Our May feature is Yasir Khogali, a 2000 graduate in mechanical engineering. Khogali is an engineering manager at Nissan Technical Center in Farmington Hills, Mich., and serves on the board of the WMU Alumni Association. He received the Alumni Excellence Award for the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in 2015.
What’s your career path been like since graduating from WMU’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences? Have there been any surprises along the way?
I started off as a design engineer for a Tier 1 automotive supplier using my skills as a mechanical engineer from day one. After 12 years with that company, an opportunity opened up with an OEM where they would teach me a brand new skill that would make me a more well-rounded engineer. I spent the next two years working more in the electrical world of engineering, which any self-respecting mechanical engineer will tell you is sacrilege, but people were willing to teach me a new skill so I jumped at the chance. Having both the mechanical and the electrical experience allowed me to transition into the management role that I currently hold.
What are you passionate about in your work?
Making myself better each day. As cliché as it sounds, what drives me is the pursuit of the next puzzle that is tougher than the last. I like the projects that others don’t want because they are challenging. Fearing failure or fear of taking on new challenges is the worst reason to say no to an opportunity. You never know your capacity to do something until you push your own boundaries.
How did your experience at WMU’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences shape your success?
I had some phenomenal professors -- professors like Dr. Koorosh Naghshineh -- who continue to be mentors to me today. Men and women that challenged me to do better, pushing for excellence. Those professors were there for me when I stumbled, picked me up, dusted me off then kicked me in the pants to get back to working toward my dream of being an engineer.
It sounds like you keep in touch with many other alumni. How do you stay connected to them?
Social media is the easiest way of course, but there are a core group of friends that were with me when we graduated from WMU, friendships forged through late nights working on projects and labs. Those people continue to be a very important part of my life. I also serve on the WMU Alumni Board of Directors, which has allowed me to interact with fellow Broncos all over the country, as well as serve as an ambassador for the university, and specifically for the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Anything else we should know?
I transferred to WMU from a community college. I participated in a summer program at a university outside of Michigan and was supposed to attend that school in the fall. It turned out to not be a good fit for me but when I returned to Michigan, it was past time to apply to four-year universities. Ultimately, I came to WMU, which provided me the sense of belonging that I was missing from my experience at the community college. It’s important to keep in mind that people arrive at WMU having taken different paths and with different life experiences. The university experience is about education, of course, but it is also about community.