Muhammed Javed, an international student from Pakistan majoring in materials engineering, took on a co-op opportunity with North American Stainless this past spring. North American Stainless has become one of the largest, fully integrated stainless-steel producers in the U.S. Javed’s current role within the company is to assure that they are achieving continuous improvement based on quality and productivity.
Javed’s big curiosity about how things worked is what ignited his passion for materials engineering when he was younger. “Since I was a kid, I was fascinated by aircrafts and used to wonder how can such a massive thing float in the air? What is it made up of?,” Javed said. He was the first member in his family to be interested in something that wasn’t related to art or business.
Javed first heard about the University of Kentucky through some of his cousins who at the moment were enrolled students. Javed then attended a college fair in his home city, Karachi, where he met Audra Cryder, UK’s Director of International Enrollment, they were able to talk about UK and the student community found on campus.
After being accepted into UK’s College of Engineering, Javed was grateful for being awarded the International Student Ambassador scholarship. “It gave me an opportunity to share my culture with other international students and also learn their culture,” Javed said.
Javed had many great research opportunities throughout his semesters but felt he was missing the hands-on experience and wanted to work in the real world so he reached out to UK’s College of Engineering Career Development Office, where students can get assistance in finding summer, part-time, co-op or permanent employment in their field of study.
Back in spring 2018, the College of Engineering Career Development Office held a career fair where Javed was able to connect with HR representatives and department managers from North American Stainless. They explained to Javed the co-op positions available, which matched what Javed was looking for in a job. After an interview with North American Stainless, Javed was officially offered the co-op position for the summer.
Javed had a great interest for working in material characterization techniques and studying material microstructures to see how it affects the mechanical and physical aspects of a product. He was able to see how theories he learned in his college courses were implemented in manufacturing industries like North American Stainless.
“Near the end of my co-op experience, I had a good understanding about different processing lines and what machines are installed in each line to maximize production and control the quality of the steel rolled through them,” Javed said. “I not only learned the engineering aspect of the department but also the business side of things, like how processing efficiency, on-time product delivery and shipping costs effects the value of the products manufactured there.”
Reflecting back on his experience as a UK student, Javed said UK prepared him well for the real world.
“UK has helped me enhance my critical thinking skills,” he said. “It helped me develop excellent work ethic skills which is a very important thing employers are looking for in a newly hired employee. I have polished my communication skills which is the most important factor in being a successful engineer. In addition, Javed said that while being an international student at UK, he noticed a significant improvement in his English-speaking skills and vocabulary.
“Being an international student, it is naturally not easy to find a job in a new country. You have to understand all the ins and outs of the job market which constantly change depending on the occupational demands,” Javed said. For this reason Javed was very grateful for his co-op opportunity with North American Stainless.
Javed’s experience with North American Stainless went so well that upon completing his co-op work, the company offered him a full-time position. Javed was excited to accept the job offer and begin working after graduating back in May.
“When I received my offer letter, it was like a dream for me, I was very grateful to everyone who helped me earn this position,” Javed said. “All my hard work did turn out to be rewarding for me.”
Some of Javed’s future goals include working for a manufacturing company, specifically in aerospace industry. Through his experience at North American Stainless, Javed was able to learn how to apply engineering knowledge in real-world contexts, how to critically think about the issues, make wise decisions and most importantly, how to develop leadership skills, he said, getting him one step closer to his future goals.