Like most students nearing graduation, Ryan Sellers, a senior industrial and management systems engineering major from Oakland, Md., is on top of the world. In Sellers’ case, the analogy also has a real-world component.
For the past few months Sellers has been completing a cooperative education program with Kalkreuth Roofing and Sheet Metal, overseeing the roofing projects on West Virginia University’s College of Law building and WVU Healthcare’s Rosenbaum Family House.
Kalkreuth Roofing and Sheet Metal is headquartered in Wheeling and its current president, John Kalkreuth, and executive vice president, Jim Hurley, are graduates of the industrial and management systems engineering program. All told, the company currently employs seven alums, including Brendan Ball, the project manager for the projects at WVU.
“An IMSE degree is the right training for our industry,” said Kalkreuth. “We are not strict discipline engineers. Industrial engineering provides the blend of the management and technical skills we look for.”
At the end of the spring semester, Sellers was in need of an internship. After an unsuccessful search at the College’s Career Fair, he turned to Jack Byrd, Jr., professor of industrial and management systems engineering, for help.
“I asked him if he could find me something in the area,” said Sellers. “He emailed me back about a week later and said that Kalkreuth was looking for somebody and they had projects going on in Morgantown.”
Byrd says he has been in contact with Kalkreuth ever since John graduated and has given the company interns almost yearly.
“Jack’s a pest,” Kalkreuth laughed. “Just recently, I was in Denver and met a woman who was also a Jack Byrd prodigy. There is such a strong network amongst IMSE grads. No matter where you go or where you turn, you’re bound to run into someone from WVU. It says a lot about the program and a lot about Jack.”
Sellers was thrown into the fire when he started his internship in May.
“They just threw me into it,” Sellers recalled. “I don’t know if (Ball) just trusted me or if it was Dr. Byrd’s recommendations, but he sent me the prints, said to measure things, and then I pretty much learned off the foremen and other laborers on the job.”
Sellers was the on-site project manager for KRSM, because Ball had other projects in different locations. This put him in charge of the operations on a day-to-day basis, which meant he was ultimately responsible for the workers.
“I showed up one day and no one was there,” said Sellers. “I was like, ‘what’s going on?’”
As it turned out, one of the projects other managers called the workers off the project and sent them to another job that day. This was a problem because the masonry team was ready to work on their part of the project with the roofing team that day.
“I was the head of roll there and had to take responsibility,” said Sellers. He had to contact the managers and foremen of the other teams and explain to them the situation at hand.
Though that experience was not pleasurable, Sellers knows that kind of experience is exactly why students need internships.
“You don’t take human interaction courses? how to deal with other people,” said Sellers. “It’s how to cope with problems you face. That’s what an internship is good for.”
“You can’t replace that in terms of resume value,” Byrd said of the internship experience.
Internships are required of all industrial and management systems engineering students before graduation. Byrd is committed to finding his students quality professional experience, something he says is unique about the program at WVU.
“We put a lot more attention on helping them get internships,” said Byrd, who is devoted to the professional success of his students. “You could probably name any student in our program and I could probably tell you where they are in terms of a job search.”
Though Seller’s started out as an intern, his performance prompted the nationally recognized roofing company to keep him on after the summer ended. Sellers will be the “eyes and ears” at the project site through the completion of the law school project, which should be at the end of September 2013.
According to Ball, Sellers’ success can be attributed to his work ethic and preparation.
“Ryan is the type of kid who is at work at 5:30 a.m. when the crew is starting at 6 a.m.,” said Ball. “He has a plan to execute and ensures everything is ready when the crew arrives so the foreman can get them to work immediately. He is focused on the ultimate goal at hand, which is delivering a quality product.”
Sellers said he chose the industrial and management systems engineering program because he enjoys the human interaction the job provides.
“I’m more of a people person? the management part of industrial and management systems,” he said. “I also like the ever-changing nature of the projects I get to work on.”
Wherever he ends up after graduation, Sellers hopes to be “a key asset” to the company he will work for.
“I want to be ‘the man,’ if you can call it that? just continuously improving.”
CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon, Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.