A passionate Big Orange fan with a mother and older sister who graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Linden Hardee’s college preference was never in doubt. The Brentwood native’s major, however, was more complicated. An initial plan to major in engineering was upended by his realization of a passion for business, particularly accounting. A quick switch of majors ensued. Thankfully, he discovered the Heath Integrated Business and Engineering Program (IBEP).
As the name suggests, the program offers a course of learning that provides hands-on instruction in how the discrete academic disciplines of business and engineering intersect in the real world. Hardee joined the program’s first student cohort.
“I saw it as a tremendous opportunity to satisfy my interests in both fields,” Hardee says.
The program taught him to develop a systems-thinking mindset and to communicate between the disparate disciplines of business and engineering.
“Engineers and business people have to work together at many companies, but they speak two completely different languages,” Hardee says. “I have learned to bridge the gap between the two fields to an extent, which is a huge advantage of the program.”
He threw himself into the program’s real-life capstone project, designing a prototype ticketing kiosk for a driverless bus stop system produced by Local Motors for the City of Knoxville.
“That taught me that you have to look at many aspects of a project – a legal side, a business side, an engineering side – things that have to be taken into account on just about any business project,” he says.
Through the program, he also had the opportunity to intern with commercial finance and lending firm JB&B Capital and spend six weeks at Capital Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain, studying international business while visiting local companies.
Outside of the classroom, Hardee found time to serve as a UT student ambassador, a student alumni associate and a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.
Having gained his bachelor’s degree, Hardee will soon head to Atlanta to intern with professional services firm EY. In the fall, he will enter the Haslam College of Business Master of Accountancy program and work to complete his CPA requirements before returning to Atlanta to work full time in assurance.
For business and engineering students weighing their academic options, the new alum strongly suggests applying to the Heath IBEP. In addition to learning a cross-disciplinary approach to both communication and solving real world problems, Hardee says the program provides students with beneficial networking connections throughout the business and engineering worlds.
“Do it,” he says. “It’s worth it.”
Scott McNutt, business writer/publicist, email@example.com