Business and Engineering Group takes flight

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – A new club in the College of Engineering aims to provide aspiring engineers with knowledge of business terminology and concepts, and offer opportunities for students to build relationships with industry professionals.

The Business and Engineering Group (B.E.G.) formed in spring 2013 when Anthony Aliberti (Class of 2014, industrial engineering) recognized what he called a "clear connection between business and engineering" while he was enrolled in an engineering economy course taught by Paul Lynch, lecturer and academic adviser in the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.

Aliberti said, "An organization relating these two fields did not exist on campus, so I saw an opportunity."

He and Lynch, the club's faculty adviser, recruited six founding officers and the group began to take shape throughout the summer and into the fall 2013 semester. 

Aliberti, who served as the inaugural president, recalled, "We envisioned that students would have opportunities to participate in different activities that involve bridging the gap between business and engineering."

In spring 2014, the group became an official Penn State club. Since then, B.E.G. members have been quite busy. Aliberti noted, "During the fall 2014 semester, we participated in a Lowe's case competition and attended a distinguished guest lecture and Chevron lunch and learn."

The Beaver native said the case competition was especially helpful because he learned more about how companies operate. "I came away with a better understanding and appreciation for the work that is done behind the scenes."

Lynch said Lowe's representatives were satisfied with the results and B.E.G. students agreed the experience was worthwhile. "We plan to bring on a number of companies that would like to partner to sponsor annual competitions in the engineering economy courses."

Vico Spinabelli (Class of 2014, industrial engineering) was the B.E.G. marketing manager last semester. The Peters Township native said his involvement helped complement his in-class learning. "The fall guest speaker shared great career insight and general advice in business, engineering and life. I was afforded valuable networking opportunities with Lowe's and Chevron as well as with other students with similar interests in business."

Industrial engineering senior Christina Merritt is B.E.G. president this semester. The Wexford native said B.E.G. members will have many opportunities to participate in activities this spring. "The first will be a plant tour with an information session and Q&A of Target and TB Woods. We have also planned lunch and learn networking sessions with corporate sponsors that are looking to hire students for internship, co-ops and full-time jobs, and a spring golf outing in May for B.E.G. members, corporate sponsors, engineering faculty and alumni."

Although many B.E.G. members are pursuing industrial engineering degrees, the club is open to all students.

Katie Drawl, a senior in industrial engineering and current B.E.G. vice president, said meeting students from other majors has advantages for corporate sponsors and B.E.G. members. "Students are able to share work experiences with one another, which increases company visibility on campus. They can also introduce each other to interesting classes."

Lynch said he and B.E.G. students have delivered presentations to the department's Service Engineering Enterprise Advisory Board and Industrial and Professional Advisory Council as well as to college staff and alumni. "Their feedback has helped to shape B.E.G. and the ongoing efforts to infuse key business topics into the industrial engineering curriculum."

B.E.G. members will attend a National Organization for Business and Engineering (NOBE) conference in February in Philadelphia. Lynch said after the conference, the B.E.G. will become an official student chapter of NOBE, whose mission is to bring together individuals at corporate and academic institutions interested in both business and engineering and to integrate these fields into one practice.

He added that the group is always looking for new opportunities to partner with businesses and industry. "They can come to Penn State and deliver presentations or our students can travel to their facilities for tours."

Eventually, Lynch would like to build an advisory board of representatives who will serve as guest speakers, sponsor and judge company case study competitions and provide feedback on curriculum.

For more information about the B.E.G., contact Merritt at cjm5553@psu.edu.

Last Updated January 16, 2015