Where Are They Now?
Catching up with an MHEFI Scholarship Recipient
, OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY
In high school, Bailey Whitman Bonjour was such a talented math student that she studied calculus, trigonometry and advanced algebra at the local junior college. Math wasn’t her favorite subject, but cutting class wasn’t an option since her mom was the professor.
It wasn’t until Bonjour began studying industrial engineering in college that her view of math changed. Instead of seeing math problems as “just some exercises that you need to go through,” she recognized math as an invaluable tool to solve real-world problems and make data-driven decisions.
Being a math whiz certainly comes in handy in her role as a business analyst at Webco Industries, a manufacturer of steel tubing.
Bonjour, 27, makes Excel dashboard tools that allow the company’s various groups to track their key performance indicators in real time. She’s also using data, including job-satisfaction surveys from workers, to improve employee retention.
Bonjour switched to that role last spring after almost three years as an industrial engineer, where her math skills also proved useful every day. She analyzed data to look for process improvements, cost savings and ways to reduce the manpower needed for production. Using predictive analytics, she also worked to optimize procurement and labor schedules based on product demand.
“In both roles, it’s applying math to everyday situations,” Bonjour said. “I’ve always felt that math is kind of its own language, and I get to translate it—whether it’s a business process or a production process—into mathematical factors.” Using those numbers, she can arrive at a result that will help Webco’s business leaders “make good decisions that are based on facts and mathematics,” she added.
Born in Midland, TX, Bonjour grew up on a ranch that produced cattle, wheat and cotton. After getting a taste of college-level classes in high school, she attended Oklahoma State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering and industrial management and a master’s in industrial engineering.
Bonjour’s undergraduate research project involved helping Dr. Sunderesh S. Heragu produce the fourth edition of “Facilities Design,” which covers the “proper design, layout and location of facilities,” according to its Amazon book description. She was tasked with researching conveyors, forklifts, palletizers and other material handling equipment to ensure that the new edition reflected the latest technology.
As a graduate student, Bonjour won a scholarship from the Material Handling Education Foundation Inc., which has awarded more than $2.5 million in scholarships and grants since its inception in 1976. The Material Handling Education Foundation, Inc. (MHEFI) is an independent charitable organization dedicated to supporting the study of material handling, logistics and supply chain, exposing students to the many career opportunities in the industry.
More than 1,000 students and educators have benefited from MHEFI support, and for the 2022-23 academic year, the organization awarded 46 scholarships totaling $177,100. Bonjour said she’s grateful to have won the scholarship because it helped her to graduate debt-free, making life as newlyweds easier for her and her husband.