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Systems Engineering Student of the Month: Grace Khouri

Grace Khouri is a senior at the University of Minnesota, located in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. She studies industrial and systems engineering with a minor in Spanish. In her free time, she loves doing anything and everything outdoors!
SWENext Systems Engineering Student of the Month Grace Khouri

How would you describe what you are studying to our readers?

As an engineer, I want to know how and why things work. I get to identify real-world problems and then brainstorm and carry out possible solutions. More specifically, as an industrial and systems engineer, I combine the business and engineering aspects of a project. I get to look at the big picture of a project along with the nitty-gritty engineering aspects.


How did you learn about systems engineering? Who introduced you to systems engineering?

I learned about systems engineering through the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). I had never heard about systems engineering until I reached college. My first year of college, I knew I wanted to be an engineer, but I had no clue what type of engineering I wanted to pursue. I was introduced to systems engineering by another SWE member who was a senior at the time. 

I remember that we had a major exploration event through SWE, and this SWE member was willing to meet up afterwards to answer all my questions. She was influential in my decision to pursue industrial and systems engineering. What really drew me into systems engineering was the ability to combine math and science with the more social aspects, such as project management. 


What were your hobbies like in high school? What were your favorite subjects? Did you have a favorite subject or hobby that helped you decide to pursue systems engineering?

Grace Khouri headshot
Grace Khouri, Systems Engineering Student of the Month

In high school, I played soccer and basketball. My favorite subject was calculus because it was challenging, and since it was challenging, it felt gratifying to finally understand a concept. 

My calculus teacher made all the difference, too. She showed us that calculus isn’t scary and is astonishingly useful in real life. She made the class super fun, and I looked forward to it every day. With that calculus class, my love for solving problems and math grew, which made it clear to me that I wanted to pursue engineering.


What has been the most challenging part of studying engineering so far?

The most challenging part so far is finding a balance between classes, social life, and self-care. My advice would be to find an outlet outside of classes where you can enjoy yourself. Otherwise, it’s very easy to get bogged down in all the homework. For me, my outlet is seeing friends at SWE and playing intramural sports.


What is your favorite part about studying systems engineering so far in college, as well as your favorite college class?

I have two favorite parts about systems engineering. First, I get to be creative! Despite what most people say about engineering, I get to think of new ways to approach a problem. Secondly, I’ve met so many amazing friends along the way in this major. Engineering takes teamwork, so you get to meet a lot of people. 

My favorite college class so far is the one I’m taking right now called senior design. It’s my favorite class because I get to work on a real-life engineering project with an actual company. 


When you graduate from college, what kind of job do you hope to get? What are your plans for your systems engineering degree?

When I graduate college, I am going to be working at Flint Hills Resources. You can find our products in things all around you ― from food packaging to asphalt to toothbrushes.


How do you hope to make a difference in the world using your engineering degree?

I hope to have a positive effect on the community around me by utilizing my engineering degree. I’m not entirely sure how that will look, but I intend to always work somewhere that will challenge me and help make the world a better place.


What advice do you have for our readers who may want to become engineers one day?

Be confident in your ideas and thoughts. You’re a lot more capable than you give yourself credit for.


Learn more about the SWENext program.


  • Michelle Stark

    Michelle Stark, P.E. is an electrical engineer design consultant at CDM Smith. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Norwich University and is a wife and mom of four wonderful children.