Economical Engineering: Adam Barksdale ’16 at Nissan
Adam Barksdale ‘16 is helping international automotive company Nissan save money without sacrificing safety or aesthetic appeal. The Wilson College of Textiles alumnus works as a design engineer in the Interior department with Nissan Technical Center North America (NTCNA), using both his major in Textile Engineering (with a concentration in Information Systems) and his minor in Industrial Engineering to figure out effective cost-cutting strategies for the car manufacturer.
In addition to his coursework, he prepared for his post-graduation career by twice serving as an intern with the Langley Aerospace Research Summer Scholars Project (LARSS) at NASA Langley Research Center, and completed internships with Technimark in quality engineering and Tempur Sealy International in global product development. He also worked as an NCSU Libraries Makerspace assistant, where in addition to helping patrons use the equipment, he designed and created 3-D items for display and streamlined printers’ instruction manuals.
What are your significant job responsibilities? What is a typical day like?
My current role in my department is serving as “window” for cost reduction ideas/activities. I track and facilitate cost reduction projects for my department, where our goal is to save the company money while maintaining Nissan customers’ demand. Additionally, this role involves substantial interaction with other groups at Nissan, along with our suppliers, to generate ideas.
A good description of a typical day at NTCNA, in relation to my role, would be on a Tuesday where there is a building-wide focus on cost reduction. I work with each of the engineers in my department to gather next steps for projects with big savings.
How did you find out about this position and what was the interview process like?
I had my first interaction with Nissan at the Fall 2015 Engineering Career Fair and it was interesting because this was the first year that they attended. I met my current senior manager, who is an NC State alumnus, and I treated my first impression as an interview. Later that year, I got a call from (staffing agency) Kelly Services to assess my interest in a long-term contract position at Nissan. Then, I had one phone interview and a series of in-person interviews at NTCNA in Farmington Hills, Michigan (greater Detroit metro area). After a year of working at NTCNA as a contracted engineer, I received and accepted an offer to become a direct employee!
What is the biggest difference between being in college and working in industry?
My best thing about working in industry is that I don’t have any homework! Once I leave work, I do whatever I want; this usually involves relaxing with my wife and our 8-month-old puppy.
What experiences did you take from COT that you can say have helped in your new career?
Textiles are applied throughout the vehicle in areas that are and aren’t visible to the customer. For example, many automakers apply tricot or jersey knit fabrics to the headliner; meanwhile, non-wovens are applied inside the dashboard to reduce wind noise.
Was there a professor at COT that made an impact on you? Who was it and why?
Dr. Jeff Joines had the biggest impact on me during my time at NC State…I was originally waitlisted in Textile Engineering. My parents taught me to be proactive to get things that I want, so I updated my resume and went to the Wilson College of Textiles in search of (someone who) could ensure that I get a position in textile engineering. After a couple of stops, I was redirected to Dr. Joines’ office so I could convince him this was the perfect major for me. Luckily, he gave me a shot and I made sure not to waste the opportunity.
What is the best thing about the city you now live in?
The summers aren’t too hot in Michigan. Also, this is a great area for people who love cars!
Do you have any advice about job searching that you can share with our current and future students?
In TE 105: Textile Engineering: Materials and Systems (instructed by Dr. Philip Bradford), the biggest thing that I took away from the course was the breadth of the textile industry and how it evolves to survive in the U.S. economy. I took that same mentality and applied it to my job hunt, where I dissected any job description and applied it to a course in Textile Engineering. Once you have an engineering degree, the possibilities are endless.