Connie Wong ’23 Explores All Aspects of Textile Science En Route to Nike Internship
By Sarah Stone
Just a few short years ago, Connie Wong was a first-year student at NC State with no idea what she wanted to study.
“I applied to NC State as an exploratory studies student, and I was flipping through the majors and saw the medical textiles concentration,” Wong says. “I thought that sounded interesting, so I decided to transfer into the textile technology program.”
Now, she’s gearing up for a supply chain internship at her dream company: Nike headquarters. In between, she’s gained hands-on experience with just about every aspect of textile science, from researching sustainability and smart textiles with faculty, to a product management internship with Hanes and a textile chemistry internship with Cotton Incorporated.
“I like how I got to experience so many different aspects of the textile industry, as it’s so big and diverse in terms of job opportunities,” she says.
When Wong walks across the stage in Reynolds Coliseum, it won’t be her last time in NC State regalia. She’ll return in the fall to earn a master’s in textile engineering through the Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s (ABM) program.
What research are you working on right now?
Professor Karen Leonas and I are working with a start-up company called Sortile that has developed a device that can determine fiber blend compositions of fabrics using NIR spectroscopy. This device will be useful for textile recycling, as post-consumer fabrics need to be first sorted by their fiber composition.
Our research focuses on how laundering, pilling, fiber loss and colorfastness on different garments (with different fiber make-ups) ranging from t-shirts to jeans impacts the fiber composition over time using their device, as well as the overall accuracy of their device.
I’m finding the project super interesting, and I’ve realized sustainability is definitely an aspect of the textiles industry I’d like to include in my career.
Tell us more about your internship with Nike. How do you think Senior Design helped prepare you for it?
It’s a supply chain engineer role. My main career goal right now is product development for athletic wear companies, so this is the perfect fit. I’m going to be working with the materials integrity team, which means testing product performance, improving textile test methods and standards and also developing manufacturing, quality management, and risk assessments.
I think Senior Design has been so helpful, because we learned how to conduct preliminary research on our topic and continue the product development process all the way through prototype development and physical testing. It showed me all the effort that needs to be put into creating a prototype, such as using different labs here at the college and effectively collaborating with my team to create the best prototypes possible for our sponsors.
Who has influenced you most during your time here?
Definitely Professor Tushar Ghosh. He was initially my undergraduate advisor, and then I took two courses with him and I also did a bit of research with him, so I got to know him really well.
He’s just super supportive. You can tell that he really cares about his students, and I always ask him for advice in terms of academics and careers. He’s very knowledgeable about the textiles industry. He also convinced me that grad school is the right next step for me.
What advice would you give your first-year self?
Do not be afraid to ask questions and do not be afraid to ask for help or advice from professors. They are here to support you both academically and personally.