Purdue business school launches new degree that blends management and engineering
Krannert partners with storied College of Engineering for joint offering that meets industry needs
Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management has solidified its commitment to evolve with industry needs by launching a unique new BS degree program, Integrated Business and Engineering (IBE).
Krannert created the IBE program to prepare students to tackle industries’ largest issues, from clean energy to pandemic disease response, says David Hummels, Krannert’s Dr. Samuel R. Allen Dean. Solutions often sit at the intersection of disciplines, he notes.
“When we talk to our industry partners they increasingly are running into challenges that defy conventional solutions,” Hummels says. “They’re looking at problems that span functional boundaries, that require integration of expertise.”
IBE will prepare leaders comfortable in many worlds and fluent in many vocabularies. It is a joint program with Purdue’s renowned College of Engineering. In this challenging program, students take first-year engineering courses, followed by a combination of management and engineering classes. The cohort-based program launched in fall 2021 with nearly double the expected number of elite freshmen, 80% from out-of-state.
IBE is a university learning community with a residential component, meaning students can opt to live in the same residence hall. Learning community students benefit from structured extracurricular activities including dinner with instructors, exam study groups and more.
Applications for next fall are running high, Hummels says, as top incoming students recognize IBE is an extraordinary opportunity to combine two critical disciplines.
Transforming Education Through Innovation
“We have IBE seminars that will adapt and adjust based on the current needs and desires of both industry and what the students are interested in, to make sure we’re focusing on those future careers,” says IBE Program Director Ryan Case.
IBE’s unique experiential courses give these undergraduate students the opportunity to work with students and faculty from different majors and disciplines.
This integration creates the authentic experience of working in teams with diverse approaches and talents, says the College of Engineering’s Alina Alexeenko.
“This is what industry needs and wants,” she says.
As associate dean for undergraduate education in the College of Engineering, Alexeenko hears from IBE students that they value the opportunity to work with engineers from many disciplines and to interact with external partners such as NASA.
“In turn, our engineering students benefit from the skill set and knowledge that IBE students bring to the teams from their Krannert coursework in accounting, management and information strategies,” she says.
Community Service and Integrated Projects
“The opportunities we provide students to work with students with different backgrounds, different perspectives, and different cultures create a much richer experience for everyone,” says Matthew Lynall, a clinical professor of management and the director of Purdue’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship.
In the year-long Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) course, students are creating engineered solutions for developing countries, from language translation apps to teaching aids to water treatment solutions, Lynall says. He oversees EPICS, instructing the student teams.
IBE students participating in Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) work with research labs across campus on emerging technologies with the goal of moving that tech toward commercialization.
In a case competition his first semester at Krannert, IBE student Gia Bao Tran experienced firsthand the power of merging technical skills and business acumen.
“We had to use our technical skills to understand and analyze the product of a tech company. From there, we used our business knowledge to act as consultants and form a business plan of action by playing to the technical strength of our product,” he says.
Tran says IBE’s blend of business and engineering curriculum is “what is needed in the job market at the moment.”
Student Sam Wadlington says the IBE program has bolstered his internship applications.
“Without IBE, I would definitely not be interning at Rolls-Royce this summer,” Wadlington says. “The unique mix of business and engineering helps me understand things from a technical, engineering perspective while also connecting that to a cost-effective, business mindset.”
Alyssa Younker says her IBE courses have helped her focus on efficiency and the importance of communication.
“I have learned to translate more technical terms into common language and feel I could explain whatever project I am working on to someone who has no experience in either the business or engineering field,” she says.
An Exchange Between Krannert Faculty and Industry Professionals
Curriculum stays relevant thanks to a consistent, meaningful interplay between faculty and industry professionals.
“One of the most interesting interactions that I've seen play out over my time as dean is watching the exchange that occurs between a faculty member who’s thought very, very deeply about a problem for years and someone in industry who is struggling with the application of solutions to that problem,” Hummels says.
This exchange is extremely valuable, he says, because without understanding the deep problem, it’s difficult for industry to move forward. And, without understanding the problems that industry is actually trying to solve, “faculty can wander around in a bit of a wilderness of ideas and theories that are really interesting to other academics, but are not so relevant to the actual practice of business.”
So, Krannert’s faculty and the curriculum they develop and teach stay ahead of industry needs and trends by participating in an important give-and-take.
In one example, Hummels notes the enormous amounts of data businesses collect: on people, behaviors, processes and more. Businesses are looking for ways to create value from that data, but don’t always know how to gain the most meaningful insights.
“Our faculty are experts at that problem,” Hummels says. “How is it that I take a business problem, turn it into a data problem and then turn that data problem into a business insight?”
Krannert faculty and the school’s research centers are primed to collaborate with industry to harness the full power of data.
A Powerful Alumni Network
Krannert also partners with its vast network of alumni working in many industries around the world, including two CEOs of Fortune 500 companies – Dave Ricks, chair and chief executive officer of Eli Lilly and Company, and Gregory Hayes, chairman and chief executive officer of Raytheon Technologies Corporation.
Alumni leaders in the business world give back to the school by mentoring students, participating in consulting projects, advising on curriculum and programming, and more.
IBE’s creation was made with the support of alumni who believe the program is well aligned to the needs of students and employers.
“It will be a unique degree that only Purdue is positioned to offer,” alumna Maria Crowe, retired president of manufacturing operations at Eli Lilly, said prior to IBE’s launch.
Collaborating with alumni helps Krannert keep its curriculum relevant and directly applied to the problems that companies have, Dean Hummels says. And the school is providing opportunities for its undergraduate students to “show off” for alumni and for the organizations that benefit from Krannert consulting and research projects.
“Ultimately, we’re driving a lot of value also for our faculty, ensuring that their research and the kinds of problems that they’re tackling remain cutting edge and relevant to the world – as opposed to relevant to a decades-long academic intramural argument,” Hummels says.
Further illustrating its commitment to the needs of the real world, Krannert will welcome in fall 2022 students to two more new undergraduate majors: Business Analytics and Information Management and Supply Chain and Operations Management.
Learn more about Krannert’s ongoing mission to transform education through innovation.
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