Kettering's connections to the world's largest retailer

Jul 23, 2014

“From the co-op perspective, we keep promoting the Kettering presence on the team so we can continue to grow the co-op program.”

Published in the Spring 2014 issue of Kettering Magazine

If one notices a pattern of Kettering University students working and excelling in the Walmart logistics department in Bentonville, Arkansas, like everything else in supply chain management, it’s by design. Kettering graduates Avie Sassan '04 and Dawn Dreyer '04 have taken it upon themselves to grow Kettering’s presence at Walmart.

Avie Sassan (left) and Dawn Dreyer.

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“We went to Kettering and we believe in the quality of students at Kettering,” Sassan said. “We want to continue to grow Kettering’s presence inside Walmart because of the highly skilled and qualified graduates from the University.”

Sassan and Dreyer were preceded in the Walmart logistics department by Kettering graduates Rebecca Durkee '07 and Paul Durkee '07 and are followed by Loznee Chapman and Jenae Moore '10.

Sassan remains close with Dr. Pete Gheresus, an Industrial Engineering faculty member at Kettering,  and through their collaboration, they have been able to recruit co-op students to Walmart.

"Building and maintaining a relationship with the University is key to our success of integrating the Kettering co-op program into Walmart," Sassan said.

Dreyer grew up in Grand Blanc, Michigan, and graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Her co-op placement was with Johnson Controls in Plymouth, Michigan, where she also worked for seven years after graduating. While at Johnson Controls, Dreyer re-enrolled at Kettering in the masters in Manufacturing Operations distance learning program. She was able to complete the program while being placed overseas in her position with the company. 

“The best part about that was that Kettering allowed distance learning so I did the majority of my masters overseas,” Dreyer said. “I had the opportunity to do my classes from Germany.”

Dreyer chose to attend Kettering a second time because of the flexibility of the program but also to cater her education towards operations and processes which made her an attractive candidate for the logistics department at Walmart.

Dreyer was recruited to Walmart by Sassan in 2011. Sassan started working in the Walmart logistics department in 2008 after working at UPS in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for four years. Sassan completed her co-op at UPS and graduated from Kettering with an industrial engineering degree. Now, Sassan is attempting to assist her department to continue to recruit co-op students. 

“We are huge supporters of the co-op program and we are trying to help grow the co-op culture at Walmart and specifically in our department.” Sassan said. “Co-op students start with the company as freshman, they grow with the company and are potentially ready to join the company when they graduate.”

Sassan and Dreyer believe that the co-op program is mutually beneficial to Walmart and Kettering as it provides the company with qualified students while giving students experience in a global logistics department that they can take back to the classroom as they complete their education.

“There are quite a few Kettering students in our department,” Sassan said. “From the co-op perspective, we keep promoting the Kettering presence on the team so we can continue to grow the co-op program.”

The flexibility and diversity of learning that occurs in the co-op education model allows for application in many professional settings. Currently, Dreyer is working on increasing accuracy in the grocery distribution network. She examines how products are handled, processed and shipped to individual stores.

“A lot of what I’m working on is different than what I went to school for,” Dreyer said. “A Kettering education sets you up with flexibility and it ingrains you with adaptability. I’m working more in industrial engineering and really understanding the retail business now is exciting for me.”

Sassan works on continuously improving process improvement and in some cases is looking five to 10 years ahead to assess the future facility and transportation needs based on where the company wishes to be in that time span. The ideal is to service customers by efficiently operating facilities and networks that can manage potential increases in the volume of goods. 

“Kettering is fairly new to Walmart but it’s fun when you consider the Kettering history,” Sassan said. “Kettering students want to recruit Kettering students and we know the talent that we have and the talent that we want to recruit.” 


Written By Pardeep Toor | Contact: Patrick Hayes - phayes@kettering.edu - (810) 762-9639