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Adam Barksdale ’16: Applying Textile Engineering Knowledge to Automotive Product Design

Adam Barksdale '16

By Kamilah Heslop

Degree B.S. Textile Engineering, Concentration: Information Systems, 2016
Job Title Driving Environment Engineer, Volvo Group Trucks
Current City Greensboro, NC
Hometown Hampton, VA

Why did you choose NC State and the Wilson College of Textiles?

I was born and raised in Virginia. I planned to apply to the top two universities in the state for engineering. Luckily, my aunt suggested that I apply to NC State, and I received two signs that I was destined to be in the Wolfpack. 

First, I received my acceptance email during my tour — where I fell in love with the campus. Second, my out-of-state tuition when combined with grants and scholarships was less than the cost of in-state tuition.

Who influenced you most during your time at the Wilson College of Textiles? And, why or how?

Professor Jeff Joines played a major role in my acceptance into the textile engineering program, and he was my favorite professor. His classes, Computer-Based Modeling for Engineers (TE110), Information Systems Design (TE 440) and Lean Six Sigma (TE 404), were highly influential because Dr. Joines tied his work experience into the curriculum.

What activities were you involved in as an NC State student and how did they impact your experience?

I was a member of the National Society of Black Engineers and held multiple leadership positions in Collegiate 100, which is an auxiliary organization of the 100 Black Men of America. Each group helped me build a network that supported me, socially and academically, throughout college.

Adam Barksdale
Originally from Virginia, Adam Barksdale ’16 fell in love with NC State during his campus tour. It was Professor Jeff Joines who played a major part in his entry into the textile engineering program.

What is your fondest memory of being at NC State and the Wilson College of Textiles?

My fondest memory was the 2015 homecoming game against Clemson on Halloween. It was a high-scoring game, and we got the best t-shirts that were skeleton and Wilson College of Textiles themed. Only the textile students knew why it was referred to as the Textile Bowl. That is my favorite NC State t-shirt and it has survived multiple moves.

How did your education at the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for what you are doing today?

Before I graduated, I was connected to multiple internships through the college’s Academic, Career and Student Services Office. Once I started my career, my first manager taught me that engineers should make data-driven decisions. Many of the courses I took at the Wilson College of Textiles supported that mindset and were helpful in analyzing data. Additionally, a background in synthetic textiles is helpful in designing injection molded parts. Essentially, the thermoplastics are extruded into a mold instead of a spinneret.

What advice do you have for current Wilson College of Textiles students?

In Textile Engineering 105: Materials and Systems, which is instructed by Professor 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.

Describe your career path.

As a design engineer, I have managed cross-functional teams in order to manufacture quality products. My first job out of college was at Nissan, where I was a project manager for cost-reduction molding in the interior trim department. Once I became familiar with the product, I designed a few components for the 2022 Nissan Frontier. In 2019, my wife and I moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, and I worked for Tempur-Sealy International as a new product development engineer. I was responsible for launching Sealy’s flagship product — Sealy Hybrid. 

In September 2021, I accepted an engineering task leader position at Volvo in the driving environment group since it aligned with my background in automotive, injection molding and textiles.