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Distinguished Student Q+A: Eoin Kiely

On April 28, Eoin Kiely, MSEM ’17, was presented the Outstanding M.S. in Engineering Management (MSEM) Student Award by faculty member Louise Strayhorn at Tufts University’s 19th Annual Graduate Student Award Ceremony.

From left: Rick Osterberg MSEM '17, Lecturer Louise Strayhorn, Eoin Kiely, MSEM '17

Eoin studied Process and Chemical engineering at University College Cork in Ireland. He has worked for Zenith Technologies as an automation engineer, a mid-sized technology company that specializes in supplying automation solutions to the Life Sciences, in Dublin, Ireland and the US.

Tufts Gordon Institute recently spoke to Eoin about his time in the MSEM program:

Why did you choose the Tufts MSEM program?

I worked with a lot of alums that were either actively in the program, or had just finished. I had already been thinking about doing a master’s degree, and the MSEM program seemed like a great opportunity to advance my career. I don't like remote learning - I wanted to be in a class of people, interacting with them and learning from them. Being in a cohort in the program has been one of the most valuable experiences for me at TGI. It helps to build relationships. I've already made many contacts and connections within my industry.

Which class has been the most rewarding for you?

I would say Learning to Lead with Louise Strayhorn. I learned a lot from that class - how to be a leader, and how to use self-introspection to lead. Business Strategy with Frank Apaseche was also fantastic – the way he structured the course to give us specific tools was very valuable. Also, Fundamentals of Economics with Partha Ghosh was rewarding - learning about financial accounting, business strategy, economics, and globalization - I got a lot of value out of that.

What advice from faculty will you take away from the program?

One important lesson I’ve learned is that presentations are important. Data isn't always the be-all and end-all. Good data is just as important as presenting the data with a good story. Relationships also matter – as engineers we are used to approaching problems as black and white. I’ve learned that ambiguity always exists, and there's no point in trying to avoid it. It’s a different mindset - don't try and solve everything. It's impossible. Try to put structures in place to make a move towards a positive outcome.

What does leadership mean to you?

I’ve always thought of leadership in terms of teamwork. In our first year in the program, we started talking about the difference between leadership and management - that was a distinction I wasn’t really aware of. I learned a lot from an assignment where we had to interview leaders in our company. I interviewed the CEO of my company about the requirement for emotional intelligence in leadership. Leadership for me is very much about being a team player and working to improve the entire team.

What do you think is the most important technological innovation or invention of the last 100 years?

I would say the internet, or the semiconductor. The semiconductor is really a transistor, so the transistor is really the invention that enabled everything else.

And in the next 100 years, what would you like to see in the world? What can science and engineering do?

I actually strongly feel that it's more important that people get to a good place before technology tries to solve problems. I think there's been a challenge recently with science and technology outpacing the moral capacity of the world to manage it. We almost have too much wealth at the moment in some ways. The world is not at a place where, if we develop better solutions, that as a civilization, we can actually manage them and use them to the fullest. For example, if flying cars were created tomorrow, I don't know if that’s a positive. It's positive for some people, but again, it causes more separation among groups.

Trying to solve global challenges through technical and engineering-based solutions is insufficient - you need to have more of a grassroots change in people's mindsets towards society. Giving people more stuff is not always the solution. While we advance technology, we should also let the world catch up.