University of Tennessee

First Combined Business / Engineering Cohort Graduates with Abundant Accomplishments

June 29, 2021

The initial Heath Integrated Business and Engineering Program (Heath IBEP) cohort, which started the program in 2017 in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business and Tickle College of Engineering with seven Haslam students and 10 Tickle students, accomplished much before graduating last year. Among their achievements:

  • 70 percent graduated with honors
  • Six secured Chancellor’s Honors
  • Five earned Tickle Honors
  • Four were recognized for extraordinary academic achievement
  • Four received UT Volunteers of Distinction awards
  • 100 percent held internships in 2019

Members of the cohort also attained 100 percent job placement. With the assistance of program director Mary Pile and staff from Haslam and Tickle career advancement offices, they dispersed to 13 companies and four graduate schools in 10 states, with an average starting salary of $67,000.

During their first semester in the program, the then-sophomore students completed a capstone project. In it, they helped corporate partner Local Motors design a prototype ticketing kiosk for a driverless bus stop system for the City of Knoxville. In their junior year, they worked on projects for Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, Tennessee Small Business Development Center, Knoxville Area Urban League, Knoxville Chamber and the Service Core of Retired Executives (SCORE). They also were the first students to participate in Tickle’s Interdisciplinary Senior Design Capstone projects, which included eight company-sponsored projects. These undertakings required them to consider the projects from multiple angles such as design, functionality, cost and customer appeal.

“Students in the first cohort to graduate from the Heath IBEP were leaders in every respect,” Pile says. “Trailblazers in a new, hybrid academic undertaking, innovators with our partner companies, go-getters in a daunting job market. I can’t wait to see where their leadership takes them next.”

As graduates of a novel initiative that unites two academic disciplines to prepare graduates to explore real-world problems from a holistic, systemic viewpoint, these alumni are exemplars of the next generation of business and engineering leaders.

Cooper Atteberry, who is now a consulting analyst with ProcureAbility in Denver, appreciates how the program equipped him to deal with challenges in workaday life.

“IBEP prepared me for the business world by providing complex, real-world problems that typically did not have preconceived right or wrong answers,” Atteberry says. “It encouraged me to use creativity while addressing daunting tasks, which contributes to my success in business by instilling confidence in my ability to tackle problems of virtually any size.”

Linden Hardee, who is pursuing his MAcc at Haslam, acknowledges that the program taught him to look at problems from a variety of perspectives, which, he says, is extremely important when working with people from different backgrounds.

“Heath IBEP provided a lot of great, real-world experience that directly translated to the business world,” he says. “I had little initial understanding of the engineering projects that we worked on, so it certainly helped me become a better problem-solver and a quick learner.”

Kali Holt, an associate production manager in Textron’s weapon systems unit in Wilmington, Mass., says the program honed her leadership abilities.

“One day, I hope to build a business empire,” she says. “I’m not sure what that looks like, but I know I’m equipped to do that because of this program. Heath IBEP prepared us to take any path we desired, whether in a technical role, a corporation, as entrepreneurs and as citizens of the world.”

About the Heath Integrated Business and Engineering Program

The program pairs an industry-focused curriculum with immersive, professional, co-curricular experiences to graduate leaders with a comprehensive, systems-thinking approach to breaking down silos and solving challenges. Graduates will understand the intersections between business and engineering, bringing depth and value to both fields from day one.

The program is named for Ralph Heath, a retired president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, who was instrumental in its creation. Heath, who holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Tickle College of Engineering and an MBA from the Haslam College of Business, is a longtime supporter of both colleges. To learn more about the program, sign up for the quarterly newsletter.


Scott McNutt, business writer/publicist,