My first realization of the business-engineering connection came during the summer leading into my high school junior year. That summer, I attended the Engineering Summer at Penn (ESAP), and my class visited a biotechnology firm. The technology was amazing! There was state-of-the-art machinery, gigantic centrifuges, and scientists all over the place. Despite all the impressive infrastructure, the company had yet to make any significant impact, because its drug was too expensive!
This really hit home when the newly appointed director of business, a Wharton alum, came to speak to us. As he spoke about the business side of the company, I realized great technology doesn’t affect lives unless there is a driving force behind it. That driving force is business. That revelation—from a technology-focused biotechnology program—is the most memorable lesson I learned that summer. This essential connection drove me to participate in the M&T summer program, M&TSI, and eventually apply to M&T.
At Penn, I recently had the opportunity to listen to a talk by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. What he said perfectly describes what I learned during ESAP: “What I really wanted to do was go to business school. I knew that management would complement my engineering training.” Unlike any other program, M&T truly teaches students that business is inherent to engineering. This integration is what will drive innovation in the future, and what I experience day-to-day.
As a member of the inaugural class participating in the redesigned M&T Integration Lab, I saw this upfront in OIDD 399, the M&T Freshman seminar, in which we were tasked to build business plans around innovative technologies. Every time I collaborate with M&Ts on a project, I see this business/tech integration come alive. I see it every time M&Ts participate in PennApps. I see it every time I go into the M&T office, looking at all the whiteboards filled with equations representing the business, math, science, and engineering skills we all hold.
M&T is a rewarding program because of the unique insights it challenges students to gain, and even more unique as a community. I love working with other M&Ts and planning events as a part of the M&T Student Board—events such as a fireside chat with the CEO of Wealthfront, a seminar with Lyft, and M&Thanksgiving. M&T offers the best of both business and engineering, and it is truly refreshing and mesmerizing to be standing at the intersection of the two at one place: M&T.
Jason Xian is an electrical engineering major and math minor concentrating in entrepreneurial management and finance.