Factory girl

Representing the engineering, science and math alumni and students of Case Western Reserve University.

Emily Hwang, Junior/Senior Scholarship recipient. 

Factory girl

A co-op with a local manufacturer showed Emily Hwang why engineering matters on the shop floor.

Emily Hwang walked onto the shop floor of Bowden Manufacturing in Willoughby one day last fall and caught her breath. There was no one in sight who looked like her.


In fact, she was to find out, she was one of only a handful of women in the complex. So began her first co-op experience and her introduction to the industry side of engineering.


She took it in stride. “There’s only a few girls in my manufacturing classes, anyway,” she explained. “Everyone was so friendly.”


Helpful co-workers and hands-on training made for an enriching experience, Hwang said. She left the aerospace parts maker even more determined to become a mechanical engineer.


Alumni are helping to make that dream possible. Hwang, a second-year student from Ann Arbor, Michigan, received a Junior/Senior Scholarship that will help pay a portion of her tuition bill over the next two years.


“It will help so much,” she said. “I’m already taking loans.”


In addition to seeking co-op jobs, her budget strategy includes compressing her degree program from eight to seven semesters. The tighter time span means her busy schedule can become hectic. Still, she tends to join things.


“I have to,” she laughs, “or I’m missing out.”


A petite women with a bright smile, Hwang divides her time between her studies, her jobs, her sorority—Pi Beta Phi—and community service. As a CCEL scholar, she spends 50 hours a semester tutoring Cleveland school children through CWRU’s Center for Civic Engagement and Learning.


Factory work requires an extra measure of devotion. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday during the fall semester, she left campus after morning classes and drove 30 minutes east to Willoughby. She worked until 5 pm, then raced back for an evening class.


“It kept me on my toes!” she said. It also exposed her to CNC machining, quality control, autoCAD design and the myriad steps that go into building a product for the medical or aerospace industry.


Hwang’s love for engineering is something of a mystery to her family, which tends to produce business and medical professionals. She choose Case after several visits and is glad she did. Access to industry, she said, lends another level to a Case education.


While she doesn’t intend to seek out a blue collar career, she relished her time with an advanced manufacturer.


“I recommend it to everyone, oh yeah,” she said. “Just that experience on the shop floor—you see how it all works. You see what you can do with engineering and what you can’t do.”


Plus, that co-op lead to another—a summer with GE.


The Junior/Senior Scholarship program helps promising engineering and science students finish their Case degrees. To learn more, contact Janna Greer, Manager of Donor Relations, at janna.greer@casealum.org; 216-368-3647. If you wish to donate to the Case Fund to support scholarships, please click HERE.

“I recommend it to everyone, oh yeah. “Just that experience on the shop floor—you see how it all works. You see what you can do with engineering and what you can’t do.”

Emily Hwang

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