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Engineering and Business: Two Peas in a Pod

March 22, 2017

About Me

Marie Mitchell is a fifth-year student in the College of Engineering pursing both her Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Master of Science in Engineering Management. She has completed three co-ops and is a Galante Engineering Business Program Fellow. She has held leadership roles in NU Tau Beta Pi, Society of Women Engineers, and Enabling Engineering. In her free time, she enjoys running, playing volleyball, traveling, and volunteering.

Engineering and Business: Two Peas in a Pod

As many of my peers, one of my main reasons for choosing to attend Northeastern was for the experiential cooperative education program. As such, throughout my undergraduate career, I was sure to complete three very different co-ops to maximize my experience and understanding of the endless possibilities that exist within my field of electrical engineering. My first two co-ops were at Philips Color Kinetics and Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. At both companies, research funding was not limited and projects were not heavily directed by funding sources. However, at my final and favorite co-op at BionX Medical Technologies, a small medical device start-up which makes power assist prosthetic ankles, R&D was heavily guided by the funding available and impacted all engineering decisions.

Knowing that I wanted to head into the medical/assistive device industry after graduation, these experiences highlighted the information that was at the time unavailable in my engineering curriculum – how to perform effectively as an engineer in a business world. While you must know how to technically perform the engineering skills required of your position, being able to understand how your work impacts the company and make effective economic decisions are basic skills that I think every engineer should possess when entering the workforce. I had a desire to apply to a combined BSEE and MS Engineering Management program in order to understand the entire picture of how an engineering business runs. However, at the time I was looking, no such program existed.

I contacted Dr. Kris Jaeger-Helton who, with the COE Deans, spearheaded the effort in other COE departments to get a similar new curriculum approved. She, and many others, assisted in helping get the BSEE/MSEM curriculum approved just in time for me to apply, be accepted, and be able to complete the curriculum in my time left at Northeastern. I am very grateful for all their efforts as the program has given me the valuable insight I was looking to gain.

My first few engineering management courses sparked my interest in potentially pursing an MBA at some point in my future career. The Galante Engineering Business Program here at Northeastern provides students in the Engineering Management master’s program with the opportunity to gain firsthand experience about what an MBA program may offer them. Fellows take four classes now that count towards their current MSEM and towards an MBA at Northeastern in the future.

Again, I worked with Dr. Kris Jaeger-Helton to understand the Galante Engineering Business program and how it would benefit my experience specifically. When I decided it was an opportunity I wanted to pursue, she assisted me in my application and I was accepted to be a Fellow.

The Galante Program offers monthly programs to Fellows, which correspond to classes we take during the program as well as provide us with opportunities to explore topics of interest outside of the classroom. Many of these are open to anyone in the COE population; you find them in the Gazette or linked on the Galante Engineering Business website - http://www.coe.neu.edu/galante. Some programs I have been fortunate to attend are: hearing from C. Paul Oberg about working in consulting and how he then started his own consulting group; working with David L. Marino to transform our communication skills resulting in more effective leadership; and hearing from Ed Wertheim about the keys to organizational behavior and effective negotiation.

As my experience at Northeastern is coming to a close and I reflect back on my five years, I am extremely grateful for all the wonderful opportunities that were both presented to me and those that I had the courage to pursue on my own. First hand industry experience combined with my Engineering Management and Galante Engineering Business courses have prepared me to enter the workforce post-graduation in the medical/assistive device field as I had hoped, and I look forward to what the future holds.