Engineering degree helps alum succeed as entrepreneur

Stephanie Sokol for Oakland University

Shawn Ward cites his Oakland University Engineering studies as a big part of his success. After earning his master’s in engineering in 1998, he moved to New York City, worked the stock market, and in 2003, became a successful entrepreneur with his twin brother Shane through their fashion company Shane&Shawn.

“My time at Oakland University was great because I felt like I was achieving something that was really bigger than myself,” Shawn said. “To go and get my master’s degree, and do it at a place that was near home — I was able to go see my mom a lot, and work at Chrysler during the day. It was great.”

With his engineering background, Shawn takes on the role of planner and approaches things analytically. After designing for other companies, he and his brother wanted to do some work of their own — and develop a brand people would know them by.

Partnering with large companies like Roos (the original shoes with pockets) has brought them success. Shawn said his engineering degree and the hands-on experience he had at OU has helped him with his entrepreneurial work.

“One thing I’m very proud to say is that I’m an engineer, and even more, that I have my master’s in mechanical engineering,” Shawn said. “Which sounds ultra impressive when you’re in New York because there are so many people in the arts, and a lot of finance people, but there are not a lot of engineers.”

Shawn said he plans to visit OU next year to share his story and expertise with engineering students.

For more information about the School of Engineering and Computer Science at Oakland University, visit oakland.edu/secs.

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