Samantha Litherland, BS Industrial Engineering Technology ’18 (Purdue University), is a skilled maintenance technician at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing facility in Princeton, Indiana.
“In my department, we make the bumpers, sidestep, instrument panel and the back hatch of both the Toyota Highlander and Toyota Sienna,” Litherland said. “In our shop, it goes from plastic pellets to a fully assembled bumper or hatch.”
Litherland’s responsibilities include maintaining all equipment, including robots, molding machines, paint systems and conveyors.
“We work on something as small as changing a lightbulb to as big as a 3,850-ton molding machine!”
Question: What inspired you to complete your bachelor’s degree at Purdue?
Litherland: My job at Toyota doesn’t require me to have a bachelor’s degree but I know life has a way of changing our plans. I completed this program while working nights at Toyota. To say it was a long two years would be an understatement but, by getting that degree, I could leave Toyota and work at any manufacturing plant as a manager rather than going in at entry level.
Question: How has your Purdue degree helped you out?
Litherland: My Purdue degree has helped me a lot! I think more about how our management must deal with certain issues. I know that if I can fix a problem before it gets to them, then that’s one less thing on their plate. Also, the knowledge I have with process flow helps when implementing new processes.
Question: What advice would you give to a current undergraduate student?
Litherland: I would tell other students to go ahead with the Purdue program after completing a two-year degree for the knowledge and the experience. If they aren’t already with a company, it will allow them to go into a company at a higher level.