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Student Spotlight: Alex Nelson

Alex Nelson professional profile photo, in suit and tie.

Alex Nelson, a second year industrial engineering major from Morgantown, WV, is spending spring semester in Reading, PA, participating in the Statler College's Cooperative Education Experience. As part of the co-op experience, Alex will be working full-time at Penske headquarters through August.

At Penske, Alex helps with work in two of their divisions: Penske Truck Leasing, which provides trucks for rent to consumers, and Penske Logistics, which deals with supply change management, from running warehouses to transporting the goods themselves. At headquarters, Alex's team is called the Operational Excellence Department.

"It's been really rewarding," Alex said. "I'm taught something new every day."

A Different Kind of Off-Campus Experience

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Alex's work at the co-op has changed significantly from the beginning of the semester.

When he started his co-op experience, Alex was working on a project to streamline how supervisors keep track of the location and status of all of the trucks at their site, helping to develop a voice-assisted system that could be used to keep track of the over 300,000 trucks located at around 700 locations across North America.

At the beginning of March, Alex's responsibilities started to change, as the company began to explore what should be done to keep customers and businesses safe. Alex worked on a team to develop new cleaning procedures for all vehicles in line with recommendations to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Alex also helped make the documentation that went to agents who lease vehicles to customers to ensure they know how to properly sanitize their vehicles for coronavirus, and helped develop the check-list customers now see in the vehicles they rent, assuring them the vehicle has been sanitized properly.

As part of his coop schoolwork, Alex is keeping a professional journal to help him keep track of the projects he's working on throughout his time there.

Shift to Online Learning

Alex will continue working remotely for the remainder of the semester. He says shifting to working from home full-time has been an adjustment.

"It's a little harder to stay focused, but you just have to work with what you've been given, and try to be consistent in communicating with the people you're collaborating with," Alex said. He said online communication and collaboration tools have helped immensely.

Since Alex was already spending the semester off-campus, his coursework was already online, helping make the adjustment process this semester a little smoother.

One positive aspect of the move to online work for Alex is he has more time to stay in touch with friends and family.

"I don't have to commute to work anymore, other than from the bedroom to the living room, so I feel like there's more time in the day," Alex said. "I'm trying to talk to my parents more, especially since I'm living far from home."

Outside the Classroom

Alex Nelson standing on a bridge in a city.

Alex's favorite thing about his Honors experience so far has been meeting new people and going to Honors events like the Honors cookouts.

"When you go to class, a 200 person lecture hall can be intimidating," Alex said. "But with the different Honors events, it's just such a good way to meet new people — the people you like to be around."

Alex also loves playing soccer and basketball, and spending time (in person, or more recently online) with his family, friends and his girlfriend.

When he's on campus, Alex also works as a tour guide for the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources on campus visitation days.

"I grew up in Morgantown, and both of my parents are alumni, so I'm really passionate about WVU," Alex said.

He especially loves giving tours to prospective students who haven't visited campus before.

"Everything is totally new to them," Alex said.
After graduation, Alex plans to pursue a career in industrial engineering.