Congratulations to the Class of 2022!

UF ISE Outreach Engineering Management (OEM) graduates participate in commencement exercises at the O’Connell Center

The OEM Class of 2022 celebrated graduation at a banquet on Sunday, May 1, at the Reitz Union on the main UF campus in Gainesville. The students were joined by their families and friends to commemorate their accomplishments.

The Program Director, Mengyu (May) Li, Ph.D., kicked off the celebration event by acknowledging the students’ hard work and perseverance in reaching the completion of the program. UF’s Industrial & Systems Engineering Department Chair, David Kaber, Ph.D., recognized the unprecedented challenges stemming from COVID that substantially impacted the cohort. He applauded the students’ efforts and dedication to the degree program.

Three of the graduating students, Cristina Barreto, Joe Lewandowski, and Liam Page, gave speeches during the banquet. They shared their thoughts on experiences in the 20-month program and the journey to graduation.

Cristina Barreto
Cristina Barreto addresses the OEM 2022  graduating class.

In her remarks, Barreto called out many stereotypes that engineers face in industry. In a comical manner, she said the most common notion is that, “Their work is boring!” She went on to note that, “some of my classmates work at NASA, Disney, Universal, Lockheed/Northrop, Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority! Come on…, rollercoasters, rocket science and roads! That’s every young engineer’s DREAM!”

Lewandowski highlighted the personal multi-generational connections he had made and underscored their importance in maintaining a sense of unity in the cohort, when in-person classes were canceled due to COVID.  He said that he had learned to embrace new technologies and apps with which he was previously unfamiliar.  Although he reported experiencing a bit of a learning curve, he said there was no lack of support from his peers.

Page reflected on choices and leadership and recounted how he had been inspired to enroll in the OEM Program by a leader in his organization, who was an OEM alumnus.  “This mentor gave me the courage and the energy to go after this degree, and I am very thankful for this person in my career.”  He went on to say, “The more exceptional individuals that follow us and attend this program in the future, the more power it will hold over time as a symbol for professional leadership development and excellence in higher learning. I encourage you all to support this program after today by attempting to operate as your best selves in your personal and professional lives while recalling any insights you may have gained about yourself or about the world while participating in this degree.”

To date, the OEM Program has graduated 920 students, including many who are now in senior leadership positions at global corporations.  To learn more about how the program has benefited our alumni, visit our Testimonials page.