"The second I stepped on campus it felt like home, a place that was in line with my values and what I wanted to become."
Chris wanted to play basketball and study engineering, and his grandfather and aunt, both Ambrosian alumni, reflected our strong academic and athletic programs. Yet, what resonated the most with Chris was not what SAU can provide, but what we ask of every student: explore boldly, embrace challenge, be curious about the world and discover the impact you can have.
Chris is a Transportation Analyst for Caterpillar's Strategic Planning and Controls Group, in Peoria, Ill. He supports global procurement for logistics, which in turn, supports the vision and goals of the company. "My job is global in nature, as Caterpillar is a Fortune 100 company. Yesterday, my day started with a call with two members in India and two members in China. It is common for me to video conference with team members in Brazil or Europe," he says.
How did your professors help you succeed?
"The small classes were super beneficial. We had direct oversight from our professors. They knew us and we knew them, and they gave us immediate feedback," he says. "Our professors also had experience in the industry. They provided context about what it was like to solve complex problems in the business world, not just in the classroom."
What was your biggest take-away from the engineering program?
Your education must be applicable beyond the classroom. It must be relevant, spark critical thought and understanding, now and in the future. Chris says that is what he got at SAU. "Even though the problems are not the same things I work with today at Caterpillar, the process to solve them is the same: you must identify, plan, and think outside the box of what currently exits."
Is your classroom education still relevant today?
"The professors used textbook problems to demonstrate that, as an engineer, you are going to come across a range of issues. They all look different. But, if you boil it down it always comes down to identifying the problem and identifying the best solution. I still solve problems today that are global in nature that I can tie back to a class, or a problem in a textbook, that I solved when I was 20 years old."
Can you assess the value of your engineering degree?
"When I hear the word 'value' my mind immediately goes to dollars, but that would shortchange the real value of my education: I made good friends, I became a more rounded person through the liberal arts, and I earned an engineering degree that prepared me to make an impact the first day I entered the workforce, and to continue as I go through my career."