Christopher Gehrke

Written By Nick Zhang and Luke Kim

April 1, 2022
Christopher Gehrke is a fifth-year student at Northeastern University graduating May 2022 with a combined bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering. Scroll to read more!

Christopher Gehrke is a fifth-year student at Northeastern University graduating May 2022 with a combined bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering.

Christopher started at Northeastern University knowing that he wanted to study in a program related to applied mathematics. As a student in the College of Engineering, Christopher had the opportunity to learn about the various engineering majors that Northeastern had on offer. Industrial Engineering stood out among the other programs because of the emphasis on strategic problem-solving using data. Christopher enjoyed finding the best pathways to solve industrial engineering problems, which reminded him of the puzzles that he did growing up in Southeast Pennsylvania. Christopher has also been involved in academic research while at Northeastern. During his freshman year, Christopher worked as an undergraduate researcher in an electrical engineering lab and focused much of his work around MATLAB. While his work at this lab was not explicitly what he was interested in pursuing, it served as critical work experience and exposure to academia.

Christopher is an active member of Northeastern community activities which include the Pep Band for which he plays tuba and NUStage and NUDANCO for which he completes lighting design, the latter of which was a unique way for Christopher to apply engineering and artistic skills together in an application separate from his academic studies. Christopher’s favorite show that he worked on was NUStage’s production of Cabaret in Fall 2018, and he even went on to do lighting design for community theaters in Minneapolis and Boston.

Christopher first learned about the Galante program when speaking with Professor Beverly Kris Jaeger-Helton. Christopher was drawn to Galante’s focus on communication and soft skills development which differed from his data-driven interests in industrial engineering. Christopher then began attending Galante events as a second-year student. While he was not yet eligible to be an official member, attending events early helped confirm his interests and involvement in the program. One event that had an impact on Christopher was Boston University Professor David Marino’s guest speaker event. This seminar introduced improvisation games to develop communication skills. David Marino’s creativity and engagement drew Christopher closer to the program, and soon after his acceptance into the Industrial Engineering BSMS Program he officially joined Galante.

Christopher is now a leader amongst his cohort as Research Coordinator. His primary responsibility entails alumni interviews to determine where Galante’s value lies and where improvements can be made. Like Christopher, many alumni have found that the most valuable skills that Galante helped develop are communication and networking – skills that traditional engineering programs cover in a limited capacity.

In addition to his professional development with Galante, Christopher has had three professional co-op experiences. His first co-op was at Johnson & Johnson as part of the supply chain team. His project was to ensure that Target had enough Tena adult diapers and Visine products in stock, and he was responsible for maintaining accurate and timely data for non-technical teams. He also had the opportunity to train in Lean Six Sigma.

For his second co-op experience, Christopher wanted to find an opportunity that was more industrial engineering-focused rather than tangentially focused like his first co-op, and it was at Disney where he would get this opportunity. Christopher worked with Disney’s frontline operations staff as well as technical staff and gathered and analyzed data to improve the guest experience. One unique project experience was when he was charged with increasing utilization and ridership of Millennium Falcon’s Smuggler’s Run. To accomplish this goal, Christopher had to understand all aspects staff member ride responsibilities as well as the user’s experience by working on the ride and talking to guests. Christopher loved this experience because he was able to apply the skills he learned in class and with Galante at a company that valued optimization and user experience.

During his sophomore year, Christopher started working part-time at the Healthcare Systems Engineering Institute with Professor James Benneyan. Christopher was tasked with finding tools to improve healthcare quality and experience. A significant project that Christopher worked on was modeling tobacco usage as a pandemic. He presented this research at the IISE’s Healthcare Systems Process Development conference and once the COVID-19 pandemic started, applied his model to his research and even had a paper published (DOI: 10.2196/24292). He would continue to work with Professor Benneyan while he was not on co-op. Christopher learned that he loved working in the healthcare space, but preferred more practical implementations, and for his third co-op Christopher joined Boston Children’s Hospital for the Enterprise Project Management Office. Christopher worked as an internal consultant and helped optimize the hospital’s functions. Christopher enjoyed his experience at Boston Children’s and realized he wanted to work in the healthcare space in the future.

After graduating this May, Christopher plans to return to Disney in Anaheim to work as an Industrial Engineer. While his ultimate goal is to return to the healthcare industry, he believes that with Disney he will be able to develop his skills more optimally as an industrial engineer.

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