Priscilla Bennett

Priscilla B Bennett

Title
Manager
Organization
Spire / Laclede Gas Company
Location
O'Fallon, MO, United States
Priscilla Bennett
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Biography
Hi! I'm Priscilla and Manager of Tech Field Support. I've worked as an Industrial Engineer, Project Engineer, Logistics Engineer and Continuous Improvement Engineer. I'm always excited to share what I've learned and love how engineering has offered many opportunities to see and do so much more than I ever imagined! I'm actively involved with FIRST Robotics all the way up to the World Championship level and I love it! Don't ever stop learning or having fun while you work!
Education
BSIE - Industrial Engineering from New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM MSIE - Industrial Engineering from New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM
  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to serve as a sponsor or coach for an engineering club or team.
  • I am willing to be interviewed by interested students via email.
Answers by Priscilla B Bennett

Mia, thank you for submitting the question and I’m thrilled you are looking into your future and how best to match your skillset, interests and career goals to ensure you choose the education that best meets your lifelong plan.

Industrial Engineering is definitely a diversified engineering field.  I have my Industrial Engineering degrees, however, over the past 10 years, I’ve mostly worked on Project Management and Continuous Improvement Projects for my company and not much of the manufacturing, logistical and Six Sigma-type tasks most Industrial Engineers work through on a day-to-day basis.  I worked in a large manufacturing facility in Wentzville (I’m sure you can guess where) as an Industrial Engineer for the Materials Department and I loved it!  The position there was most representative of an IE – reorganizing work tasks, efficiency planning to reduce costs and eliminate waste (both in materials and human work moves/labor) along with streamlining production lines for efficiency and cost-savings.  I was walking the manufacturing floor every day, interacting with personnel (both Union and Management) on a regular basis, attending and contributing to meetings on productivity and working through unexpected issues throughout the day (material shortages and re-aligning jobs to keep production moving or personnel shortages and how to maintain production at current speeds using inexperienced personnel – so training on the fly sometimes – to name just a few).  It is an exciting environment on the manufacturing/production floor and offers a great training area for new engineers (of all disciplines).  I did move on from that employer seeking advancement and pay increases and was hired in another manufacturing environment as a Continuous Improvement Engineer for a much smaller company.  Unfortunately that company moved its operations out of state but I was fortunate to quickly find a Project Engineering position with the gas utility here in St. Louis.  While I love the Project Management portion of my job, I do have to admit (as an IE) I truly miss the excitement of the manufacturing/production environment.

If you are looking for something that is never boring, never the same, lots of hands-on and offers learning opportunities every day, an Industrial Engineer in the manufacturing world is great!  If you are looking for something a little more “calm” and in an office setting, some of the other disciplines in Engineering might be worth a second look.  If you are interested in math, science and improving this world in small and big ways…definitely stay in the engineering field.

As for a mentor, I would love to help (I see we both live in O’Fallon!) and I have numerous friends and colleagues in various engineering disciplines which I’m sure we can find you not just one but maybe a few mentors to help you learn more about the various engineering disciplines before you make it through college.  I also volunteer with FIRST Robotics and there are some very sharp, interesting and very helpful engineers in the program that are always willing to share their work experience, knowledge and connections with new engineers! 

I’m wishing you the very best with your future education and career choice!  Stay positive and never stop learning!!

-Priscilla 

Hello Kennedy!  I'm glad you are exploring your options now and looking at how best to utilize your educational experience to pursue a career that interests you most and will be most fulfilling!  I am an Industrial Engineer...I've always loved to organize, prioritize and logically place things in order to optimize results.  I've worked in a large manufacturing environment and in other settings and one thing I've learned over the years is...engineers can be found in various work environments, various levels of an organization and doing a vast array of work tasks based on the company/organization's particular goals. One cute "snippet" I found might help you some...Civil engineers build the world; Mechanical engineers run the world; Electrical engineers power the world; Computer engineers program the world; Electronics engineers gadgetize the world and Industrial engineers manage the world.  ALL engineering careers are going to contribute to our environment and society but one question that is tougher is what organization/company are you wanting to work for in the future.  The best way to learn (that I've found) is through Work-Study, Internship programs and volunteering for various organizations (I still volunteer today with FIRST Robotics!).  You learn first-hand what a company is all about and how they are tied to our world and what they contribute.  I believe your love for Math and Science is much needed and pursuing an engineering degree is going to offer you that opportunity to work with these particular skills for a lifetime, but ultimately your choice in employer will drive how closely you contribute to society in a manner that you prefer.  I am now a Manager at a gas utility so I don't really do much "engineering" as much as managing people now.  But with the previous positions I've held, I've optimized workloads for assembly line workers, worked with vendors to optimize delivery of materials, re-engineered production lines, managed hardware inventories and deployments, implemented new software solutions to field personnel, lead projects within my organizations and served on special focus groups as a resource and subject matter expert.  The aspect of Industrial Engineering that I've always loved the most and appreciate greatly is this field of study has always been closely tied with "working with people" and the systems that people work with...meaning I've never been locked in a room (or with a tiny group) for any great length of time...I've always been able to work with people and allowed to get up (from a desk) to go look, see and do to provide more viable solutions.  I'm glad you're considering engineering and I'm wishing you only the very best with your college career and your future engineering career.  If I can help further, please let me know.  Remember to never stop learning!!    -Priscilla 

Excellent question and I believe (from what you post), you've done some research!!  An Industrial Engineering degree will most certainly cross over and cover many of the areas you need for Systems Engineering careers (designing and managing engineering projects, logistics, project requirements management, metrics and evaluation measurements, work processes, optimizations and managing risks) - all things I love about IE.  You would also benefit from some Project Management certification as well, if the opportunity presents itself.  It will also be beneficial to know (or have some idea) what field you are interested in working (long term career goal) - such as aerospace, oil & gas, manufacturing, utility, government or local city/county civil engineering careers, chemical or research industry, agriculture...the list goes on and on!  Once you have some idea of what interests you most, some courses sprinkled in with your BS degree to get better acquainted with that particular language, process, history so you are a little more familiar and prepared to pursue an internship (before graduation) or jump right into a full-time position right after you graduate.  Sounds like you are headed in the right direction by asking questions, learning more and most certainly with your engineering degree goals!  I'm excited for you...and VERY excited you've chosen an engineering career!  I've always been glad I chose engineering - your college degree will make you very valuable and versatile in the constantly changing workplace! Continued success and I'm always available if you'd like more information!   -P

Hello Payton!  You have some GREAT questions and I'm thrilled that you're spending some time researching and learning as much as you can before you start your college education! I translate your "I'm only average with math" that you understand there is some math involved with ANY engineering degree and the "trick" to mastering math is practice. You will need to take and pass some calculus, linear algebra and differential equations and your science would also include some physics but don't forget you'd also want to include some Matlab or programming language courses, if they are available to you now. If you're committed to a degree, you can definitely pass your required math and science courses.  I failed an intro-civil engineering course and an advanced Calculus course the first go-round, but you can't quit and also note, sometimes those courses are used to "weed out" those who are not committed to the degree. You have to hang in there and focus! PRACTICE, group study sessions, committing to the homework and your own desire to an engineering degree are key to your success - the learning will happen if you're focused.  Environmental engineering is an exciting career and if you already have an interest in chemistry and biology along with working with water and all the processes we as humans need then I want you working as an environmental engineer!! Water treatment, analysis, sources, sampling, wastewater treatment, control systems...the list goes on and on that you'll want to also include an internship or work-study program to better inform yourself of what you prefer career-wise once you've completed your degree.  I'm wishing you GREAT success and hopefully I was able to answer your questions.  If not, please feel free to reach out again and we'll dig a little deeper and find you some more answers.  Never stop learning!!  -P