2015 ISD Alumni Award Recipient

The Michigan Engineering Alumni Award is presented annually to accomplished Michigan Engineers who exemplify inventive leadership, smart risk taking and broad impact. We are pleased to announce that Dr. Ryan Pereira is the recipient of the 2015 Alumni Award from Integrative Systems + Design (ISD).

Ryan earned his doctorate in manufacturing engineering in 2010 with ISD through the Program in Manufacturing led by program director, Dr. Judy Jin.  He is currently the vice president and general manager of the global company CWP/Scott Fetzer, a division of Berkshire Hathaway, which owns a portfolio of companies in diverse markets. Ryan joined Scott Fetzer in the company’s medical devices segment and has since taken on more business development responsibilities, including work on several pending utility and design patents.

Ryan was drawn to the field of engineering because he felt it offered “a diverse range of career opportunities.”  He completed a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Trine University and a master of science from U-M Dearborn.  He soon realized his passion lay in the intersection between business and engineering, which prompted him to pursue his doctorate in manufacturing with ISD.  He was initially interested in ISD because, he said, “the multidisciplinary flavor was very attractive.”  As a student, Ryan studied under Dr. Jeff Liker, an award-winning professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering.  His dissertation studied lean product development in several automobile companies.

As his doctoral studies moved forward, Ryan quickly realized there was a major difference between succeeding as a master’s student and succeeding as a doctoral student.  “I had no research skills and I could not decipher if one piece of research was better than another,” he says.  To address that knowledge gap, he ensured he made regular progress on his research, and he attended and presented at several research conferences.  He has continued his role in the academic community as an adjunct faculty member at Grand Valley State University, and currently teaches at Kent State University.

On top of the normal stressors of graduate school, Ryan also balanced the demands of working full-time and raising a family with his wife, which meant his grad school experience was far from typical.  Meeting all of those responsibilities was challenging, particularly as he managed multiple deadlines at work and at home.  One pro, he notes: “I never had to worry about eating ramen noodles for the fifth time.”

Ryan continues to be a researcher and innovator in his work.  When his company’s relationship with a top client was recently threatened by a competitor’s new product, his team sought to improve their own model.  This led Ryan to re-assess basic assumptions and approaches, which allowed for new ideas and innovations.  Ultimately their work resulted in a product that was 30% lighter and smaller and secured his company’s continued relationship with the client.

For future engineers considering graduate school, Ryan suggests focusing on return on investment, particularly if a person is lucky enough to have employer-funded graduate school opportunities.  When it comes to program choice, he has this advice: “In the engineering and business fields it is worth picking the very best possible program instead of a convenient one.”ISD will present Dr. Ryan Pereira with the 2015 Alumni Award on Friday, October 9 at a special luncheon ceremony.

Update June 2016: Dr. Ryan Pereira has recently joined the Michigan Engineering Alumni Board as the ISD representative.