ISyE undergraduate student, Erin Lightfoot, can easily recall the day that altered the focus of her college experience. It was during a summer program where she attended a workshop highlighting supply chain and operations management. Her ears really perked up when they mentioned ISyE’s Center for Health & Humanitarian Systems and the unique branch in the supply chain called humanitarian logistics. Erin was fascinated by the idea of organizing the flow of resources from creation to delivery especially with the intent of helping people in need. By age 17, Erin had already coordinated a variety of events from clothing drives to music concerts and was eager to transform her interests into a full time career. After the summer program, she researched ISyE and the rest is history.
Now in her fourth year of college, Erin has emerged as a leader on campus. She has made the Dean’s list every semester and is on track to graduate with high honors. Erin’s knowledge in supply chain engineering continues to grow, with two product supply internships with Procter and Gamble and one product supply internship with Coca-Cola under her belt.
Why did you choose the SCE concentration?
I chose it because I wanted to learn the decision-making strategies behind storing a product and transporting it from point A to point Z. The field of supply chain engineering (SCE) gives you all of the answers to the what, when, where, why, and how questions of any organization that makes a product or provides a service. The food we eat, clothes we wear, and homes we live in are all the results of supply chains. By selecting the SCE concentration, I take courses that answer questions like: When is the best time to start selling my favorite seasonal candy? Where in the United States should a company produce blue jeans? And how do you schedule all of the building materials for a new house to arrive at the right time?
What aspect of the overall program to you find most beneficial?
I am grateful that ISyE has an extensive faculty, many of whom are the leaders in their respective fields. I know that I am being taught by the best! Additionally, my professors and advisors have supported me outside of the classroom by encouraging me to pursue research opportunities and recommending me for various conferences, scholarships, and student leadership roles.
What do you want to do when you graduate?
After graduating with my B.S. in Industrial Engineering, I will work for Amazon Fulfillment as an Area Manager. Also, I aim to attend graduate school to earn my M.S. in Supply Chain Engineering or my MBA within the next six years. I also look forward to remaining involved in community outreach.
What was the best piece of advice you ever got? The worst?
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to not be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help whether it pertained to my classes, personal life, or career goals was a way to ensure I made progress daily and kept a positive outlook on my future.
The worst advice anyone ever told me was to fake it until you make it. Yes, it’s good to envision yourself as a better person, student, or friend. But it’s better to take active steps to making it a reality. Then you won’t be faking it!
You are very involved at GT. How do you balance that with your classwork?
I learned the importance of work-life balance the hard way at Georgia Tech. I reached my limit during my junior year when I took 18 credits each semester and was president of two organizations. Even during that demanding but incredible year of involvement, I followed a weekly schedule including my classes, events, and study time. I also set aside personal time for my favorite TV shows, sports games, and singing in G.I.F.T.E.D. gospel choir.
Do you use your IE skills outside of the classroom? If so, how?
This semester, I earned an undergraduate research assistantship with Georgia Tech Health Analytics which is a dream come true. A huge goal of mine was to apply IE concepts to address challenges in the healthcare and education fields, so I’m ecstatic to have this opportunity.
Tell us something few people know about you.
Few people know that I studied Vocal Music in middle and high school. I sang Alto in a Grammy award-winning ensemble, and I directed a children’s choir for seven years prior to enrolling in Georgia Tech. The Davidson Chorale and the Beulah Grove Children’s Choir in Augusta, GA are both close to my heart.
Industrial and Systems Engineering