Engineering Alumni Spotlight: Crystal Cristescu

Crystal CristescuCrystal Cristescu (née Nasser), BSEE ’06, hit the ground running on her career right after graduating from Wayne State, spending more than a decade at Siemens before transitioning to Schneider Electric, where she advanced from hardware engineering manager to her current role as a business transformation leader. An optimal blend of engineering expertise and soft skills, combined with a desire to break the proverbial glass ceiling for women and underrepresented groups, sets her apart as a leader, innovator, mentor, advocate and role model.

 

Can you please describe your career path?

What a journey! You hear of climbing the corporate ladder; for me a better analogy is the jungle gym (also because I'm a child at heart). I've worked for two wonderful Fortune 100/500 companies, Siemens and Schneider Electric.  There has never been a dull moment with seven roles in 14 years in management, operations, sales, engineering and customer care.

 

Describe the ways you’ve stayed connected to WSU since graduation.

Living in Chicago, I was surprised to find a large alumni community. I attended a couple events in years past, hearing the vision of WSU as a whole and more specific engineering events networking with Claire Brender. More recently I started to volunteer, this being my second semester, in the Industry Mentor Program. I also joined the newly formed Women Engineering Executive Leadership Society. I love LinkedIn so I am connected to a number of groups through the platform.

 

With what other organizations do you volunteer?

I am on the board of directors at the Ajilla Foundation. I volunteer frequently in STEM-based events such as Introduce a Girl to Engineering, Girls STEAM Ahead at the Homewood Science Center, Schneider GoGreen, AHA's GoRedGoSTEM and local school career fairs. I also led programs for more than 10 years dedicated to racial equity, and diversity and inclusion.

 

Why did you choose to attend Wayne State?

I wanted to go to a reputable school for engineering and, just in case I changed my mind, a school at which I could stay for other degree options.  My uncle, Kareem Yaldo, is an engineer and also attended Wayne State for his master’s and doctorate in civil engineering. My big sister, Eva, also went to Wayne State and I followed in her footsteps.

 

List any student organizations or teams you were part of at Wayne State.

IEEE Student Board, mentoring volunteer (student teacher course) to incoming engineering students, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

 

How did your education at Wayne State prepare you for what you are doing today?

Having my engineering degree truly allowed me to know how to problem solve, be creative and innovate. I loved the hands-on courses and understanding how things operated from scratch. I attribute my success and varied roles to the diversity that engineering prepares you for, whether that's through courses like physics or electrical circuits.

 

Who influenced you the most during your time at Wayne State?

I have to give props to my friends and study group. There were many hours spent together in the library and study halls, naps on the second floor of the Student Center, and tasty cultural food spots near and on campus. Life at Wayne State would not be the same without you!  Shout out to Ayam, Crystal, Ryan and Diana.

 

What is the most important thing you learned at Wayne State?

I loved the diverse culture in Detroit and the open mindset I gained from the history and student population, the transformation in Midtown and on campus, which eluded to the growth during my five years (yes, five years — I took 136 credit hours and worked part-time).

 

What advice do you have for current students who want to make the most out of their experience at Wayne State?

Don't forget to explore, create an experience, make new acquaintances young and old and try to pay attention to your studies. It is all worthwhile.

 

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