Student Spotlight: Emmanuel Miller Honored as the 2010 Work Abroad Student of the Year

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Emmanuel Miller, a fifth-year year Industrial and System Engineering student who graduates in August, chose to study at Georgia Tech for two primary reasons: its industrial engineering (IE) program and Tech’s strong global presence. Miller, who recognized his passion for travel as a child and for IE in high school, has taken full advantage of Tech’s resources in both areas. In 2007, Miller participated in the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology study abroad program, and just this past summer he spent three and a half months in Klingenberg, Germany, working with WIKA Instruments. As an ambassador to the Division of Professional Practice’s (DoPP) work-abroad and co-op programs, Miller enthusiastically shares his experience with other students. In recognition of his contribution to the program, his work performance, and his general attitude and responsiveness, DoPP awarded Miller one its highest honors, the 2010 Work Abroad Student of the Year. When asked what advice he would offer other students preparing to work abroad, Miller said “to take the risk of abandoning your comfort zone, but remain true to who are.  You will be quite surprised by the experiences you will have.”

To learn more about this well-traveled industrial engineering student, continue reading the interview that follows.

ISyE: What other advice do you have for students about working or studying abroad?

EM: Make friends. Build as many high-quality and lasting relationships as you can. The people that you meet and work with will have a tremendous impact on your experience.  Get rid of any stereotype that you may have by developing firsthand knowledge of your own. 

ISyE: What does it mean to be an ambassador of the co-op and work abroad programs?

EM: Being an ambassador of the co-op and work abroad programs is another enriching part of the professional practice experience here at Georgia Tech.  As a recent work abroad participate, it’s great to have the opportunity to share my experiences with other students who are preparing for a journey of their own.  Other students find it very beneficial to ask me questions or hear about my work aboard term.  These opportunities also give me the chance to reminisce.  Learning and growing from people and different cultures is a passion that I have been able to nurture through my study and work abroad experiences at Georgia Tech.  I’m excited anytime I have the opportunity to assist the Work Abroad Program continue the valuable contribution that it provide students.

ISyE: I understand that you wanted to participate in the co-op and work abroad program to gain work and international experience. Why is that important to you and how does that impact your major?

EM: I believe that developing relevant work experience through the co-op program has been a crucial part of my education. Moreover, participating in the work abroad program has allowed me to develop a greater appreciation for cross-cultural exposure and exploration. These experiences are important because they afforded me the opportunity to learn industrial engineering through significant practical work experience in multinational environments.

ISyE: What motivated you to want to work abroad?

EM: Working in another country had always been a goal of mine. I wanted to experience the type of cultural immersion that a work abroad experience provides.

ISyE: Tell me about your work abroad experience.  What were your responsibilities? 

EM: As a work abroad co-op, I worked in the Electronic Pressure Measurement Innovation group in WIKA Germany.  I led a team of three professionals to research and determine how to implement flexible circuitry into a current manufacturing operation.  During my term, I was responsible for:

  • Designing concepts for connecting a flexible printed circuit board to the three different types of sensors used for industrial electronic transmitters
  • Generating a flexible circuitry-sensor connection method to incorporate the new technology into the existing manufacturing processes
  • Negotiating with potential suppliers to fabricate flexible substrate designs which resulted in samples that could be tested in manufacturing operations
  • Developing testing criterion for examining the connection methods


ISyE: What was one of the most valuable life lessons you learned from working with WIKA?

EM: The most valuable life lesson I learned from my work experience with WIKA is the importance of collaboration.  I found that teamwork and engaging my co-workers was the most rewarding part of my experience. From a professional stand point, I was able to reduce my learning curve through teaming up with others. In a personal sense, I will always value the friendships that I was able to develop from my time in Germany.

ISyE: Did you speak German or did you learn it there?

EM: I did not speak German prior to my work abroad term; however I did take a class, and I learned some German abroad.

ISyE: Had you lived or traveled abroad prior to coming to Tech, and if so, when and where?

EM: When I was a child, I lived in Germany for three years. In that time I traveled to France, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. I also travel to Jamaica, where my father was born and raised, as well as Panama, where my mother was born and raised.

As a student at Tech, I had the opportunity to participate in the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology study abroad program for the fall semester of 2007. During that semester, I was able to travel extensively throughout southeastern China.

ISyE: As an IE major, what is your specific area of interest?

EM: One of the great things about IE is that is it very diverse. With that said, I find all the areas interesting. I find supply chain engineering and human-integrated systems to be the most appealing areas of industrial engineering.

ISyE: When will you graduate, and what are your plans following graduation?

EM: I plan to be working in industry when I graduate in August. Within three to five year of work experience, I will return to school to complete an MBA program.

ISyE: What do you read for pleasure, and what are you reading now?

EM: I enjoy reading biographies and self development books, but I usually find myself reading multiple books at the same time. I am currently reading The Conversation by Hill Harper, The Play of Your Life by Colleen Sabatino, and Strength Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath.

ISyE: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received and from whom?

EM: This question reminds me of a book I read, The Big Picture by Ben Carson M.D. One of the best pieces of advice I have received is [from this book]:

Even though I may develop my ability to the highest levels, there is only so much I can do. I have to have a plan of action, I have to be able to articulate the plan, and I need the skills to execute it. But there is always more help available. Once I do my best, I can trust GOD for the rest. . . .


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