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The Undergrad Journey of Emi Diaz
Emi Diaz
Industrial Engineering senior Emi Diaz, a student at the Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston.
Industrial Engineering senior Emi Diaz, a student at the Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston.

The following student experience was written by Emilia (Emi) Diaz, an Industrial Engineering senior at the Cullen College of Engineering and the president of the UH student chapter of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers. If you have an account you'd like to share about your educational journey, we'd love to hear it! Please contact Stephen Greenwell, sjgreen2 [at] (sjgreen2[at]central[dot]uh[dot]edu).

My name is Emilia (Emi) Diaz, and I was born and raised in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Growing up, I had the opportunity to live in Mexico, in Florida, and finally, in Texas. I transferred from Houston Community College to the University of Houston in 2018.

I have been fortunate to have an older sister, Paula Diaz, who also pursued a STEM career. She paved the way for me as she studied Petroleum Engineering at UH and volunteered a lot of her time to the Society of Hispanic and Professional Engineers. From early on in my college career, I got to see how important it is to give back and how STEM can empower those communities that don’t have the same access and opportunities I did growing up.

I knew that I wanted to make an impact early on, just like my sister did for me. I started my leadership journey when a group of students from HCC and I founded one of the first SHPE chapters in a community college. The rest of the executive board and I inspired many students to pursue a four-year education and exposure to different industries and majors in STEM.

As soon as I transferred to UH, I knew I wanted to continue making an impact. This inspired me to run for SHPE Jr. Chair of the SHPE-UH chapter. This experience opened my eyes to how little information there is for the many opportunities available for K-12 students. My time as SHPE Jr. Chair pushed me to run for vice-president external of SHPE-UH. This opportunity allowed me to serve as the regional representative for all the external affairs of the chapter.

During the 2019 Spring career fair, I obtained my first internship with Daikin North American as an Industrial Engineering intern. This experience allowed me to learn about lean manufacturing as I was a part of different projects in the Kaizen team.

Later that year, I attended the SHPE national conference, where I decided to accept a co-op offer in the Spring of 2020 to work in the Technical Operations office for Delta Air Lines in Atlanta, Georgia. I was part of the Maintenance Repair and Overhaul team, where I learned so much about the business side of the airline industry.

For the summer of 2020, I accepted an offer from Cisco System’s Supply Chain Operation team as a Technical Intern. My experience allowed me to work in a cross-functional environment that involved different projects. I also was able to work in a case competition where my team took second place.

I enjoyed my experience so much as a Cisco intern that I decided to go back to the company for my last internship in the summer of 2021. This time I interned as a New Product Program Manager in the New Product Introduction projects. Once again, I participated in the case competition, where my team got first place. I fell in love with Cisco and with program management in the supply chain world, which is why I accepted my full-time offer with Cisco to be a Product Lifecycle Supply Chain Specialist.

Walking into my senior year and having had the opportunity to be a leader taught me a lot about teamwork, professionalism and mentorship. It opened many opportunities for me to explore different industries and network with many remarkable mentors I can still count on today. I decided to give all of that back to the IISE-UH chapter for my senior year.

I ran for President of IISE-UH to maximize the opportunities for Industrial Engineer students. I struggled to find my place in the prominent engineering organizations, since most of their members were Mechanical Engineering or Computer Science majors. In IISE, I found a community of people that have gone through similar successes and struggles. I have been able to apply everything I have learned from my other leadership experiences to grow the IISE chapter.

All in all, I would not be where I am if it was not for the many leaders that came before me. As I wrap up my last year at UH, I will leave knowing that being a leader has opened doors to be a part of outstanding leadership teams. These opportunities have allowed me to outshine my strengths and nourish my weaknesses as we all worked together to maximize opportunities and potentially change some lives, just like mine has.

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