Volunteer Spotlight: Joel Brock, ’00, M.S. ’09
Brock serves as an alumni advisor for the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology
By Eva Richards
When Joel Brock, ’00, M.S. ’09, was growing up in Cary, Illinois, he was always interested in sports, math, science and music.
When it came time for college, he knew he would focus on the sciences, but the University was a more complicated decision.
“I was funding my own education and didn’t want to accumulate a lot of student loan debt,” Brock said. “NIU offered a great industrial engineering program that is on par with others in the state at a very affordable cost.”
Brock spent his first two years at a junior college before transferring to NIU’s College of Engineering and Engineering Technology.
“I was a transfer student to NIU and, while missing out on living in the dorms and some of the freshman and sophomore experiences, I quickly found a home and an inclusive group with the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering,” he said. “I am still friends and keep in touch with many of the folks from my class, as well as the faculty and staff from the college.”
Brock chose industrial engineering because of its bridge between technical and business-oriented disciplines and the fact that he could stay engaged in the work that takes place on the front lines. After more than two decades in the industry, he still loves the unique opportunity to measure and find value in operations that deliver sustainable productivity improvement.
Since earning his bachelor’s in industrial engineering, Brock has worked at four large companies, making his mark along the way.
“I have had four career stops—UPS, FedEx Freight, Sears Holdings, and West Monroe,” he said, adding that he earned his master’s in industrial and systems engineering from NIU in 2009. “As a partner at West Monroe, a national management and technology consulting firm headquartered in Chicago, I am able to leverage my industrial engineering background as a business and technology consultant.”
After accumulating so much high-level real-world engineering experience, Brock finds joy giving back to NIU engineering students. He previously served on the college’s Engineering and Technology Alumni Society and the Industrial and Systems Engineering Advisory Board. In this way, he was able to give back to his alma mater who gave him his start, while helping students who are just beginning their education and careers.
“I help represent alumni during recruiting events and talk to incoming and potential transfer students,” Brock said. “I help lead an alumni group from the department of industrial and systems engineering, and the volunteering keeps me connected to other alumni, as well as the professors and current students in the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology.”
Brock notes that the advisory board for the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering remains especially meaningful to him.
“As an alumnus of the program, we are brought together once per year to hear about the current strategy and direction of the department,” he said. “We also help inform and educate the department about what skills and training is in demand for graduates as they enter the workforce.”
Brock finds this work fulfilling because he sees how many graduates from the department have gone on to have remarkably successful careers.
“The education, mentoring and experiences we received at NIU helped ready us and contributed to the people and professionals that we have become,” he said. “Giving back helps keep it a virtuous cycle and provides resources to each next generation of students.”