Engineering needs business


    Many readers may not be aware that I teach entrepreneurship as an executive-in-residence at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Each fall, I get 100 to 140 new students for my class in New Venture Development.

    The class is mainly filled with senior undergraduates. A number of years ago we eliminated prerequisite requirements for anyone who is not a business student and wants to take the class. This allowed us to get more students into the class from the College of Engineering and other colleges in the university — and what a good change that was!

    It is amazing now how many engineering students are taking this class. These students like engineering but realize there is nothing wrong with also having business skills to complement their analytic and design skills. Student teams that include engineering students really do come up with better business ideas. Business needs engineering — badly! Engineering students are creative and yet practical. They think things through and, as a result, come up with a business plan that, were it implemented, would probably be more successful than those created by business students alone.

    At the same time, engineering needs business. There’s nothing wrong with being able to communicate, sell, and understand finance and economics. Having that knowledge will make an engineer more successful no matter what they eventually do for employment — be it in the consulting industry or government.

    I really love it when my engineering students show interest in Civil + Structural Engineer’s sister publication, The Zweig Letter, which is all about the business of the A/E/C industry. Conversely, it is super-cool when business students want to subscribe to Civil + Structural Engineer. The fact is, we are all in this together — engineering and business — and we need both to solve the problems of the world today.

    Speaking of problems, it’s October. Be careful to avoid hitting trick-or-treaters if you are out driving on Halloween night. And don’t eat those “Mary Janes” your kids don’t want — they’ll tear out your fillings!

    Enjoy our October issue. Pass it around and let us know your feedback. Thanks for reading!

    Mark C. Zweig