Ambition, tenacity and a two-year SME Education Foundation scholarship helped Jeremy Kaszycki change his life, transforming him from a high school student undecided about his future to an assembly process engineer at Magna International, a Tier One automotive supplier.
Now 24, Kaszycki made looking for scholarships a ‘huge’ priority,” as he puts it. “I knew I needed to find a way to pay off college, so it was insanely important for me. I applied for anything and everything. I spent my breaks writing essays and filling out applications and doing Google searches. I can't tell you how many scholarships I applied for; it was a lot.”
Kaszycki’s persistence paid off when he received several scholarships, including the SME Education Foundation’s Myrtle and Earl Walker Scholarship. His SME Education Foundation scholarship helped support his junior and senior years at Bradley University, in Peoria, Ill., in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
At Bradley, Kaszycki majored in manufacturing engineering with a concentration in lean manufacturing, which he says showed him the value he could provide to a company. “It just made sense to me,” he says. “Lean is one thing that I am looking to pursue and specialize in long-term.”
That interest in and passion for lean concepts is evident in Kaszycki’s work at Magna’s facility in Belvidere, Ill., where he oversees the front and rear bumper assemblies of Jeep Cherokees. In that role, he draws heavily upon his expertise in lean manufacturing. “We apply a lot of continuous improvement activities to improve the overall efficiency of the line,” he notes.
A key part of Kaszycki’s job is making sure that all 60 of the stations within the two lines he oversees are producing at a specific rate. “If there's any bottlenecks within the process, slowing the whole process down, then I’m supposed to identify those and put in measures to fix that,” he says.
Kaszycki is working toward Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification by the end of 2020. He completed a certification class provided by Magna but was unable to finish a corresponding project because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which temporarily shut down the project as well as his progress.
“In regard to my career, I'm really focused on getting that green belt certification, because I think that would speak a lot to my skills,” he says. “And it'll give me credit for what I bring to my work.”
In addition to honing his engineering skills over the next few years, Kascyzki hopes to develop his leadership skills as well. “I think I'll eventually step into some type of managerial or supervisory role where I’m involved in a lot of launch projects,” he says. “One of the driving factors that will give me fulfillment is to help others, and bring the best out of others through leadership.”
In the meantime, he is writing a book to help college students in their quests to find scholarships. “I ended up found a system that worked for me, and I figured if I could put it into words and publish something that I can help others in the process.
“It's something every student needs to capitalize on and recognize.”