Industrial and systems engineering graduate found growth through internships, research

KENNESAW, Ga. | Dec 14, 2020

Mary Ogidigben
Mary Ogidigben

After graduating high school, Mary Ogidigben wasn’t quite sure where her educational journey would lead her next.

She knew that she liked mathematics and physics, but neither felt like they led her down the right career path. It wasn’t until her father returned home with a library book full of college majors that she found her calling.

“We went through every single major one-by-one until we found industrial engineering,” said Ogidigben, who graduates from Kennesaw State University this month with a degree in industrial and systems engineering. “It’s a field that combines all of my interests, and I decided right then it was the right choice for me.”

After completing her core classes at Georgia Gwinnett College, Ogidigben transferred to Kennesaw State with a renewed sense of direction. At her father’s behest, she made a point to familiarize herself with the faculty in the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology and to seek out opportunities to apply her studies in internships and through research.

Almost immediately, she was connected to Christina Scherrer, interim chair of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, leading her to apply for a transportation assistant internship at BNSF Logistics. After completing the internship, she would stay on board working part time as a transportation assistant while finishing her degree.

Later, after taking a statistics-focused class with Ahmed Alsharif, part-time assistant professor of industrial engineering, she was invited to assist him in a research project. Her mentor, associate professor Robert Keyser, would also tap Ogidigben for research projects, both of which have been submitted to the Kennesaw Journal of Undergraduate Research.

“Mary is an active learner, having applied herself both in the classroom and in research,” Keyser said. “She has done an exceptional job of writing and submitting two peer-reviewed journal manuscripts, and constantly serves as a source of inspiration for her peers.”

Since the fall 2018 semester, Ogidigben has been a member of the KSU chapter of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineering and is the current president of the Golden Key International Honour Society, which she credits for building her network and presenting professional development opportunities. Aside from the internships, student organizations and research, she credits her faculty advisors as being the most impactful aspect of her undergraduate experience.

“I don’t think I would have been in the position I’m in today if it weren’t for how hands-on my professors were throughout my undergraduate career,” she said. “When I talk to my friends who go to other universities, they are always shocked to hear how involved the faculty is here.”

After graduating, Ogidigben intends to pursue a Ph.D. in operations research and is in the process of applying to the Georgia Institute of Technology, Cornell University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Pennsylvania State University, among others. She aims to apply her education as an operations researcher in the healthcare industry.

“Mary is a star example of the intelligent, creative, hard-working engineers that our college graduates and I’m excited for her to grow and learn even more pursuing a Ph.D. next year,” Scherrer said.

– Travis Highfield

Photos by David Caselli

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit