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MEP Alumni Spotlight: Amber Nixon 

When Amber Nixon was a junior in high school, she was considering being a music and math major in college. Then, she enrolled in a pre-college summer program and learned about what she did and did not like doing. After the program, Nixon (’16) ended up choosing to be an industrial engineering major at the University of Tennessee.

“I knew if I chose an engineering study it would be industrial because of the broad perspective and supply chain focus that UT’s program offered,” Nixon said.

The summer program that led Nixon to her decision was the High School Introduction to Engineering Systems (HITES12) program in 2011. Hosted by the Office of Engineering Diversity Programs (EDP), HITES12 gave her the chance to be on campus, learn about UT, and experience the types of support offered to students.

Nixon was introduced to HITES12 when her high school counselor emailed her parents the application from EDP. At the time, HITES12 was led by Travis Griffin. He became the person who helped Nixon the most during her years at UT.

“From the moment he hosted our HITES program in 2011 and we accepted our admissions into the university our senior year, he made sure we had the resources for studying and the awareness of the programs that would help us in our professional paths and our personal development,” said Nixon. “He acted as a guidance counselor with an open-door policy when we needed support.”

Another organization from EDP that Nixon had an active role in was the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). She started out as a member and eventually became an executive board member. Through NSBE, she attended many programs, career fairs, and national conferences that gave her valuable time with multiple sponsoring companies.

“One of my favorite programs was MiniSeek. To bring hundreds of young students, K–8, to our home, share with them the wonders of STEM, and to watch them glow and say, ‘I can be an engineer when I grow up’ was a satisfying moment,” Nixon said. “I never considered myself a trailblazer or a leader before being put into a position to do so. I took away college experiences such as friends, conferences, and being part of a community that supports their community.”

Overall, the most valuable thing Nixon gained from EDP was personal development. Nixon learned how to navigate getting internships and jobs, as well as how to be prepared for future positions. EDP taught her how to sell herself and excel in her space.

Some advice Nixon has for students is, “Not only participate, but get involved. Be the change you want to see in the culture. It is a great networking, social, and professional opportunity you would not want to miss.”

Currently, Nixon is an automation department manager at Frito Lay North America. She manages the department at the Perry, Georgia warehouse that contains all the robots, auto guided vehicles, and auto receiving and storage units. The department is in the process of expanding with five new robots, which Nixon is overseeing from an operations standpoint with her group.

She aims to continue growing her current department with strategies against obstacles they face. In the next three-to-five years, she wants to pursue a warehouse director position managing all warehouse supply chain functions.

“Believe in yourself. One person’s ‘no’ only leaves room for someone else’s ‘yes,’ so don’t give up,” Nixon said. “Surround yourself with a positive minded network and circle that can help you stay motivated. It may take a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to keep growing.”


Lilly Tran (