Bridge to Business program provides engineers with new skills

Engineers will have the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of business  from a new summer program.

Bridge to Business for Engineers is a 14-day, immersive program, sponsored by Milwaukee-based Rexnord Corporation, and is designed to teach engineers business essentials. “We hope participants will leave with an understanding of the different parts of business and how those parts can help produce a better product,” Kevin Walsh, an adjunct instructor in the College of Business Administration, said. “We think there’s a need for engineers to have a better appreciation for business skills.”

The program is targeted at new graduates in the early phases of their career. Beginning this summer, over two sessions, participants will learn the ways in which business concepts interact with engineering. Faculty in the College of Business Administration will teach many of the courses offered in the program. Walsh said more sessions are expected to continue into 2018 and beyond.

“Business is highly interactive,” Walsh said. “Different areas are very dependent on one another and engineers need to understand the financial restraints there might be. They need to understand the pros and cons of using one material over another.”

Lessons covering finance, marketing, supply chain management and other integral business disciplines will be covered through lectures, discussions, case studies and visits from experts in the industry.

Rexnord, an industrial company, presented Marquette with the $1 million donation to make the program a reality. Dan Glusick, Rexnord vice president of engineering and innovation, said that it is a requirement for their engineers to engage in business practices. “We solve customer problems, simplify supply chain work, streamline our internal operations and more,” Glusick said.

Glusick mentioned that Rexnord recognizes that early career engineers lack these business skills and need to be exposed to them in order to advance.

“We believe that sponsorship of the Marquette University Bridge to Business Program will enhance the ability of participants to solve real world problems, improve engagement and contribution of engineers on the job and raise the bar with the overall Milwaukee based technical talent pool,” Glusick said.

Colleen Dunlap, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, said she is already is experiencing the connection between engineering and business. “I currently work as a product owner on the software team I develop for,” she said. “I gather requirements for the software we produce and think about what the customer wants out of the product.”

Dunlap also participated in a hackathon, where she was part of a team that worked on a software project. “We ended up winning  because we tied our app back to the business case.”

Walsh said he believes the program will make engineers more valuable to employers. “The center piece of the program is a custom designed project where students will apply the lessons learned to a fictional business using the techniques learned in the program,” he said. “We’ll practice them and you’ll use them on a case study,” such as supply chain or finance.

Bridge to Business is not limited to Marquette alumni. Employees from local companies and individuals hoping to gain new skills can participate as well.