies to optimize inventory levels; and enhanced a Kanban system with improved communication and visibility.

“I was able to work with the engineers, line workers and supply chain department to improve their inventory processes. The engineers helped me develop my project by providing me tools to apply lean manufacturing principles.”

With explosive growth of jobs for industrial engineers, Millett’s interests focus on technology and the systems that need to improve and adapt as well as supply chain challenges.

“After graduation, I am excited to get into the field of industrial engineering or supply chain. I hope to have a leadership role where I can practice my team management and interpersonal skills. I am able to keep my options open going into senior year because my major prepares us for any industry.”

Reflecting on her WMU experience, Millett encourages incoming students to try new things and take advantage of the vast opportunities at WMU.

“You will get out what you put in. My student life at WMU has become so important to me because of all the time and hard work I have dedicated to my success here. I advise everyone to do something that pushes you out of your comfort zone, and you will see results with each action.”

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.