2023-24 Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies Newsletter

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In This Issue

New Things Going on in the Major

Carol Putman

The Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies (IBE) major continues to see success in its students and graduates. Over the past year, alumni and company managers have contacted us directly looking for IBE students to hire. Our most recent graduates accepted job offers regionally and nationally, from Washington, D.C., to Texas, and several are earning master’s degrees.

The yearlong IBE capstone course has seven teams working on sponsored projects. One is sustainability focused, and several are entrepreneurial. Status update presentations will be provided to the industry sponsors at the end of the fall semester, followed by full presentations at the annual Fasenmyer Engineering Design Conference in April. During the Spring 2023 semester, industry representatives visited the class for brief informational sessions about career opportunities. Representatives—including our alumni!—from Nestle Purina, CRT, and DLZ visited campus.

In February, we held our first annual IBE Day. A panel of four alumni shared their career experiences to date and how the major helped them. The end of the event was an open Q&A session for students attending. The second annual IBE Day was held in October, with a similar format.

Please enjoy the highlights provided in this newsletter. A special thank-you to Reagan James, current NOBE student club president, for coordinating the content.

Carol Putman
Disciplinary Lead for Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies
Associate Teaching Professor of Management

Alumni Spotlight

Erica Jewell ‘23

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Erica graduated in May with dual degrees in IBE and Finance.

Where are you currently working and what are your responsibilities?

I work at PPG Industries in Pittsburgh as a financial analyst for the Protective and Marine Coatings Department (USCA). I am also a part of the Financial Leadership Development Program.

My job focuses on updating USCA financial standard reporting, including daily, weekly, and monthly sales, key account management tracking, sales representatives’ headcount productivity, and monthly closing activities. I also work on ad hoc requests from global leadership.

What has been your biggest struggle transitioning from college to the workforce?

My biggest struggle was developing confidence in my abilities and knowledge.

What classes at Behrend helped you or prepared you for your current job?

My finance classes helped me with the financial aspect of my job, but my project management and IBE capstone classes helped me with the indirect and soft skills needed for my job.

What advice would you give students who are looking for a job?

Network with people where you eventually want to end up. If there is a specific position you are applying for, find and network with people within that company, including the hiring manager, people currently in that position, or people who have been in that position. It is very powerful to have people know your name.

Student Spotlight

Alexandra DeRusha

Alexandra DeRusha

Alexandra DeRusha is an IBE major who also pursued a minor in Finance and a certificate in Energy Finance. She graduated in December 2023.

IBE students can select a module. Which module did you select, and why?

I chose the energy finance module because I wanted to work in the energy industry, and I’m pursuing a certificate in Energy Finance because it could be beneficial to know more about the financial side of the industry.

What are your after graduation plans?

I have accepted a job with Westinghouse at their Warrendale location as a manufacturing project manager.

What has been your favorite thing about your major/module?

My favorite thing about my major (and my module) is that it combines many of the things I enjoy, such as engineering, leadership, and energy production. It has also led me to the world of project management, which is not something I had even considered until I started this major.

What was the biggest thing you learned during your time at Behrend?

What you get out of experiences is what you put into them, and to aim high because you might be surprised by what you can achieve.

Student Spotlight

Colby Alauzen 

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Colby Alauzen is pursuing an IBE major with a minor in Technical Sales. He plans to graduate in May 2024. He is involved with the Business Ambassador program and enjoys participating in clubs and intramural sports on campus.

What attracted you to Penn State Behrend?

I chose Penn State Behrend because of the vast networking opportunities and the amazing faculty. I have many relatives who attended Penn State, and through their recommendations and my own research, I believe I made a great decision. I specifically decided to choose Behrend because of the small class sizes that would allow me to build close relationships with both students and professors.

What is your favorite aspect of Behrend?

My favorite aspect of Penn State Behrend is the size. The small class sizes allow students to really get to know each professor, which helps the learning process. All professors are available for weekly office hours and can provide one-on-one help to ensure you understand the information. It is also very nice to have the same students in many of your classes which help to create friendships.

If you had one do-over at Behrend, what would it be?

If I could have one do-over at Behrend, it would be to get involved sooner. It was not until the end of my sophomore year that I began participating in clubs and intramurals on campus. I have met so many great friends through these events and encourage everyone to get involved in campus events sooner, rather than later!

NOBE Club Update


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The National Organization for Business and Engineering (NOBE) is a national society uniting business, management, and engineering organizations from universities coast to coast. NOBE strives to produce and refine leadership internally and develop professional skills in members that can be translated into success in the business world. Through informative meetings, sometimes in partnership with the Entrepreneurship Club, members are exposed to a wide range of topics.

Highlights of the fall semester include:

  • Joint Event with Entrepreneurship Club: The NOBE club teamed up with the Entrepreneurship club to meet and mingle with students interested in learning more about entrepreneurship.
  • NOBE Fall Virtual Conference: The national NOBE Fall Virtual Conference was held in October. It was a great event that allowed club members to join via Zoom for a presentation on AI technology and how to leverage it for business and personal goals.
  • Speaker Event with Aleksey Krylov: The NOBE club hosted Aleksey Krylova, CFO and entrepreneur, who shared his story and spoke about his companies. This event was an excellent opportunity for students to hear what it is like to start a business, how to navigate mistakes, and how to look to the future.

The board members of the NOBE club have had several meetings to discuss future events for the upcoming spring semester. Additionally, the club is working on sending some members to the NOBE National Spring Case competition held in Canada.

Celebrating Behrend's 75th Anniversary

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We are busy celebrating Penn State Behrend's 75th anniversary! A fun fact: The Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies major was approved by the Board of Trustees on July 11, 2008, and is a joint major with the School of Engineering. In 2008, students were using the Motorola RAZR V3 flip phone and the Ford F-Series topped the list of most purchased cars. Flo Rida—who performed this summer in Erie—was trending along with Alicia Keys.

Find out more fun facts about Behrend's history.