Any Clemson engineering graduate knows how challenging coursework can be, but some students face situations far more difficult than any that arise in the classroom. One such Clemson student is Chris Lourenco, a senior industrial engineering (IE) major who now hails from Myrtle Beach, SC. But what facing adversity means to Chris is not limited to coping with tragedy: It means finding strength to help others do the same, and embracing opportunities to positively impact the world around him.
When Chris was nine years old, he was enjoying a sailing trip with his two older brothers, Zach and Alex, and his father. A beautiful day on the water was cut short when the mast of the boat struck low-lying power lines. Both of his brothers were electrocuted, while Chris and his father survived. Dealing with a loss of this magnitude is daunting and unimaginable for anyone, especially for such a young child. Chris managed to persevere and cope with this grief through the help of a support group called The Compassionate Friends, which helps families cope with the death of a child. This support group not only helped Chris, but it also inspired him to develop a passion for mentoring and helping others. To this day he still is active as a volunteer in The Compassionate Friends, as well as in his Clemson experience.
Chris, a former valedictorian at North Myrtle Beach Christian School, is on course to graduate this coming May. He is a shining example of how a student fundamentally strong in math and science has defined himself during his student career. Chris knew upon entering Clemson that he was interested in being an engineer. He used his first year in General Engineering to explore the engineering disciplines, and determined that IE is where he would make his mark. Coincidentally, Chris’ father has an industrial hygiene background, but Chris never really considered IE until his professor for Intro to Engineering, Dr. Ashley K. Childers, encouraged him to tour the IE Department during his freshman year.
After test driving a couple of IE courses in his sophomore year, Chris confirmed that IE was the right fit for his talents and interests. Now in his final semester, he finds himself particularly interested in operations research, which employs advanced analytical methods and tools to aid in decision making and analysis tasks that arise in complex systems. In addition to Chris’ overwhelming success in the classroom, Chris has also served as a leader in the Supplemental Instruction Program on campus. The Supplemental Instruction Program aims to increase the success rate in some of the historically difficult classes. This teaching/tutoring experience has led Chris to decide to pursue a Ph.D. after graduating from Clemson, and to potentially launch a career in academics.
Chris has applied to several of the top industrial engineering programs around the country and looks forward to this next chapter of his life. And as he moves on to tackle ever more ambitious academic and professional goals, the IE department remains proud of Chris’ accomplishments and grateful for the mentoring he has provided to his fellow students at Clemson.