Rachel 2013721 Rachel Itabashi-Campbell was a PhD student at the start of this project; became a PhD candidate about midway; and was a PhD at its completion. She has not quite come to grips with her new academic status, however, and speculates that it will be a while before she is fully a "Doctor" in body and soul.

 She is a recent graduate of the Global Executive Track Ph.D. program in Industrial Engineering, a very new program launched in 2008 at Wayne State University (WSU) based in the City of Detroit, U.S.A. She was among the first cohort (originally a group of ten) and was one of the two to graduate first.

 She has worked in the automotive industry since 1991. She has extensive career in quality, reliability, and, most recently, system safety. In recent years she has been working in a capacity to demonstrate analytic and technical leadership, managing and supervising resources to attain given project goals.

  She intends to remain in the industry for the time being . . . with one change. She is set to teach a course in quality principles for WSU's School of Business this coming fall. She is looking forward to her first university-level teaching experience, which might speed up her sense of becoming "Dr. Itabashi-Campbell."

 Julia Gluesing, Ph.D. is a business and organizational anthropologist and Research Professor in Industrial and Systems Engineering at Wayne State University, where she teaches global perspectives in engineering management, global leadership, and qualitative research methods course in the Global Executive Track Ph.D. From 2005 – 2010 Dr. Gluesing was the Principal Investigator on a National Science Foundation Grant, the "Digital Diffusion Dashboard," to study the diffusion of innovation across the global enterprise by tapping into an organization's the information technology infrastructure. She also is President of Cultural Connections, Inc., a research, consulting, and education firm supporting global business development.


What first got you interested in engineering practice?

 I, Rachel Itabashi-Campbell, have lived and breathed engineering practice, primarily in automotive environment, for nearly two decades now. My work in automotive has always been in cross-functional setups that also cross international boundaries. This work environment naturally lent itself to working with people of diverse backgrounds and skills. Further, especially after becoming a reliability engineer in a research and development setting, I started to interface and collaborate with people from academia in various projects. Treading between practitioners and academics infused new perspectives into the way I saw product lifecycle management. Ultimately, I hit a point in my career where I wanted to "make complete sense" of what goes on in practice.


Why did you begin researching the topic of your chapter? Was it chance/grand plan/ colleague's recommendation ...?

 This chapter is an extension of my dissertation, based on the first half of my study that investigated engineering problem solving dynamics. I was fortunate to have met Bill Williams, the lead editor of this book, at an IEEE conference where I was presenting the outcomes of my phase-one research. My encounter with Bill resulted in yet another outlet for my study findings (i.e., this book), giving me also opportunities to interact with the group of fine scholars who have contributed to the book.


What challenges did you encounter when working on this chapter?

  Time management! That is the single most challenging aspect of pursuing doctoral studies – of which the book writing was part – while working full-time in industry. All of my graduate degrees had been earned while working full-time, so I was not completely new to time management and self-discipline, but becoming a Ph.D. was by far the hardest undertaking.


What aspect of preparing your chapter gives you the most satisfaction now?

 That I looked at the problem from both inductive and deductive angles by using a mixed methods approach – of which the book chapter presents the first half – was one aspect that gives me a sense of fullness in my investigation. A qualitative strategy as documented in the chapter or a quantitative one (the second half of my dissertation) alone would not have been adequate. That I was able to add insight into engineering problem solving beyond the traditional prescriptive or routine-based view gives me a great sense of satisfaction and owes it to the interdisciplinary character of the mentorship provided by Dr. Julia Gluesing, my co-author and an anthropologist, along with others in my dissertation committee.


What advice would you give to someone beginning to get interested in engineering practice(s) research?

 Dr. Gluesing advises anyone interested in engineering practice to become an anthropologist and ethnographer of sorts. Learn to be observant of the context and people's interactions as they do their work, and then ask them about it to learn what the work means to them and why they do what they do. Keep a journal to record your observations. Try to understand engineering practice from the perspective of those who are doing it.