It took a high school internship for one industrial engineering student to realize that engineering involves more than just building roads and bridges.
Sarah Longmire, senior in industrial engineering, “loved” her science and math classes growing up in Iowa City. She was a bit apprehensive about the field of engineering, admitting she thought engineers only “built stuff,” but her father and grandfather (an engineer) encouraged her to learn more about the different types of engineering. After losing a bet with her father, she had to uphold her end of the bargain by taking a high school engineering course.
“Through that course, I found that I really enjoyed engineering but I was more interested in a non-traditional engineering role,” said Longmire. “Later in high school I had the chance to intern for Collins Aerospace and was able to shadow a variety of engineers. This is when I realized that industrial engineering would be the best fit for me.”
She was fairly certain she would study industrial engineering (IE) in college, knowing that an IE degree allowed her the career versatility to serve in everything from technical positions to more business-oriented roles. She felt that Iowa State University had more of a “collaborative emphasis” compared to the other schools she considered, which ultimately led her to pursue her engineering adventure in Ames.
“When I toured other schools, I was turned off by how much they encouraged classmates to compete with each other. While I am very competitive, I realize that the engineering world is all about working with teams to solve problems, and I wanted an environment that encouraged that,” she said.
Longmire got involved with research her freshman year and she said she is still grateful to Frank Peters, C. G. “Turk” and Joyce A. Therkildsen Professor and associate professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, who brought her on to his undergraduate research team. Through this experience she did everything from outreach efforts with local schools to projects with manufacturing companies. Longmire went on to take I E 348: Solidification Processes with Peters, whom she said has been one of her most impactful professors at Iowa State.
Longmire is also building an impressive resume with her other activities outside of the classroom. She is involved with Pi Beta Phi sorority and has interned with the Anning Johnson Company as well as The Boeing Company. She also consults for Iowa State’s CyBIZ Lab.
Another student organization near and dear to Longmire’s heart is Dance Marathon. Dance Marathon is a once-a-year, 12-hour dance event. Organizers raise money in the months leading up to the event with proceeds going to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital back in Longmire’s hometown of Iowa City. Part of the funds also go to children in the Ames area who are battling life-threatening illnesses.
Longmire has been involved with Dance Marathon in various capacities since her freshman year and served as the organization’s executive co-director and president for 2020-2021. In this role her responsibilities included, overseeing a 20-person executive team and a 100-person committee as well as helping to organize an event with about 500 participants. Organizers made special adaptations to this year’s Dance Marathon – which took place on April 17 and raised $184,579.24 – to accommodate COVID-19 protocols.
Longmire will graduate with her B.S. in IE later this spring. She said some of her fondest memories from her time at Iowa State include Dance Marathon, football games in Jack Trice Stadium and “staying until 2 a.m. at the library drinking cranberry Red Bulls and eating cheese sticks.” Upon graduation she will move to Salt Lake City where she will work as an operations analyst for Goldman Sachs. She said she expects content from courses like I E 222: Design & Analysis Methods for System Improvements, I E 312: Optimization and I E 361: Statistical Quality Assurance to be especially relevant to her position. Reflecting back on it, she said majoring in IE was a great decision, particularly for anyone who likes to always be working on something that is both rewarding and exciting.
“IE is all about driving efficiencies and making everyone’s overall experience better and I’ve found that there is hardly ever a dull moment being an IE,” she said.