When choosing a college, I considered two things: the academic environment and the experiences the school (or program) could offer. I grew up with serial-entrepreneurs for parents, so I wanted to choose a place that was both interdisciplinary and hands-on in nature.
For me, Penn was the best academic environment to regularly learn with and from other skillsets. Because the school promotes a “cross-disciplinary education,” I’ve had days when I’d spend my mornings solving problems on signal processing with other engineers, review a Starbucks case study with a current MBA student by lunch, work with 3D printers and School of Design students in the afternoon, and then collaborate on an Amazon production functions problem set with other M&Ts at night. The dual-degree education style pushes me daily to orientate and re-orientate a large variety of material in exciting different ways. And I’ve found the equal emphasis on a business and engineering major, as opposed to one major and minor, helps me uniquely frame day-to-day situations.
Describing the experiences here can be a bit difficult since it varies for everyone. But personally Penn turned out to be a hands-on place that builds business and technology around inevitable trends: climate change, resource scarcity, finance, robotics, social impact, computer applications, transportation, investment banking, healthcare management, international relations…you name it. The people here — fellow M&Ts, undergrads, graduate students, and student clubs — are all serious about best preparing themselves and contributing to their fields of interest. Take the emerging trends of world impact and startups as examples. In just the past few years, students here have been working to create new social impact clubs and initiatives, establish startup funds and mentoring services, dedicate more consulting practices to local communities, and host popular software and hardware hackathons (i.e. PennApps, Penn Play, PennHacks).
Ultimately, I knew that the most important thing was to find an environment that provided the best tools for business and engineering (not just one). At Penn and in M&T, the people I’m surrounded with and the experiences I have could offer nothing more.
Serena is a current M&T in the Class of 2017 from Torrance, California. She is contemplating studying either Systems Science or Electrical Engineering within Penn Engineering and has yet to declare her concentration in the Wharton School.