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Meet Katie Lawson, an Entrepreneurship Ambassador, scholar and engineer

Katie Lawson

Katie Lawson came to NC State from Apex, NC and is now graduating with a degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering with a minor in Cognitive Science from the College of Engineering. 

Katie’s college career was nothing less than spectacular. She was an Entrepreneurship Student Ambassador and Entrepreneurship Scholar, a resident at the Albright Entrepreneurs Village, a member of the Pack Motorsports Baja Racing Team and an undergraduate research assistant. Katie recognizes the impact these extracurricular experiences have had on her life and sat down to reflect with us as she approaches graduation.

Discovering Entrepreneurship at NC State

Katie took us back to her freshman year when she first discovered NC State Entrepreneurship at Entrepalooza. She said, “I felt welcomed immediately by the supportive staff and students.” Intrigued to learn more about the entrepreneurship committee, she became an Entrepreneurship Student Ambassador where she was able to surround herself with hard-driven students, insightful mentors and a variety of opportunities to get involved. Her role as an Entrepreneurship Student Ambassador, and later president of the program, taught her how to lead by example, co-organize events and learn as well as teach others about the plethora of entrepreneurship opportunities on campus. 

One of such opportunities is living at the Albright Entrepreneurs Village on Centennial Campus, a living and learning village for students interested in entrepreneurship. This opportunity connected her with people interested in making a difference in the world—either by launching their own startup or by developing an entrepreneurial mindset. 

Her tremendous involvement with entrepreneurship led Katie to be selected as an e5x Scholar in 2020 and a Sameer Murarka Entrepreneurship Scholar and NC State Entrepreneurship Scholar in 2021. The financial support gave her the opportunity to expand her network by connecting her to a group of like-minded scholars as well as pursue extracurricular endeavors such as research conferences, job conferences and more.

Additional Campus Involvement

Outside of the entrepreneurship community at NC State, Katie was equally as busy. During her freshman year and sophomore year, she was a member of NC State’s Pack Motorsports Baja Racing Team. Her team designed and fabricated an off-roading Baja Vehicle to compete in national competitions. Katie was the business team leader and led a team of students to write a mock business plan and pitch to present to judges. The team placed 9th overall at a Baja Competition in New York. 

Katie was also involved in undergraduate research with Dr. Chang Nam within the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. She researched the history and effects of hyperscanning, which is a method of measuring the activity of more than one person’s brain at one time. Additionally, she conducted a research study on the most effective methods of teaching as shown by measuring the brain activity between the teacher and student through hyperscanning.  

Putting Entrepreneurship Skills To Practice During the Pandemic

At the brink of the pandemic, Katie used her engineering background and love for problem-solving at her family business, Easy Masks. Her family partnered with Harriss and Covington, a local Hosiery Mill in North Carolina, to design, manufacture, and distribute reusable face masks. COVID-19 forced the mill to shut down and workers were unemployed. Easy Masks, however, was able to employ some mill workers and keep the mill operating. “While there are now numerous masks on the market, Easy Masks offers a unique, high quality, local, and patent-pending product with our two-layer design,” Katie shared. Most handmade and designer masks are made with standard sewing fabrics and do not fit snugly around the face, thus leaving gaps that decrease effectiveness. With the sudden increase in demand for face masks Katie, as an industrial systems engineering consultant, helped Easy Masks with their manufacturing and packaging systems.  

Recommendations on How to Get Involved

Two of Katie’s favorite re-occurring events on campus were the Entrepreneurship Mentorship Program and Started at State speaker series. “I enjoyed the mentorship program and having the opportunity to meet new people and professionals. I also enjoyed the guest speakers and learning from entrepreneurs about their past struggles and successes,” she shared. Katie also highlighted the Entrepreneurship Garage as a fantastic resource where she was able to learn how to use the different tools and surround herself with a community of smart and supportive people. 

As Katie looked back at her college career, she was most proud of her involvement with NC State Entrepreneurship and seeing the program grow in impact, rankings and participation. “It was a great honor to be an Entrepreneurship Ambassador and an Entrepreneurship Scholar,” Katie told us. 

Plans After Graduation

After graduation, Katie is relocating to San Diego, California to be a Human-Systems Integration Engineer. She said, “NC State Engineering has provided me with a solid education, while NC State Entrepreneurship has taught me to approach problem-solving with an open mind.”

As she embarks on the next chapter of her life, Katie shared some advice for current and future NC State students. Katie encourages engineering students who want to launch their own startup or work in an established business to join the Entrepreneurship Garage, attend guest speaker events, and be involved in other events NC State Entrepreneurship hosts. “The program teaches a unique way of approaching problems –- to think outside the box,” said Katie.

Katie expressed her gratitude by saying, “I am thankful for NC State Entrepreneurship and will always remember the fantastic mentors, friends and advice I obtained from the wonderful community of people.”

This post was originally published in Entrepreneurship News.