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Graduate perspective on Academic Equivalency: Sarah Kawai, CSEP

Sep 27, 2022
Mrunmayi Joshi
Here is an interview with Sarah Kawai, a graduate from University of Detroit Mercy which talks about her experience and perspective as a graduate from the academic equivalency program. Happy SEPtember!


This interview was conducted in 2022. 

Q1. What is your current role/position?

» I am currently a 1D Fluids Engineer at Ford, where I own the 1D model for several engine systems.

Q2. What are your next career goals?

» I would love to try something completely new, but I know I want to focus on more MBSE driven projects.

Q3. What have you learned about systems engineering in school?

» It was really introduced to me in my Master's program. We focused on the fundamental concepts of systems engineering and systems architecture, and we covered a lot of real world case studies. What really hooked me though was learning SysML and about MBSE. We had the opportunity to build pretty complex system models, and we even got to collaborate as a class on one model. For our thesis, my team developed a new method of systems modeling called Alternative Based System Modeling that focused on moving requirements to interfaces so that alternatives could be easily swapped in and out.

Q4. What interests you about systems engineering?

» MBSE interests me. As systems become increasingly complex, and the breadth of knowledge required to design them increases accordingly, I don't see how we succeed without MBSE.

Q5. What motivated you to get SEP certification?

» My professor, Mike Vinarcik, was a huge motivation for me and he helped get the process started. I also realized that SEP certification was the easiest way for me to communicate the level of knowledge and experience I have, as well as my commitment to SE.

Q6. How did the academic equivalency program benefit you?

» If it didn't exist, I'm not sure I would have become certified. Even though I know I have the knowledge to pass the exam, I don't think another exam would have been high on my priority list right after finishing my degree.

Q7. How did taking courses under the academic equivalency program help you deepen your understanding of SE?

» Taking the courses let me go beyond learning about SE, and allowed me to actually practice it. As someone who learns best by doing, this really cemented a lot of concepts for me. It's also a lot easier to learn when you have other students to work with, and when you have professors to give you useful feedback.

Q8. What is your advice for students and research professionals pursuing SEP certification?

» I was lucky enough to basically stumble into an academic equivalency program, but if you have the opportunity, take it. Also, seriously, work on your references early. Life gets busy.

Q9. How can we reach out to you?

» You can reach out to me at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-kawai-4bb45351/

Know more about academic equivalency from here.
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