MHEFI Scholarship Winners: Where Are They Now?

Choosing—And Achieving—A Perfect Path: Kirstin Olesen, University of Oklahoma

Kirstin Olesen has a very challenging job, but her accomplishments in college suggest that she’s more than up to the task.

Olesen, 23, is a software engineer for Boeing working in the B-52 Weapons division, where she focuses on systems work such as writing requirements and tests for software programs and maintaining the related documents. She said she isn’t allowed to go into specifics about the program but enjoys the work and is glad that it’s helping the U.S. military.

It might sound like a lot of responsibility for someone one year removed from college, but Olesen was no ordinary student. She was the valedictorian at Noble High School in Oklahoma and as a senior in 2014 was named one of 100 Oklahoma Academic All-State Scholars. Her grades earned her several college scholarships, and she went to the University of Oklahoma, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering, graduating in 2018 with a perfect 4.0 GPA.

“When I started college, I knew that I wanted to graduate with a 4.0 and walk the stage wearing the medallion given to all who do,” she said.

Olesen said she became interested in the material handling industry through her high school calculus teacher, who had been an industrial engineer before going into teaching.

“She told us about her previous engineering work, and my interest was piqued,” Olesen said. “The combination of technical work and problem solving sounded perfect. Going into college, I still wasn’t sure what career I wanted, so I chose the hardest major that I thought I could want to turn into a career: industrial and systems engineering. The classwork intrigued me, and I never changed my major.

“I love the concept of improving processes to improve outcome and minimize effort. There are so many systems embedded in society that we all rely on. I wanted to be a part of that.”

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