The Charger Blog

Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Showcase Elevates Research and Fosters Industry Connections

The event brought together alumni who are now leaders in their fields and students who are working on innovative research, matching ideas and ingenuity while creating opportunities for students to network.

December 13, 2023

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Victhoria De Castro Lima ’25 M.S. with her poster.
Victhoria De Castro Lima ’25 M.S. with her poster.

While many of us might have tried to forget the panic buying at the start of the pandemic that led to shortages of critical supplies such as toilet paper and sanitizer, Sarthak Saxena ’25 M.S. is trying to better understand the situation. He hopes that learning more about consumer behavior and its impact on the supply chain can help prevent future disruptions.

Saxena came to the University from his home country of India to study engineering and operations management. He was particularly interested in learning about how operations differed between the two countries. As a Charger, he’s been conducting impactful research exploring the impact of consumer panic buying and stockpiling – and why it happens in the first place. As part of his research, he explored half a dozen different factors, such as media coverage, and how they impacted consumer behavior.

Sarthak Saxena ’25 M.S. presented research as part of the showcase.
Sarthak Saxena ’25 M.S. presented research as part of the showcase.

Saxena found an agent-based simulation model, which views customers as agents who can make decisions and interact with each other, would offer important guidance to decisionmakers such as retailers, policymakers, and supply chain stakeholders.

“My hope is that this will help people prepare for any future pandemics,” he said. “This project was a great experience for me. I explored myself as well, and the experience helped me to grow.”

‘I enjoy it’

Saxena recently presented his work to the University community as part of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Showcase. It brought together students, faculty, staff, and industry professionals, enabling them to share exciting ideas. Students such as Saxena presented their cutting-edge research posters and gave oral presentations while interacting with industry leaders and professionals.

“It’s an event that we think is going to create a forum to bring students, faculty, and industry leaders together to create opportunities for students to network,” said Kagya Amoako, Ph.D., interim chair of the University’s Mechanical & Industrial Engineering Department. “This could lead to internship and job offers for students and bring more talented students to the University.”

Kagya Amoako, Ph.D., welcomes Chargers to the showcase.
Kagya Amoako, Ph.D., welcomes Chargers to the showcase.

The showcase included alumni such as Magdalena Garcia ’15 M.S., who gave one of the two keynote addresses. An operations analytics manager for Sikorsky, Garcia told the Charger community that she enjoys “making things better.” Her pride in and passion for her work were evident as she discussed her role at Sikorsky and encouraged current students to consider their own roles in improving the world.

“I like what I do, and I like seeing things being built,” said Garcia, who hails from Poland. “My University of New Haven education gave me everything I have right now, and I enjoyed it very much.”

‘The whole experience at the University’

Joseph Leveillee ’08, who delivered the second address, shared his experience as a mechanical engineering student at the University. Leveillee, who has worked in the medical device industry for nearly two decades, is now director of quality for RevMedica, a startup company. He has previously worked for companies such as Medtronic and Cooper Surgical. He also holds a patent for a design that makes medical devices safer (the Reliatack shipping clip).

Leveillee shared highlights of his time as a Charger, encouraging current students to make connections and to enjoy their time at the University. His most memorable experiences include serving as a teaching assistant, working on campus, and meeting his wife. He also had a job lined up at Covidien six months before graduating.

“Figure out what major fits what you’re most passionate about,” encouraged Leveillee, a member of the University’s Mechanical Engineering Academic Advisory Board. “Do things outside of your studies that build your character. Engage with the whole experience at the University, not just what you’re doing in the classroom.”

Magdalena Garcia ’15 M.S. discusses her role at Sikorsky.
Magdalena Garcia ’15 M.S. discusses her role at Sikorsky.
‘Setting me up for a good future’

The showcase was an exciting opportunity for students to learn from alumni, as well as to share with them what they’ve been working on at the University. Students presented their research exploring a variety of pertinent topics, including AI as well as 3D printing and functional polymers.

Victhoria De Castro Lima ’25 M.S. was among the students who presented their posters at the event. As a commuter, she noticed that the traffic patterns at the University varied considerably, and this piqued her curiosity. She had many of her classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, and she collected and analyzed data on traffic patterns in 15-minute intervals on Mondays and Saturdays. She gained a deeper understanding of the busiest days and times of the week on campus, enabling her to predict traffic and how full the parking lots would be.

“I fell in love with data analysis, and it’s so interesting to be able to make data-driven decisions,” said De Castro Lima, a candidate in the University’s graduate program in industrial engineering. “This event was a great opportunity to present my work for the first time.”

For Saxena, who studied supply chains and consumer behavior, the showcase was an exciting way to share what he’s been working on as a student, as well as the impact he hopes his research will make. He’s now considering publishing his work.

“There should be enough for everyone, and everyone deserves to have the basic necessities,” he said. “At the University, I like that there are students from all over the globe, and we learn how to bring the best of all of us when working on a team. You don’t find that just anywhere, and it’s setting me up for a good future.”