College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences

West Point graduate finds home among Clemson University’s industrial engineers

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Michael T. Clark was nearing graduation from the U.S. Military Academy West Point when he applied for a GEM Consortium Fellowship and started considering which of the nation’s top industrial engineering programs he would choose for his master’s degree.

“Clemson, of course, was one of them,” he said.

Michael T. Clark poses for a photo outside Freeman Hall.

Michael landed the fellowship, received his Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from West Point and then packed his bags for South Carolina.

Over the past year and a half, he has conducted research with his advisor, Dr. Thomas Sharkey. They have focused on using operations research and network optimization to to interdict and disrupt human trafficking networks.

With graduation looming, Michael was looking forward to defending his thesis, anticipating it would be his proudest moment as a Tiger.

“I know the work that it took to get here,” he said. “Looking back on the journey that has gotten me to this point, is a very unique one, and I am very proud of it.”

Michael’s supporters said he made big contributions to Clemson in a short time, including to the STEM All-In program.

Michael said that while at Clemson, he carved out a social life by joining the swim, scuba, skydiving and flying clubs. He has had the opportunity to interact with a wide range of people from a diverse array of cultural backgrounds.

“I’m very appreciative for the opportunity to experience different types of people,” he said. “It’s been a short two years, but that’s what’s really helped me grow so much.”

The Clemson faculty and staff who have been most influential to him include:

* Dr. Scott Mason, who recruited him to the University

* Dr. Sharkey, who welcomed Michael to his research group after Dr. Mason took a private-sector job and became an adjunct professor

* Tonyia Stewart, the CECAS director for graduate recruitment and inclusion who has supported Michael and worked with him on diversity and recruiting initiatives

As a West Point graduate, Michael is an active-duty officer in the U.S. Army. After receiving his master’s degree, he will serve as an air defense artillery officer, although he has not yet learned where he will be stationed. Following his service in the Army, he would like to help lead and develop a company internally.

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