Max Brewer, B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, 2021, is a college graduate. His journey from freshman to finished took 11 years. Beginning with his first semester at IUPUC in the Fall of 2010, Brewer established himself quickly as a hands-on, “Jack-of-all trades” individual. He took a work-study position in the IUPUC Facility Services Department, taking on groundskeeping projects and HVAC work, then he decided to pursue off-campus employment. That is when the challenges mounted.
“I took a night shift line operator job for a local company. As the years went on, my grades fell,” Brewer remembered. “Working 7-day weeks with 12-hour days mixed in wore on me. My mental health tanked.” Brewer ended up quitting that job, taking a year off from school, and pondering his next step—a time period he referred to as “his lowest point.”
When Brewer scheduled his first academic advising meeting after a year away from school, he was admittedly nervous, but that feeling quickly subsided.
“Nicole [Cunningham] had everything about my college career ready to go. She had already made a plan to get me to finish and had been contacting others to help get me done faster,” Brewer remembered. “I was and still am thankful that she is my advisor. I’m not sure I would have been able to finish as fast or as well as I did without her amazing guidance.”
While taking his break from school, Brewer took a job at a grocery store in Seymour, Indiana, first, as a night stocker, then, as a donut fryer in the bakery. The job paid less than the line operator job, but had important perks.
“This move would be very good later when I went back to school because I was able to study while also working. Downtime waiting for things to thaw presented times I could research or even do homework,” Brewer recounted.
Brewer, who enjoys modeling and playing video games in his spare time, recalled, “Getting enough sleep and finding time to eat was interesting.”
Brewer saw a transformation from student to true scholar during his final two years at IUPUC. During three of his final four semesters, he had a 4.0 semester GPA.
“I was able to work on my mental health and keep my grades up,” Brewer reflected. “The last two years have been a gradual increase to my highest point, graduation!
Brewer’s engineering capstone project showcased the skills he has gained during his time at IUPUC. With teammates Ryan Gahimer, Tyler Merritt, Spencer Stephens, and Joshua Wilson, he helped to design an apparatus for Toyota Material Handling.
Brewer credits many individuals for his success at IUPUC: Dr. Julie Mendez, IUPUC’s Mechanical Engineering Program Director, for her willingness to always help students; Lymon Gregory, IUPUC Maintenance Supervisor, who hired him in IUPUC’s Facility Services Department and mentored him with patience and kindness; his fellow students, who were excellent friends and study partners; and his academic advisors through the years.
He also credits the campus culture and the quality of the engineering program.
“This place isn’t like the bigger colleges,” Brewer shared. “It’s quieter and more relaxed. Between making computer generated models of a real objects, to creating in depth analysis of jet engines, it’s all there.”
Brewer’s advice to new students is to not feel pressure to complete the degree in four years, and to also treat yourself with kindness. “Above all, remember to take time for yourself. Self-care and mental health are major tenets to success. Do what is right for you even if it scares you,” Brewer advises.
“I kept pushing myself to finish. As time went on, I kept telling myself I needed to finish. Whether it be pride, fear of failure, or pure stubborn will that kept me going, it didn’t matter as long as I made it.”