It was so simple; why hadn’t I thought of it before? It’d be easier, I’d be more comfortable, and life would be better. I couldn’t help but fist pump.
My new idea – modification to the waist strap of my backpack that allows for the user to pull in as opposed to out – usually wouldn’t elicit much enthusiasm in the average person. But as an avid climber from the mountains of Utah, I was amazed no one had ever done it before. I made the change to my pack, loved it, and started helping my family and friends modify their gear. I started designing ultralight stoves and customizing tents. Pretty soon, I realized there was a need for low-cost, ultralight outdoor gear, and I wanted to create the products and company to meet that need.
The only problem; I was a clueless high school student. I had always thought I’d be an engineer, but now I wasn’t so sure. I wrongly assumed a business degree would be 90% fluff and intuition, so why not try double majoring? In the end, M&T was my top choice thanks to the interdisciplinary approach of the program and the experience I had at M&T Day.
Penn’s brochures all emphasized an interdisciplinary approach to education, which is exactly what I was looking for. First, I wasn’t ready to make the decision to give up either business or engineering; I’d rather work harder and do both. But even more importantly, I didn’t want the two fields to develop into educational silos; in the real world they intimately interact, so why should college be any different? The M&T program seemed to regularly tie together your M-side and T-side (we even have specific classes for this), along with a healthy dose of politics and regulation. This is something I didn’t find in other dual-degree programs.
I took the red-eye from Salt Lake City to Philadelphia, and I barely made it in time for the morning student panel. Thankfully I did, as I was able to hear from an incredible M&T student that had morphed his senior design project into a hugely promising startup focusing on passive water treatment in developing areas. He talked about how Penn had provided free office space for them, provided mentorship through an on-campus startup accelerator, and even received funding through competitions. It sounded incredible to an aspiring entrepreneur like me. Each of the M&T students I met after that point had similarly incredible stories, and I was committed by the end of the day!