Keep the Shiny Side Up
It’s not often that a preschooler knows—truly knows—where they will go to college. Unless that preschooler is Sharon Joines. Joines grew up in close proximity to NC State and vividly remembers riding her bike around campus as a child and, as a high school student, attending a computer engineering summer camp. Around the age of three, Joines found an NC State class ring in her yard, and explains, “We tried to find the owner; however, there were no markings. I told my mom I was going to keep it because I was going to go to NC State.”
True to her word, Joines is a three-time NC State University alumna who received her Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering. She is married to another three-time alumnus, Jeff Joines, Ph.D., who is also Professor and Department Head of Textile Engineering Chemistry and Sciences at NC State College of Textiles.
Joines chose industrial engineering because her father and sister were both engineers, and it seemed like a natural fit for her. More importantly, the ergonomics focus was the catalyst. “I wanted to find a way to help people when they are working. Our work life takes up so much of our waking hours that I wanted to focus on this. Many of my friends wanted to become doctors, and my thought was that if I could prevent problems and a worker didn’t have to go to the doctor, then I would be contributing,” Joines says.
Over her career, Joines has focused on improving lives, whether through processes, products, or environments. In her new role as Associate Dean of the College of Design, Joines hopes to continue this work. “Sometimes the design challenge is about the physical and sometimes it’s about processes. For me taking on this job, it is about processes. It is about digging into the data—and there is a lot of data out there—at NC State.” Joines is quick to add, “It’s not always about collecting more, but harvesting what is already there and then synthesizing it and presenting it to people and saying, ‘well, here is a different perspective on what is going on,’ and letting them be informed by this.”
Joines has high expectations for the College and for herself. She says, “I hope to improve our design community, to make people’s lives easier, to help our faculty educate our students, to better utilize resources for our students, and for our students to succeed.” It’s an ambitious goal, but Joines has a history of pushing herself and making things happen.
Growing up, Joines cultivated her adventurous spirit and appreciation for a challenge. She was involved in autocross, which is, “timed racing where other people are not on the course with you. You are competing against yourself,” she offers. This activity was inspired by her father whose advice and beliefs are an integral part of who she is today. “He had the attitude that you can’t find your boundaries—the edge of your capabilities—without testing them occasionally. And he felt that way, even about racing. He was always saying, just keep the shiny side up, Sharon.” She continues, “and, that is sort of like everything in my life; push it and occasionally go past where you think you can, but just keep the shiny side up.”