One of the many benefits of getting a Master of Engineering Management (MEM) degree from the program at NC State is that you can gain practical experience in applying your engineering management knowledge to real-world problems at a local business or the University. So in the Fall of 2022, MEM director Julie Ivy started the MEM Project Presentation Competition. Learning to summarize and explain information is a valuable skill. For engineering managers, it is essential as they are often the interface between technical teams and more senior management who may not have technical expertise. “The MEM Project Presentation is a great opportunity to practice and develop these skills,” shared Ivy. From the contestants, a six-member panel of faculty judges (Ed Addison, Julie Ivy, Brandon McConnell, Osman Ozaltin, Chris Rock and Michael Spano) selected the winner, Mega Viswanathan. But, the students also picked a “people’s choice” winner, Ardra Premkumar.
The faculty and students scored the contestants using a 15-item assessment tool that covered areas like technical work, presentation skills, overall quality, methods used and the ultimate question, “Would you hire this person?” The students used the criteria, “Would they want to work on a team with this presenter?”
Best Presentation Award
The faculty scored the contestants using a 15-item assessment tool that covered areas like technical work, presentation skills, overall quality, methods used and the ultimate question, “Would you hire this person?” When the judges’ scores were calculated, there was an unmistakable winner, Mega Viswanathan. “Mega was the clear winner on the metrics, and she scored the highest on the hireability question,” Ivy explained.
Viswanathan was both surprised and honored with her selection. “I believe it’s always wonderful to be recognized for contributions and achievements,” she said. She knows this type of award reflects her enthusiasm for working with data, confirms that she is moving in the right direction and encourages her to continue her professional endeavors. “Mega has been highly engaged with the MEM program since her first semester,” said Brandon McConnell, research assistant professor. “She has an infectious positive attitude and is always seeking to expand her professional skill set.”
“I am immensely proud of this achievement,” confided Viswanathan. “It would not have been possible without the assistance of Dr. Julie Ivy and my friends, to whom I express my sincere gratitude.” After graduation, she plans to focus her career on data analytics. “I aim to leverage the knowledge and skills I have gained to work for a reputed organization where I can contribute to developing data-driven strategies, she said. “Furthermore, I would like to explore new places and cultures across the country.”
People’s Choice Award
After the MEM students provided their peer evaluations, which included not only the question, “Would you hire this person?” but also, “Would you want to work on a team with this presenter?” the winner was clear. “Ardra had the highest scores across all three categories,” shared Ivy.
“I am deeply humbled to have received this award, which serves as a testament to the recognition I have received from my peers,” confided Premkumar. “The appreciation I have garnered from my classmates, who not only found my presentation engaging but also relatable, is indeed gratifying.” She feels great knowing that her work has inspired others and generated interest in the organization she represented. After graduation, Premkumar plans to transition from a business analyst to a technical product manager. “I am working towards obtaining a product management certificate from Stanford University and pursuing a PMP certification to enhance my qualifications further.”
Both winners received a $50 Amazon gift card and a certificate signed by the Dean of the College of Engineering. They also have some advice for anyone considering joining the MEM Program. “I would advise you to have a passion for technology and business,” shared Viswanathan. “This program is ideal for students interested in pursuing careers at the intersection of technology and businesses.” Premkumar thinks that research is the key to success. “Conduct thorough research,” she said. “It is imperative to have a precise objective in mind regarding what you wish to achieve with your degree and where you aspire to reach. Conducting my research helped me select subjects that genuinely interested me and would eventually support my long-term career objectives.”
Congratulations to the winners, Mega Viswanathan and Ardra Premkumar.