March 2, 2023
Congratulations to the 2023 Bagley College of Engineering Student Hall of Fame class!
Over the last few days, we have been highlighting each SHoF recipient.
The new members participated in a Q&A reflecting on their time at Mississippi State.
What is your name, age, classification and major?
Shaylin Williams, 25, Ph.D. candidate, Engineering Education
What year did you begin studying at MSU and when is your expected graduation date?
I began studying in May 2020 and my expected graduation is August 2023.
Why did you choose to attend MSU, and why did you choose an engineering field of study?
I chose to attend MSU because I felt like the people on campus had a genuine interest in me coming to the institution and a continuous commitment to ensuring my success once I got here. I felt embraced by everyone and was able to be myself instead of trying to fit into a mold. I chose to pursue an engineering graduate degree because I am passionate about diversifying higher education faculty, especially in STEM and engineering. Majoring in engineering education at MSU allowed me to work with a program that is near and dear to my heart, the Summer Bridge Program, and engage in meaningful research and service.
What are your favorite campus organizations you have become a part of?
One of my favorite organizations is the Graduate Student Association. I currently serve as the Technology and Marketing Coordinator. The GSA has allowed me to meet so many amazing graduate students and professionals from various departments. There is a great balance of educational, social and wellness-focused events. It is a great way to form community and get involved as a graduate student.
Though it is not a student organization, I would be remiss if I did not mention how instrumental the Office of the Graduate School at MSU has been in my educational journey. The staff has become my family away from home, and they are always there to support me in any way they can.
What has been your favorite course you have taken at MSU and why?
While I have had many enjoyable courses at MSU, one that stands out to me as a favorite is student development theory. I chose this course as a graduate elective, but I still use information from it today. I believe as engineers it is important to take non-engineering courses to get new perspectives and tools to approach engineering work in novel ways. Specifically, student development theory taught me many theories and perspectives that I use when writing my dissertation and can use later in an academic career. Anyone can teach courses if they know a subject, but taking an active interest in students' holistic development is important to me as an aspiring faculty member.
Which course has been your most challenging at MSU and why? What was something you learned about yourself after taking that course?
My most challenging course was industrial quality control. I experienced some difficulty because I had never used R or RStudio and am not the strongest programmer. I learned that new software is not as difficult as it seems if you understand the thought process behind why you are using it. Luckily, my instructor was great at explaining what we were trying to do, and I was able to work through problems with a better understanding of the end goal. I also learned that I am capable of doing things that may initially seem daunting and that my educational training at MSU prepared me to succeed in any subsequent course.
What is one thing you have learned, related to engineering, during your time in the Bagley College of Engineering?
I've learned that engineering is what I make it. I used to think engineers were in a box, bound by industry jobs in their disciple. In undergrad, I was introduced to opportunities in graduate school. In graduate school, I was introduced to an all-new set of options like educational consulting. In occupations all across the globe, people seem to respect you a little more when you mention that you are an engineer. They appreciate the value of our transferrable skills, technical skills and ability to problem-solve a wide range of societal issues. I have learned to never put myself in a box and always follow the path that is best for me.
How has MSU and specifically the Bagley College of Engineering prepared you for professional life after college?
MSU engineering really allowed me to engage in professional development and scholarly activity that will help me thrive in my future endeavors. More specifically, I have had several opportunities to improve my written and verbal communication skills and learn the ins and outs of academic roles. I appreciate the opportunities I have had to work with incoming freshmen scholars and engineering seniors. The interactions I had and the information I gathered from these groups provide a strong foundation to work with any engineering department or any population of college students. MSU engineering has even allowed me to attend the Frontiers in Education conference in Uppsala, Sweden, where I networked with scholars from all over the world and shared my research.
More generally, the MSU community at large has allowed me to further hone my professional skills as a current participant in the Preparing Future Faculty Program hosted by the Center for Teaching and Learning. Furthermore, I have been able to serve as a resource for prospective graduate students by being a panelist/guide for several preview days for underrepresented students and past participants of programs like the Ronald E. McNair Program and applicants of the GEM Fellowship. As a past participant in many of these programs, I know how transformative they can be when intentionally designed. By interacting with prospective students, I have gained insight into what is most important for upcoming students and can incorporate this into my professional goals in academia.
What are your plans after graduation?
I plan to work in academia either as a teaching faculty member or with engineering support programs. My love for higher education and universities started in undergrad and has continued to be nurtured at MSU. I am excited to work with future generations of engineering students. My main goal is to ensure that programs and departments are cultivating the best possible experiences for students inside and outside the classroom. I enjoy working with students and hope that I can be an impactful mentor and educator soon.
What will you miss most about MSU after you graduate?
I will definitely miss my friends and mentors. I have met so many great people in the Bagley College of Engineering and across Mississippi State. I hope that wherever I end up, I meet people as welcoming and supportive as the people at MSU. A part of me will miss being a student for the last time, but as a professional, I will remain a lifelong learner and always be willing to grow and acquire more knowledge.