Racing into the future: Meet 2023 PNW graduate Mia Flory

December 1, 2023
Mia Flory leans against the outside of a race car.

Graduating with a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering Technology from the College of Technology at Purdue University Northwest (PNW), Mia Flory, BS ’22, MS ’23, originally found her passion for engineering and a career at the race track.

As a child, Flory’s dream of one day working for a motorsport racing team grew out of watching and attending motorsport races with her mother and grandfather. Despite her dream job requiring an engineering and technology background, in high school, she decided not to study engineering in college. Her mother convinced her to give the engineering field a try. “My mom was totally right,” says Flory. “I love engineering, I love every aspect of it, and I am so glad she encouraged me to try it!”

As an undergraduate at PNW, Flory was a member of the PNW Baja Racing student organization. The Schererville native was part of the team that placed third for sales and marketing presentation at the 2022 Baja Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) international competition in Arizona. At that competition, she met her current employer.

In July 2023, Flory began a full-time position as a manufacturing engineer with Sargent Aerospace and Defense in Tucson, Arizona, while finishing up her last two graduate classes online. Previously, she earned her bachelor of science degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology from PNW.

While on campus, she was a member of Tau Alpha Pi, the national honor society for engineering technology, where she served as vice president and secretary. In addition, Flory participated in STEM on the Road events, representing the College of Technology and the Baja racing team.

Flory was a 2021 recipient of a Gene Haas Foundation grant award. The award provides financial assistance for students interested in manufacturing-based careers and allows them to pursue careers in advanced manufacturing.

She still dreams of one day working as a crew chief or race engineer with a motorsport racing team.

What did you like most about the Industrial Engineering Technology program at PNW?

“I loved the labs. The labs took everything I learned in class and put it into actual physical form. It’s a hands-on program where you attend lectures and then you go to lab and it’s exactly what you just studied. It was very helpful when trying to learn concepts.”

How do you think your involvement in campus organizations and activities helped define your success at PNW?

“I’ve learned and will take through to my future career that you’ve got to work hard, work through the obstacles, overcome the challenges and learn how to work as a team to get to the end goal. Hard work definitely pays off. It’s one of the most rewarding things to finally see all your ideas and hard work come to life.”

Did you have a pivotal experience while attending PNW?

“During my tour of the PNW campus, as we were walking by, Rick Rickerson was just opening the door of the shop in the Anderson building. He asked my major and then invited me in to take a look around. He talked about the Baja team, showed me the car and encouraged me to come to a club meeting. After that, Baja became a huge part of my college experience. I met some of my best friends there, and it made me realize this is exactly what I want to do in the future. That was my pivotal experience.”

What words of advice would you share with prospective students looking to attend PNW?

“Get out there, get involved and take advantage of everything PNW has to offer. There are so many opportunities on campus. Find a group of people that you relate to, who share your interests, and join a club.”

Was there anyone at PNW who inspired or encouraged you along the way?

Rick RickersonRick Rickerson

laboratory administrator, college of Technology

“There are so many I could list, but if I had to pick one, it would be Rick Rickerson. He saw my potential and never let me settle for less. Whenever I would doubt myself or have an issue, he would not let me give up. He pushed me and helped me grow and I’m very thankful for that.”

Azrael Jimenez sits in a baja car

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