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Recent Graduate Says UTSI Provided ‘Tools’ Needed for Today’s Competitive Challenges

Andrew Thompson is convinced that his master’s degree in Industrial Engineering from The University of Tennessee Space Institute “directly prepared me with tools needed for today’s challenges of a vigorous and competitive business industry.”

He sees a recent promotion with Shaw Industries headquartered in Ringgold, Ga., as further evidence of the value of his graduate work, which led to the degree he received in December. Max L. Hailey, associate professor, who has headed the Institute’s Engineering Management program in recent years, was Thompson’s adviser.

“It was always a delight having Andrew in class,” Hailey said. “His work life and ‘war stories’ from Shaw enhanced the classroom discussion and the learning for both me and the other students. We look forward to Andrew being an ambassador for our program.”

In a letter to Greg Sedrick, professor of Industrial and Information Engineering at UTSI, Thompson wrote: “My recent job promotion to Plant Industrial Engineering Manager of Shaw Plant LM (Hardwood/Laminate) in Ringgold, came as a direct result of achieving my master’s degree. In particular, it stemmed from the direct work that I performed on my Capstone Thesis. Management saw my post-graduate education as a huge positive that immediately separated me in the interviewing process from other already well qualified candidates.”

An employee of Shaw plants for more than 12 years, Thompson has worked as Quality Engineer at Shaw Plant 24 in Winchester for the last six and a half years. Before that he worked at Shaw Plant 44 in Ringgold as a Senior Process Engineer. He will assume his duties at the LM plant in Ringgold April 24.

“Through work related to my master’s degree, I learned to develop statistically based business information systems to be used throughout the plant, but primarily in the Quality Control Department,” Thompson said.

He says that his experience at UTSI did not simply “supplement my bachelor’s degree but directly prepared me with tools I need. The master’s degree gave me a leg up on the competition, both on paper and more importantly in head knowledge.” He believes his latest promotion “will serve as a launching board for other opportunities for me in the Hardwood Division within the next three years.”

Sedrick, founder and director of The New Economy Institute, said Thompson’s story “is encouraging to those of us involved in the Space Institute’s Engineering Management program. His success reflects well on Hailey and the program he has helped nurture. Andrew’s project was on Shaw’s quality and reliability system. He used a database system to create a quality monitoring system.”

Thompson resides in Manchester with his son Jayden. Born in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., he is son of Hubert (Buck) C. and Jacqueline Thompson of Bone Cave in Van Buren County.