Partners in Innovation

Tara Campbell, right, a senior Project and Supply Chain Management major, and her internship supervisor, Keith Szewczyk, CEO and director of Bliley Technologies.

Tara Campbell, right, a senior Project and Supply Chain Management major, and her internship supervisor, Keith Szewczyk, CEO and director of Bliley Technologies.

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Businesses and students team up to learn from—and with—one another

Every business can benefit from a fresh perspective. Whether a company needs help solving an age-old problem or a few innovative minds to explore a new idea or product, the Black School of Business can help, using the school’s Innovating Through Collaboration (ITC) program.

Established two years ago to encourage learning partnerships between academia and industry, the ITC program brings business leaders together with students and faculty members to work on company-specific projects.

Students get experience and businesses get help with tasks they may have had on the back burner.

Black School students have completed a variety of finance, marketing, and general business ITC projects for clients such as Advanced Finishing USA, UPMC Hamot, and Seaway Manufacturing.

Tara Campbell, a senior Project and Supply Chain Management major, was part of an ITC team working on a project for Bliley Technologies last spring. The Erie company was so happy with Campbell’s work that they asked her to continue on as an intern while finishing her final year at Penn State Behrend.

“One of the projects that I started working on in May, and am still working on, is managing every quote that is sent out,” she said. “I’m also working with a large team of people on revamping Bliley’s distribution process using an ERP system.”

Campbell said her time at Bliley has given her an understanding of what it’s like to work in the real world and has helped her hone skills she could not have developed in a classroom alone, including a greater sense of professionalism, more confidence in her career direction, and improved communication skills.

“After being part of the inside sales team and working closely with Keith Szewczyk, CEO and director of Bliley Technologies, over the summer, I can see a huge difference in the way I think in the classroom this semester,” she said. “Concepts and models are clearer to me now that I can apply them to my experiences at Bliley. It’s nice to know the material I am studying is actually being used in industry right now.”

Szewczyk said the Black School’s ITC program is beneficial to all involved. “This is a win-win for the company and for the students and the ITC program.”