College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences

In career search, Ph.D. student Matthew Sheppard asks, ‘Where can I make the most difference?’

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For Matthew Sheppard, the best part of pursuing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Clemson University was the opportunity to serve as a teaching assistant, especially when struggling students approached him for help.

“They might be a C or D student without me, but with me they could be a B student,” Matthew said. “Those are the ones I had the most fun working with.”

Matthew Sheppard restores old cars for fun, including a blue 1965 Cadillac with bull horns mounted on the front that he sold to a buyer in the Dominican Republic.

After receiving his master’s degree, Matthew worked with a manufacturer in West Union, where he had a great boss and team. But in his mind, he kept returning to the impact he had on students, and it led him back to Clemson.

Matthew is now pursuing a Ph.D. in engineering and science education with Dr. Lisa Benson as his advisor. It would be his third degree from the University. He received his Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering in 2017.

Clemson has a multitude of programs to help students accelerate their learning and career development, and in his 10 years as a Tiger, Matthew has participated in many of them.

The BS + MS program allowed him to knock out some of his master’s degree coursework while still an undergraduate. The Cooperative Education program provided an opportunity to get real-world experience by working at GE.

Matthew was a master’s student when he won an award for volunteering to do STEM demonstrations in Anderson County schools. As a Ph.D. student, he is helping the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering implement a $2-million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Matthew, left, works with Dr. Lisa Benson in her office.

Even as a busy student, Matthew has found time for service, including a stint as a volunteer who visited with hospice patients.

For fun, Matthew restores old cars, including a blue 1965 Cadillac with bull horns mounted on the front that he sold to a buyer in the Dominican Republic.

After receiving his Ph.D., Matthew, who grew up in Kingsport, plans to return to East Tennessee. He would like to teach at a high school, community college or four-year school.

“It’s going to come down to, ‘Where can I make the most difference?’” he said.

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