Graduate finds passion in improving workplaces | Binghamton News – Binghamton University

Nicole Dates ’23, MS ’24, has been involved in several extracurricular organizations and has done remarkable work during her time at Binghamton University’s industrial and systems engineering program. Her ambition has driven her to amass many accomplishments in her field.
In high school, engineering was a path that Dates didn’t imagine herself pursuing. It wasn’t until she was required to choose a class to fulfill an art and music elective that she began to explore her options.
“I wasn’t a very artistic or musically inclined person, so I took an engineering class,” Dates said. “At first, I was pretty intimidated by going into an engineering career, but after taking some time, I learned about a lot of different careers in engineering.”
Dates then discovered industrial and systems engineering, and she knew this would be her future career.
“Industrial engineering was something that I was really interested in because there are so many different career paths and companies you can work for,” she said. “You can really do any kind of industry with that degree.”
Dates is passionate about ISE because she uses technical solutions to help improve people’s lives.
“The central theme throughout it, no matter what kind of job you’re looking for, is making sure you’re making jobs safer and more enjoyable for people, having a higher accuracy rate or having the lowest cost,” she said. “I work in manufacturing, so I’ve done many different projects for making safety improvements to help make associates’ lives better. It’s definitely a rewarding career.”
Based on her hard work and achievements during her time at Binghamton, Dates received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence this spring.
“It was such an honor to receive the award,” she said. “I definitely couldn’t have done it without the support that I’ve gotten from the Systems Science and Industrial Engineering Department. I appreciate all the opportunities that I’ve received, but it’s really exciting to look back on my time as a first-year student and being so worried about being successful in engineering, then seeing myself now that I’m about to graduate with my master’s degree.”
Distinguished Professor Mohammad T. Khasawneh, chair of the SSIE Department at the Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science, praised Dates and her love for helping others.
“Nicole is a true renaissance woman who is gifted in myriad ways and always has a free moment to help her peers and her community,” he said. “She is well-known to many on our campus and has consistently demonstrated a commitment to academic excellence. Nicole is a remarkable young professional and already accomplished leader with great things ahead of her. We are immensely proud of her and her many achievements.”
Throughout her undergraduate career, Dates was heavily involved in several organizations. She spent a lot of her time in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), a group whose mission is to encourage women to meet their full potential in the engineering field. She served in leadership roles such as fundraising and treasurer. This year, as a master’s student, she served as SWE’s graduate advisor.
“It’s a really good group of women that you can confide in and find mentorship in,” she said. “As a first-year student, that was my introduction to getting ready for professional development-type topics, so not only is it a social organization, but there’s that professional aspect of it as well.”
Another organization where you could find Dates was the Institute of Industrial Systems Engineers (IISE), the world’s largest organization for ISE professionals. She helped organize workshops and conducted industry tours, and she served as the club’s president during her senior year.
“I got the opportunity to go to a simulation conference in New Orleans with three classmates of mine, which was really fun. It was an international competition, and we got third place, so that was really nice,” she said.
Dates is a member of two honors societies. In her senior year, she was inducted into Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honors society. She is also a member of Alpha Pi Mu, the industrial engineering honors society, where she served on the executive board as a graduate student this year. In addition to her multiple extracurriculars, Dates held a job on campus with the Watson Career and Alumni Connections office and served as an undergraduate course assistant for first-year engineering courses.
How did Dates juggle the various time commitments with schooling? Ultimately, it was a combination of impeccable time-management skills, gaining responsibility and a strong passion that made her successful. After joining SWE during her first year, Dates gradually joined more organizations and attained more responsibilities. Eventually, she found a lot of the organizations she was a part of in Watson were “interconnected.”
“Being passionate about whatever you’re doing helps you make time for certain things. I think it was also about being good at time management and taking time for yourself to enjoy being a college student,” she said.
This year, Dates interned at Tesla in Buffalo, N.Y., where she has been working on energy products.
“In the fall, I was an operations intern, and this semester I’ve held a completely different role as a new product intern. I help coordinate different line trials from any kind of deviation that comes from our design team, so I’ve really enjoyed that,” she said.

Last year for her senior capstone project, Dates worked with Locker Room 345, a charity started by Dick’s Sporting Goods to recycle clothes for the community. To better automate their donations system and have it run more efficiently, Dates and her team created a set ordering and order fulfillment system, and they brainstormed ways to get more volunteers and make it so teachers could place orders easily.
“We created a simulation to look at how we could best allocate volunteers to help pick up orders faster, and we also worked with a development team that was making a website for teachers to go in and place orders,” she said. “It was a really good project to work on and use a lot of different things that we learned throughout our time at Watson.”
Dates plans to start a job as a technical program manager in September.


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