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Shelby Koskela: Turning Complex Challenges Into Structured Answers

Shelby Koskela is the rare person who never shies away from a complex math problem. Koskela, 24, tutored students in math while earning a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, with a minor in mathematics, at the University of Minnesota. And unlike most of us, she actually does use her math skills in the real world, working as a quality engineer for Minneapolis-based Minco Products Inc., a provider of industrial temperature sensors, heaters and control systems.

“I like math because it’s very structured, but there are several ways to get to the same answer. So when you have a problem in the real world, if you turn it into a math problem, it’s more structured and you can take a different approach to it,” she said. “Once you have that mathematical answer, you can turn it into a real-life solution.”

Koskela got an internship in Minco’s quality engineering department while in college and returned to the company in June 2017 upon graduation. When a customer wants to order a product with certain specifications and quality requirements, she helps determine whether Minco can meet those specifications through its processes and products. On the back end, she helps implement corrective and preventive actions when there are issues with a product’s quality.

Koskela said she is helping Minco establish several processes to deal with production issues, including a “corrective and preventive action process” and a “material review board.” When a customer returns a product or when Minco identifies a suspect or nonconforming item on its manufacturing floor, the corrective process calls for documentation, containment, step-by-step production analysis, root-cause analysis and preventive action.

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