Photo of Joe Bement in Uganda posing for a photo with a warthog

MEM student Joe Bement reflects on winning Richards Fellowship

When Joe Bement began the Master of Engineering and Management program at Case Western Reserve University last May, he hoped to build upon his lifelong passion for engineering—but he didn’t expect it to take him across the world. Flash forward to March, and Bement was spending his spring break in Uganda working on medical outreach programs alongside students from Makerere University.

The experience not only solidified Bement’s interests in his field but expanded his horizons—and it was all possible thanks to the Richards Fellowship.

Photo of Joe Bement

Funded through an endowment by Case Western Reserve University Trustee Donald J. Richards (CIT ’79, MGT ’81), a retired managing director at Accenture, the award goes to one student in the MEM program each year and includes a $10,000 scholarship. In Bement’s case, he received the award shortly after beginning the one-year graduate program, which afforded him the financial flexibility to study abroad.

Over the course of the week he spent in Uganda, Bement and his classmates contributed to vaccine outreach efforts, promoted medical waste programs and conducted a pulse oximeter needs analysis, all with the end goal of gaining a more global view of engineering. 

“[This experience] showed me how important a proper needs analysis is for engineers,” Bement said. “In both vaccine distributions and medical waste management practices, what we observed didn’t always match our assumptions, because different cultures have different needs.”

Another valuable feature of the Richards Fellowship? Opportunities to network with Richards and Accenture employees. Over the past few months, Bement and Richards have met for lunch several times to discuss the MEM program, consulting and career-building. 

For Bement, one key takeaway Richards stressed was the importance of understanding organizational change as an engineer. Unexpectedly, they also found their personal connections overlap through Bement’s athletic background in the area. 

“Mr. Richards has been a great connection to have during my time at Case [Western Reserve],” Bement said. “His desire to give back has made for a valuable mentoring experience as I’ve gone through the program. It’s a relationship that I’m happy to have built and hope to keep down the road.”

Originally from Northeast Ohio, Bement returned home to Cleveland after finishing his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Ohio Northern University, where he also played four years of soccer. The MEM program at Case Western Reserve appealed to him as a way to develop leadership skills while working in industry.

Backed by the support from the Richards Fellowship and his MEM program education, Bement was able to complete an internship on the engineering team at local manufacturing firm Prince & Izant Company, where he has contributed to medical product projects and platinum wire production. He will continue with the company after graduation, when he’ll take on the role of a supplier quality engineer. 

The manufacturing industry was a change of pace for Bement, who had previously completed internships in the construction field at local McNally Tunneling and in research at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton.

“I’ve landed in the manufacturing field because I really enjoy the environment,” he explained. “I like the balance between hands-on work and engineering theory.”

Manufacturing also provides Bement with the opportunity to work on various different types of projects at once, something he appreciates as someone with “a very pure interest in the engineering field.”

Now, as he looks ahead to commencement in May, Bement expressed how grateful he is to have received the Richards Fellowship, and to the other students in his cohort.

“I think a lot of my classmates were more than qualified to have won it,” Bement said of the fellowship, “and they should be acknowledged as well.”

Learn more about the Master of Engineering and Management program, offered jointly through Case Western Reserve University’s Case School of Engineering and Weatherhead School of Management.