Students Chosen for New Engineering/MBA Program

The first six students have been chosen for a new engineering program starting this fall that combines business and engineering coursework, allowing students to pursue engineering management positions or business leadership roles.

The Galante Engineering and MBA Program is an interdisciplinary effortthat offers each student a bachelor’s of engineering and master’s of business administration degrees in six years.“The power of the program is in the combination of the disciplined, problem-solving strategies of an engineer and the broader businessunderstanding derived from an MBA,” said Ken Cordio, director of the program.

Established with a $5 million pledge by Northeastern trustee and engineering alumnus Edward Galante, a retired senior vice president of Exxon Mobil, and his wife, Cathie, the program will enable the scholars to begin taking MBA evening courses this fall in addition to their engineering coursework. 

By the end of their undergraduate careers, students will have taken at least three graduate-level business courses and will have completed a business-oriented co-op job on top of two engineering co-op positions. For 16 months after receiving their bachelor’s, students will take a full load of MBA courses, as well as participate in a corporate residency working in a business capacity managing projects.

Cordio said the program’s interdisciplinary approach allows students leaning toward an engineering management position to better understand the way businesses operate. For those who, on the other hand, strive to become successful business leaders, he said the technical aspects of the program allow students— especially in an age of increasingly technical products and services — to communicate more effectively with technologists.

“While the MBA component of the program exposes students to a cross-pollination of ideas and helps them become better technical leaders,” Cordio said, “the engineering training provides students the decision-making and problem-solving skills that are in high demand.” The initial students selected are from the engineering class of 2010. The top 20 percent of that class received an invitation to apply to the  program. Twenty students took advantage of the opportunity. Cordio said the ideal candidates were those who displayed a strong academic record, demonstrated leadership skills and maintained a clear disposition toward the ways in which an educational foundation in business would help further their future career goals. Interpersonal skills and the ability to collaborate across disciplines, as well as overall professionalism, were also factors in the selection process. “We were really impressed with the quality of applicants,” Cordio said. “It was very difficult to separate the cream from the cream.” In addition to the students who begin in the fall, five incoming freshmen of high distinction have been awarded scholarships from the Galante Program.

Cordio said the freshmen will make company visits and attend events, alumni panels and seminar series’ on business and engineering related topics to remain connected and engaged in the program until they begin taking MBA courses their junior year. Kareem Ghobrial, a junior mechanical engineering student selected for the program, said it supplements his engineering education and provides him with insight into the ways in which markets and companies
operate. “To be a strong contributor,” Ghobrial said, “students need technical knowledge as well as business savvy. With an engineering background, I’m able to think logically and problem solve. With an MBA, I will be able to problem solve for customers, identify their product needs and find ways to improve products.” Ghobrial, who maintains a 4.0 GPA, is currently employed in a co-op position at General Electric Aviation in Lynn, Mass. There, he examines how helicopter engines perform under different temperature, altitude and humidity conditions. Often, he uses what he calls “technical, hardcore engineering” skills to analyze and substantiate engine data to provide customers and pilots in the Army with the information they need to effectively pilot their aircraft.

He hopes to one day be the CEO of General Electric. “It’s been my dream since I was a kid to be the next Jack Welch,” Ghobrial said. “I’ve admired what General Electric has done for a long time and it’s one of those things, in the back of my mind, that drives me. The Galante Program will help me get there.” Meanwhile, Chelsey Bowman, a junior industrial engineer accepted to the program, is on her second co-op job with Intel working with engineers in its Lithography Automated Process Control department. She said students need more than an industrial engineering degree to excel in today’s corporate world.

“An MBA will help me stand out from other engineers and make it possible for me to become a corporate leader,” she said. “I realize that today's economy is a global market, and I need to have superior business knowledge besides my engineering education. This dual knowledge of understanding technology and business will make me a marketable employee to companies in the global marketplace.”

Besides Ghobrial and Bowman, the following juniors have been selected to the program: Mark Epstein in industrial engineering; Lindsey Maree Mathews in chemical engineering; Caitlin Palmer in civil engineering and Thomas Peacock in mechanical engineering.

The following freshmen received Galante scholarships: Patrick Becker; John Chase; Alexander Cooley; Michael Farragher and Kevin McLarnon.