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Successful Graduate - Katie Boyer
Get Down to Business - Careers in Manufacturing
The Kansas City Star, The Star in Education Special Section. March 8, 2005
A self-described “hands-on” person, Katie Boyer originally planned to pursue a career in home building and design. But her interest in the design and construction of homes eventually led to a fascination with the different designs and manufacturing processes for everyday objects. Now Boyer works as a design engineer for Waterloo Industries, a world leader in manufacturing tool storage systems. Boyer, who has eight years of manufacturing experience, works at the Sedalia, Mo. division of the national company.
A native of Knob Noster, Mo., Boyer enrolled in the construction management program at University of Central Missouri (UCM) in Warrensburg following her graduation from high school. “I took building trades and industrial technology classes in high school because interested in home building,” she said. “Then, I got a job working on the shop floor at Harmon Industries, a railroad systems company. It was there that I developed an interest in manufacturing and production.”
Boyer switched her major and obtained a bachelor’s of science degree in industrial technology. She will graduate this semester with a master’s of science degree in industrial management from UCM.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree, Boyer was hired as a drafter at Waterloo Industries, Inc. Her job required her to maintain and create production prints for new and existing products. In 2004 Boyer was promoted to design engineer. Her new job requires her to implement new products into production and maintain existing product designs. “My education in drafting and manufacturing processes along with my experience in industry has benefited my position,” she said. “The courses I have taken have each given me something I can use in the job I do today.” Boyer said that her position requires her to be skilled in computer aided drafting and understand manufacturing processes and project management.
A design engineer’s duties vary from day-to-day, she said. “My priorities are different every day, depending on schedules, but there are tasks that I do that have to be tended to daily.” For example, Boyer writes, approves and releases engineering change orders for changes and releases of product. She also coordinates projects and performs cost estimates for new products that are in the development stage. Boyer’s job is specific to particular product lines that are produced at the Sedalia facility. “I implement all the new products and maintain the design on all the existing product within those product lines,” she said. “I am involved in every change made to my dedicated product lines.”
Boyer said that the most enjoyable aspect of her job is implementing new products to the plant. “This process takes teamwork, which makes it fun,” she said. “Watching a product go from being a thought to being produced in mass production is very satisfying.” The most challenging part of her job is change, she added. “But that is industry,” she said. “If a company does not change constantly to improve themselves they will fall behind the competition.” Students interested in pursuing a manufacturing career should take high school courses in computers, drafting and mathematics, she said. “I went to a high school that offered industrial technology classes that introduced students to Computer Numerical Control (CNC) and coordinating a project from design to production,” she said. “Today, most high school students have more advanced industrial and drafting courses offered to them through the high school or vocational school.”
Boyer recommended that aspiring manufacturing students learn as much as possible in the field of industrial technology and design, understand the fundamentals of drafting and manufacturing and have the ability to be flexible. Students who are unsure about a future career should assess their interests and then select a career that complements those interests, she said. “You will enjoy your job more, so you can set and accomplish the goals that you set for your future,” she said.
** Reprinted with permission, The Kansas City Star.