OU partners with FCA US to manufacture leaders

OU partners with FCA US to manufacture leaders
nick and taylor fica
Nick Karoumy, ISE `14 (right), and Taylor Humm, ISE `15, inside the Tipton Transmission Plant in Tipton, Indiana during a work trip through the Manufacturing Leadership Development Program at FCA US.

A partnership between Oakland University and one of the largest employers in southeast Michigan continues to cultivate leaders among graduating Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) majors.


There are currently five Oakland ISE alumni in the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) US Manufacturing Leadership Development Program (MLDP), a two-year rotational program that allows participants to have leadership roles in all major manufacturing functions.


Nick Karoumy, ISE `14, and Taylor Humm, ISE `15, are both part of the program, and are finding it helpful to soak up many different experiences while on the job. On June 15, Humm will have been in the MLDP program for a year.


“I feel as though I have a whole new wealth of knowledge and expertise,” said Humm, 23, who works at FCA US headquarters in Auburn Hills. “Being in automotive teaches you to problem solve. Every minute you’re moving products, thinking critically and learning to problem solve effectively.”


Each rotation during the program lasts four months, and students also have an opportunity to complete a company-sponsored MBA or a master’s degree in mechanical, electrical or industrial and systems engineering. In each assignment of six total, participants are put in hands-on roles that help them gain experience and get a grasp of FCA US’s World Class Manufacturing philosophy.


Students also attend a graduate program at one of six local universities, including Oakland, which is partnered with FCA US. Participants are assigned mentors that help guide them through the program and the students’ career progression.


In addition to Karoumy and Humm, Oakland ISE alumni Jon Essenmacher, Doug Lindow, and Adam Quinn are also members of the program, which has several requirements.


Candidates for the program must have earned a bachelor’s degree of science in a manufacturing-related program, have a minimum 3.0 GPA, a strong interest in manufacturing operations, strong leadership characteristics, and an ability to work in a team environment. FCA US also prefers that those being considered for the program have a previous internship with an automotive manufacturer.


Karoumy, 24, says along with being immersed into the company’s culture, the program has brought him in contact with a wide array of employees – all with different backgrounds and experiences.


“Coming out of college, it’s tough to go to an older work force and tell people who have been doing their jobs for 20 years what to do,” said Karoumy, whose rotation is now at Warren Truck Assembly. “It’s a humbling experience, but you learn different approaches to how you’re going to lead people.”


For now, Karoumy is using a lot of others’ experiences as learning opportunities for himself, he said.


“I’m just absorbing all this knowledge and think of myself as a sponge. I use it to be better at my job,” said Karoumy. “It’s always very helpful. If I ever have a question, I just ask one of those folks.”


Both students said their ISE coursework helped them prepare specifically for their roles in the MLDP, taking pieces of systems engineering and industrial engineering and applying them to the company. “It was good, because going into the job, I already had a lot of knowledge,” said Karoumy.


Dr. Robert Van Til, Pawley Professor of Lean Studies and Chair of the ISE Department said Oakland has a long history of partnering with FCA US on educational and research projects.


“Back in 1995, I spent a summer as a visiting faculty working in their Sterling Heights Assembly Plant,” Van Til said. “Besides hiring ISE graduates into their MLDP and into other engineering positions, several ISE students are interning this summer at FCA.  In addition, a large number of full-time FCA engineers are currently enrolled in our ISE M.S. and Engineering Management M.S. programs.”


Added Humm: “It puts a smile on my face, coming into an assembly complex and seeing each vehicle being built and each piece getting ready to be assembled at a specific time. I’m finding myself using the theory I learned in class and applying it to real life issues.”


For more information on the Manufacturing Leadership Development Program, visit fcagroupcareers.com/Students/Pages/MLDP.aspx. Visit oakland.edu/ise for more on Oakland University’s programs in Industrial and Systems Engineering as well as Engineering Management.