From Legos to Industrial Engineering: Ashley Chou Earns Top NCE Honor

Outstanding Industrial Engineering Student Ashley Chou

When she was a child, Ashley Chou loved playing with Legos and building model toys. And she loved taking things apart to see how they worked.

She never lost that child-like curiosity - a quality that’s served her well.

Ashley, now 20, is due to graduate from NJIT with a degree in industrial engineering. And the Newark College of Engineering (NCE) recently named her its Outstanding Industrial Engineering Student. She'll get that award during the upcoming NCE Salute to Excellence.

When she entered NJIT, Ashely knew she'd study engineering -- she loved math and science -- but she didn't know what kind.  She researched the different engineering majors and chanced upon industrial engineering.

Industrial engineering formerly appealed mostly to male students, but during her years here, she said, the ratio of women to men students has greatly increased. The major also appealed to her because it allows for hands-on work and social interaction.

“Although I enjoyed working with math and science I wanted to do more than just crunch numbers,” said Ashley. “Industrial engineering appealed to me as it is quite interactive in terms of dealing with people and improvement of industry.”

She picked the right major and she has excelled. She is a student at the Albert Dorman Honors College; she has continuously been on the dean’s list; and her grade point average is 3.7.  She has six scholarships and belongs to two honor societies. She also tutors high school and college students and works as a retreat counselor for the honors college.

Outside of NJIT, she belongs to the Big Sister/Little Sister program; works as a Sunday school teacher and has raised funds for cancer research. She also plays guitar during services at her Christian church. 

Her industrious at NJIT has jumpstarted her career. She has twice interned at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and is now an intern for Estee Lauder, in Oakland, N.J.  She works part-time in the industrial plant that fills and packages bottles of perfumes. It’s her job to ensure the efficiency of the plant’s industrial process. She likes the work and her co-workers and, after she graduates in May from NJIT, will consider working for Estee Lauder.  

NCE has a long-tradition of educating first-generation students, and Ashley is a perfect example of that. Her mother was born in Hong Kong and her father in Singapore. She grew up in Wayne, N.J. and attended Wayne Valley High School.

Her parents didn’t cater to gender stereotypes, such as the antiquated idea that engineering is for men. They wanted her to study what she liked, and more than anything, they wanted her to achieve social mobility. Given her myriad successes at NJIT, it appears that a brilliant career, and a better life, is firmly in her reach. 

“Both my parents were very encouraging of my desire to study engineering,” Ashley said. “They noticed early on, when I was a child, that I possessed traits that best suited me for engineering.  They were supportive of me because, after all, what they most wished for me was to have a better life.”

(By Robert Florida, University Web Services)