Andrew Kerr BSIE 2015

Emily Scott
4/15/2015

Heidi Craddock presents Andrew Kerr with the prestigious MIT Supply Chain Award.
Heidi Craddock presents Andrew Kerr with the prestigious MIT Supply Chain Award.
Andrew Kerr has a bright future ahead of him, but it’s the experiences and people at ISE that he doesn’t want to leave behind.

“I love Illinois so much and the experiences and people I’ve met here,” said the senior in Industrial Engineering. “Graduating is scary because I’ll be leaving all of them.”

It’s hard to say Kerr could have done more with his time as a student.

One of his final accomplishments at ISE was to win the MIT National Supply Chain award.

The MIT Supply Chain Excellence Award is given annually at each partner university to the most outstanding graduating senior supply chain and/or industrial engineering major.

The award entitles the winner to a tuition scholarship of $50,000 towards the MIT Supply Chain Management (SCM) Master’s Degree Program.

But this prestigious award is just the cap on an illustrious undergraduate career. Kerr served as the president of the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE), founder of the Sports Analytics Society, body team captain for the Illini EcoConcept Team, and he also had two internships, studied abroad, and is biking across the country this summer with Illini 4000.

On top of all that, he also has a job arranged for after graduation with General Mills.

Yet Kerr is quick to say that it’s not his accomplishments or extracurriculars that made his time at ISE so special, but the people that did them with and met along the way.

From Centerville, Ohio, Kerr chose to attend ISE after researching what industrial engineering really is. He has always been interested in math, science, and knowing how things work, and found that it fit his interests.

He chose ISE specifically because of the resources available, the reputation of the College of Engineering, and because of a scholarship he was awarded. Kerr likes to say it’s an “ivy league education with Big Ten fun,” which he described as the best of both worlds.

Arguably the biggest achievement of Kerr’s academic career was his managing of IIE as its current president.

IIE is a national organization with student chapters that provides industrial engineering students with professional, social, and service opportunities.

Kerr described it as “a way to promote and develop IEs as young professionals who can get away from the classroom and have fun with each other but then also develop them as people.”

Some of the professional opportunities IIE offers are certification sessions, company information sessions, area plant visits, and informational nights for things such as improving LinkedIn profiles.

The organization’s social events to get members more acquainted with their fellow IEs can involve a variety of activities such as barn dances, laser tag nights and ice cream socials.

To get students more involved and give them a chance to give back to the community, IIE offers several service opportunities throughout the year. In the past, the organization has held projects such as canned food drives. They also get involved with events around the community such as an engineering nights at local elementary schools.

Kerr stressed the service aspect of IIE as an important part to developing members as people.

“If you’re an engineer you’re going to be good, but it’s also a matter of doing good,” he said.

Last year, Kerr took on a new pursuit in being a founding member of the Sports Analytics Society (SAS), a project-based organization whose members work on sports analytics projects and then present them at meetings. The group holds “SASathons,” events where members work on projects together for long periods of time.

He said he started the organization because sports analytics is a growing and popular field in which a lot of people have become more interested.

Kerr said that after a year or two, with a more experienced membership base, the group will attempt to transition to consulting for varsity athletics at the University.

He sees SAS as a mark that he will get to leave on the campus as well as a rewarding experience. “It was really cool for me because it was something I was passionate about,” he said. “It felt like I was starting my own business.”

Kerr also served as a body team captain for the Illini EcoConcept Team, an organization that produces “practical as well as energy efficient vehicles for the Shell Eco-marathon Urban Concept competition,” according to their website.

Many fond memories came out of the experiences of driving to competitions and working day and night to make a fully functional car, Kerr said.

Another one of Kerr’s pursuits is being a member of Illini 4000, a group of students who bike across the country over the summer from New York to San Francisco, raising awareness and funding for cancer research along the way.

With this wide variety of extracurricular accomplishments, Kerr said he fails to see how extracurriculars can only be something on the side of academics.

“People call them extracurriculars, but for me, they’re really the curriculars,” he said. “I would almost define my Illinois experience by my extracurriculars.”

The biggest thing he said he took away from them was learning how to work with people.

“You can take 18 credit hours every semester, get a 4.0, and never know how to be an effective leader,” he said.

And not only has he learned to work with people, but he has learned to develop lasting friendships with the people he works with.

“Experiences are only as valuable as the people who you do them with,” he said.

Kerr described a memorable moment he had with fellow IIE members who were also his good friends. Driving back early in the morning from the IIE Regional Conference in South Dakota last year, they stopped by Badlands National Park to watch the sunrise together alone in the park.

“That was a pretty special experience,” he said.

Another fond memory he has with his peers is participating in E-Week, a week full of events devoted to engineering at Illinois. He and other IIE members enjoyed placing in competitions for the past two years.

“IIE is very competitive with our teams,” he said. “We put so much into that and care so much.”

Though extracurriculars were what made his experience at ISE unique, Kerr said IE classes such as Supply Chain Management with Dr. Douglas King peaked his interest. “I’m like a supply chain nerd,” Kerr said. “It correlates better with industry.”

Aside from his extracurriculars and academics, Kerr has had several employment and internship opportunities that have allowed him to grow as an industrial engineer.

He studied abroad in Chile in an industrial engineering program between his freshman and sophomore year before gaining internships with Rockwell Automation for the next two summers.

With Rockwell Automation, he first worked as a co-op from May to December of 2013, taking his fall 2013 semester off of school.

“It was an amazing experience because there are so many more things that you can learn while working that you can’t learn in the classroom,” Kerr said.

Working on problem-solving for local projects, he said he learned a lot about his own work ethic and project management skills and was able to improve both of these.

The next summer, he worked a step up the supply chain for Rockwell, working with materials and planning at their headquarters in Milwaukee, Wis. For this specific job, he said he developed a professional knowledge and skill set about the industry.

After graduation, Kerr has a job arranged as a manufacturing engineer for General Mills in Cincinnati, Ohio. He will be a part of a two-year program that will transition him between positions before he acquires a full-time role.

“There’s a lot of exciting things coming up,” Kerr said, referencing his graduation, his bike ride across the country with Illini 4000 this summer, and his career. He said the lifestyle change and leaving his close friends will be difficult, but he is “optimistic and excited.”

If he could give his freshman self any advice, he’d tell himself to not be afraid to take risks.

“That’s just good advice in general,” he said.

Recent News

Mun Choi, BSGE 1987, President of the University of Missouri System. Joseph Hartman, BSGE 1992, Dean of Francis College of Engineering. Jeffrey Linderoth, BSGE 1992, Professor and Department Chair, Industrial & Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison.