When Andy Storm ’99 was a student at Michigan Tech, he never imagined using his course work in an international defense situation. But recently, he was doing just that in a meeting with a Mexican general at the Ministry of Defense in Mexico City.
"We discussed the vehicles my company makes for the Mexican military, which are designed to keep troops safe in the most dangerous drug cartel hot spots,” he said. “The goal was to find ways to help the government suppress drug-related violence.”
Storm, who has dual degrees in business administration and mechanical engineering technology, used expertise from both to meet the military’s needs. “On the business side, I had to consider currency fluctuations and material flow to Mexico,” he said. “From a supply-chain perspective, we had to figure out how to provide service to the vehicles in the field without endangering our employees.
"More than anything else, the world needs leadership."
"In terms of engineering, I had to collaborate with my colleagues in the service and aftermarket departments to find ways to tweak the design process, transition manufacturing capacity closer to the customer, and make strategic changes to serve the soldiers. It was a delicate balance between providing high-level service to the client and managing the real-world needs of the corporation."
As the director of engineering in the defense division of Oshkosh Corporation, Storm draws heavily on his business and engineering background on a daily basis. Michigan Tech, he said, was the perfect place to nurture a robust education in both fields. “Michigan Tech presents the opportunity to learn both engineering and business, which was a huge benefit when I went out into the working world,” he said.
For Storm, there was never a question that his life’s work would be a mix of technology and business. “My passion has always been operations,” he said. “There’s something really special about seeing raw material flow through the manufacturing process and end as a consumer product. Manufacturing is great for those who are young, ambitious, and have a desire to work with people.”
During his undergraduate years, Storm spent two summers as an intern in General Motors’ metal-fabricating division. There, he was exposed to the service and manufacturing sectors of operations and developed a deeper appreciation for the process. “Most importantly, I learned how to operate with a sense of urgency,” he said. “In the automotive world, you have to react and solve problems quickly or you don’t survive.”
After leaving Michigan Tech, Storm spent several years working in manufacturing operations at GM before going on to further his dual-focus education. As a Leaders of Manufacturing Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he earned an MBA in Economics, Finance, and Strategy and an MS in Engineering Systems. Armed with a world-class education from Michigan Tech and MIT, Storm served as the manager for global procurement and supply-chain management at American Axle and Manufacturing and the operations manager at Pratt and Whitney before moving into his current position.
“I use the skills I learned at Michigan Tech every day of my life,” he said. “The professors taught me how to handle a range of business situations, from monitoring defense spending around the world to finding ways to provide the same technical requirements at a lower price.”
Storm advises current students to take advantage of the opportunities at the University, from securing an early internship or co-op position to finding leadership roles around campus.
“More than anything else, the world needs leadership. The business world needs people who can think quickly on their feet, lead a team of people, and get results,” he said.
Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.