Dr. Katherine Jordan

Management Engineer
Duke University Hospital
PhD Industrial and Systems Engineering. North Carolina A&T State University

About Me

I am currently a Management Engineer at Duke University Hospital. When I was younger, I wanted to be a lawyer or a broadcaster. My role models were Miriam Thomas from WTVD News and Claire Huxtable. Engineers weren’t in my vocabulary yet. I earned a Bachelors degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University which ultimately matriculated into my Doctorate degree in Industrial Engineering with a concentration in Human Factors.

How was your experience with STEM classes and teachers in middle and high school?

I enjoyed STEM classes in middle school. I enjoyed the hands-on approach our teachers provided that allowed me to see science in “normal” everyday things. In high school I began to really enjoy mathematics because the classroom got a lot smaller and I felt proud that I was able to do something challenging. Those experiences set the tone for me to become an engineer.

What’s next in your career path?

I plan to get more certifications in project management to refine this skill. I also plan to launch a workshop series in my hometown to teach young girls about coding and the basics of data science.

What do you do to unwind?

Exercise is my favorite stress reliever but I’m also guilty of watching mindless TV shows. I won’t mention the names of these shows but they usually begin with, “The Real Housewives of. . .”     

My Career

So what do you do at work everyday?

I analyze hospital operational data to help hospital leadership make pertinent decisions concerning staffing, forecasting and quality improvements. I use statistical tools to help forecast and predict trends within the hospital. I also lead performance improvement projects with teams for continuous improvement.

What motivated you to pursue this career path?

I wanted to do real work in a real setting. It’s a great feeling to know that something you’ve designed impacts someone’s hospital experience.

What is the coolest part of your job?

Most people have been in a hospital for a personal visit or with a family member. The coolest part of my job is working on projects that impact the hospital each day. I’ve implemented systems that directly affect my family and that’s pretty awesome!

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Because I work in data science and project management I am not working with a physical product. Sometimes I can spend hours or even days trying to solve a problem without having physical results to show for my efforts.

Ever felt discouraged blazing this path?

As a female engineer, it’s very common to be the only woman. Many times I’m also the only black professional and/or the youngest person in the room. I’ve definitely had some discouraging moments in my career. Sometimes the environment was intimidating and I’ve been overwhelmed at times with the the fast paced environment. In those moments I embraced the frustration and confusion because I knew that if it were easy everyone would be doing my job! God has never put me somewhere that He didn’t see me through.

Who are the people that keep you going?

My biggest cheerleaders are in my immediate family. As a first generational college student, they’ve been extremely supportive in my academic pursuits and career choices. I also have a small network of friends and advisors that constantly encourage me to stay away from complacency and pursue excellence.

What has been the most useful life advice you have received?

If you’re the smartest person in the room, find a new room.       

What do you want to say to up and coming Melanin Genius?

Always take time for you. Taking time off isn’t a sign of weakness. You’re going to do some remarkable things in this world. Even Bentleys need tune-ups.

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