Whether it’s keeping an assembly line from shutting down or stopping the delay of products getting to their destination, industrial engineers apply the skills they’ve learned to prevent problems from happening every day. What if that problem was someone trying to punch you in the face? Such was the case for master’s student Carlan Ivey — four-time National Collegiate Boxing Champion.
Ivey began his engineering and, as it turns out, his boxing career on the day he arrived at the US Military Academy at West Point — where he would pursue a degree in nuclear engineering. But after he had completed several physical tests, including the pull-up exam, Ivey met Coach Ray Barone, head of the seven-time national championship men’s boxing team. Barone asked, “How would you like to become a national champ one day?” Ivey was not aware the academy even had a boxing team or if he would be a good fit. But, he knew it would be a great opportunity.
Ivey sees the similarities between boxing and engineering in the approach and response process. Many fans think boxing is a physical sport based on ability. But, the best boxers treat fights more like a chess match. Every movement and attack causes a reaction or counterattack from the opponent. If one can analyze and then predict their opponent’s moves, they can place themselves in the proper position to win. “When engineers face a challenge, they must analyze and predict the effect their actions may have on the situation,” said Ivey. “If engineers can take the right approach to a problem, they can knock it out just as boxers do.”
It was the friendliness of the faculty (especially ISE’s Brandon McConnell), staff and students that made Ivey’s decision to attend NC State easy. “We toured the campus, sat in a seminar, and enjoyed lunch at Mitch’s Tavern,” he explained. “The department and the faculty invested their time and effort into me, which went far beyond anything other institutions could offer. This effort was a clear indication that I should join the Wolfpack.”
After graduation, Ivey will continue his service obligation in the US Army. “After my first service role as an armor branch platoon leader, I aim to apply the knowledge gained in my graduate school experiences to the Army and the Department of Defense,” said Ivey.
Carlan Ivey is a first-year master’s student (minor in nuclear engineering) who received a Graduate Engineering Minority Fellowship from the National GEM Consortium. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a nuclear engineering degree in May 2019 and is an active-duty Army officer.