Meet Alumnus Thomas Wardlow ’17

As part of his role in the Army National Guard, Thomas was an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operator in the Army, shown here flying a UAV.

Schuyler “Thomas” Wardlow ’17 graduated with a degree in Industrial Management and Technology with an area of study in Environmental Safety and Health. He’s currently a Safety Professional at Mass Crushing and Excavation in Milan, IL. His duties include writing and updating safety programs, and advising, heavy machinery operators in the workplace. The company does a lot of construction dirt moving work, and concrete crushing and recycling. While he was pursuing a degree at NIU, he also served in the Army National Guard and tells us about his experience.

“NIU offers a little bit of something for everyone, it is a larger sized university with a smaller college feel. There are a variety of dorms to choose from that can fit most student’s price range and buildings on campus are well kept and constantly renovated. I personally enjoyed the Greek life on campus and loved meeting students from different countries,” he said.

How did you first hear about the Department of Engineering Technology? “I was originally an engineering student and first heard of the Engineering Technology Department during an intro to engineering class during my freshman year. The class session was in the engineering building and explained to students that the Engineering Department was more theory and that the Engineering Technology department has a combination of theory and hands-on practice. The idea of hands-on practice was my style of learning, I met with an academic advisor later that week and transferred to the Engineering Technology department the next semester.”

In your opinion, what are the major advantages of Engineering Technology over other departments in the college? What distinguishes it from the others? “Hands-on learning, and access to guest speakers. My professors in the program had hands-on exercises such as using industrial hygiene instruments to measure air quality, sound levels, and light levels around campus. Additionally, my professors brought in a variety of speakers from organizations such as the Transportation Security Administration, Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the local fire department, Nicor Gas, and management from Chicagoland area construction companies. Some of the guest speakers would offer internship opportunities to the class.”

How do you evaluate the courses offered in the department? “Mostly above average, because after graduation I was able to use what I learned in the courses directly in the workplace, such as an understanding of levels of management, how to read and write safety programs in the workplace, and a general understanding of supervisory techniques.”

How do you describe the learning environment in the department? “Small class size, approachable professors, and hands-on experience.”

How do you evaluate the faculty members of the department? “Above-average to excellent, the faculty members were very approachable and would work around my military schedule. This was very important to my education as I had several times I had to miss weeks of school at a time due to my service.”

Which course and/or laboratory did you like the most? “Which course challenged you the most? Which one did you find more helpful in finding a job? Tech 437 Fundamentals of Industrial Hygiene, it was challenging, hands-on, and showed the technical nature of my career path.”

How did your learning experience in Engineering Technology help you find the job? How did it help on the job? “It taught me to conduct research on companies and not be afraid to ask plenty of questions. This led me to be able to have more confidence in my decision making at work. I learned how to research specifically from Dr. Mills, he taught me that there is always a way to find a credible reference and to question where information comes from.”

Will you recommend a degree in Engineering Technology to a high school student? Why? “Yes, because Engineering Technology is a combination of scientific theories and hands-on applications that can be related to a variety of career paths.”

Is there anyone in the department you would like to name and acknowledge? “Dr. Mills and Dr. Hogan. Dr. Mills taught me the importance of using credible sources and researching to problem solve. Dr. Hogan taught the importance of treating others with respect and how to work in a group setting to achieve common goals.”

What is it like to be a student and in the Army at the same time? “It’s time-consuming, some semesters I was required to travel a lot and would miss weeks of class at a time, but the Army values kept me motivated and I managed to graduate on time. NIU professors would work around my schedule and allow, extended due dates, and test rescheduling, based on my military schedule.”

Comment on the benefits of joining the Army? “The biggest benefit is real-world experience, I got to travel and have access to new and exciting unmanned aerial vehicle technology. These experiences let me see the world from a new perspective and allowed me to be more open to learning environments.”

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