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A Helicopter Ride into Her Future

Majdouline Touil is hoping to ride her very productive internship with the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, maker of the Black Hawk and Seahawk helicopters, right into her future. The multi-talented industrial engineering major, who is also active in the UMass Amherst Theatre Guild and the Society of Women Engineers, has already made her mark at the Sikorsky plant in Stratford, Connecticut, where she was an INROADS intern this past summer. She hopes it will leave a lasting impression.

“This experience definitely changed my professional outlook,” she notes. “Now when I approach a problem, I think about its components like the operations of a factory.”

 At Sikorsky, she put her industrial engineering education to work by completing several projects related to lean manufacturing and continuous improvement.

“I used lean manufacturing principles to implement a pull system of materials into the flight hangar,” she says. “Part of my job was to point out problems that needed to be corrected, but that nobody on their full-time staff had time to address. I really didn’t feel like an intern when working there, because these were projects that were really saving the company millions of dollars.” 

Majdouline was able to receive an internship with Sikorsky through the INROADS program. INROADS partners with Fortune 500 companies to provide internship opportunities for the most promising undergraduate students. Only 20 percent of students who apply to the program are selected to receive an interview with a company.

“I was thrilled that I was accepted into the program,” she says. “The process to receive an interview was competitive but educational.”

Nobody could have drawn up a better design for setting up a post-graduate job. Majdouline also looked into the employee benefits while she was there, including Sikorsky’s Employee Scholar Program, in which the company will pay for fulltime employees to earn their masters degrees.

“Hopefully, after graduation, I will be able to work for Sikorsky and then, after I’m settled in, go to graduate school part-time and have Sikorsky pay for it,” she says. “They have it set up so that you can go to your classes right there at the plant, right after work. You just go downstairs, take your class, and go home.” 

Not that Majdouline is living just for the future. She also has plenty on her plate in the present tense. She is the president of the Society of Women Engineers. She is also one of the board members of the Theatre Guild, where she stage-manages productions, handles actors’ scheduling  conflicts, and organizes rehearsals. All the while, she maintains a GPA of 3.6, which has earned her scholarships from the General Electric Women’s Network and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, among others.

How does she do it? “My friends told me I couldn’t handle this kind of schedule,” she says. “I was taking 20 credits, president of SWE, and secretary of the Theatre Guild. But I work hard to manage my time efficiently.”

Majdouline says that prospective students really shouldn’t be afraid of extracurricular activities, because they really enrich your engineering education.

“The first semester of freshman year I was really afraid to do anything but study,” she recalls. “Afraid I couldn’t keep up with the course load. But then, come the spring semester, my good friend [Kevin Cunningham] finally roped me into joining the Theatre Guild, and I was like, ‘I love this. This is just what I needed. It’s a great outlet.’” (September 2010)