The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Haslam College of Business and Tickle College of Engineering have partnered to create a new cross-disciplinary learning experience for undergraduate students. The Integrated Business and Engineering Program (IBEP) brings a cohort of 20 to 30 students together for three years of course work focusing on applying engineering processes in a business setting.
“There is a large educational gap between engineering and business students, where the business graduate understands the supply process much better than the engineer graduate and the latter grasps the design and production aspects much better than the former,” said Masood Parang, associate dean of academic and student affairs in the Tickle College of Engineering. “This program integrates the education of the two groups, and in so doing fills a major need in the real world.”
The program was developed with the help of Ralph Heath, a retired president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics and member of Haslam and Tickle College’s advisory boards, who experienced the need for better communication between product developers and business strategists first-hand during his career.
IBEP aims to develop professionals who have a systems approach to decision making and can understand how their decisions affect organizations as a whole. Engineering students will gain knowledge of managerial and financial goals, while business students will learn engineering approaches to problem solving along with insight into the engineering design process.
“With that unique, dual perspective, graduates can make a lifetime impact in industry,” said Lane Morris, associate dean of undergraduate studies and student affairs at Haslam. “Moving through these classes together also helps them teach each other, as they can bring a greater depth to their respective disciplines.”
Mary Brow will serve as the new program’s director, joining the university from DeRoyal Industries in May. Brow has more than a decade of industry experience as a process engineer and is an alumnus of Haslam’s Professional MBA.
“Mary has direct experience in the work setting for which we hope to prepare students,” Morris said. “She brings a wealth of knowledge that can help both engineering and business students gain the foundation for greater success in the workplace.”
IBEP begins in the fall of 2017 and will include joint classes on business leadership, communications and process thinking over three years. In their final year, students will take a capstone class in which they solve a real, industry problem at the intersection of business and engineering.
The program also features co-curricular activities such as guest lectures and site visits, mentorship opportunities with alumni and a $1,000 scholarship for each student. IBEP students will graduate with a special concentration, but the program requires no additional coursework hours.