Today we speak with Dan Nachtigall, a recent graduate who majored in Engineering Entrepreneurship from Atlantic County, NJ. Dan explains the importance of his major in the engineering field, learning how to collaborate, and his final project while offering insight for others thinking about pursuing the path.
What is Engineering Entrepreneurship?
Engineering Entrepreneurship is equitable to other engineering majors such as Mechanical Engineering or Electrical Engineering. The only difference is that the Engineering Entrepreneurship major incorporates more business-based classes where the other majors focus more on the deeper-based sciences. My major has about 90% of the same classes as the other engineering majors except for the higher level courses, which are substituted with business and entrepreneurship classes that will help me when I step out into my career path.
What are some of the business classes that you take in your major?
We go through classes like Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Product Development, Business Management, Finance, and other things of that nature. These classes help us learn to balance both the creative and management side of engineering.
Can you tell us more about your final project?
My final project is for the New Product Development course. In that course, there’s more of a focus on requests for proposal contracts. In the engineering field, everything will involve some sort of contract or a request for a proposal to bid to get a contract. It’s really important for engineers to have the ability to prepare, write and communicate about documents that they need to make with their company or their own businesses in order to reach the consumer.
What’s the importance of having that education?
It is really important for an engineer to not just be skilled in simply working in design. It’s important that they understand the industry as a whole. They need to know how to communicate with not only their fellow engineers but with the staff they will be working with as well. As much It’s important to be the designer and the one who’s leading the innovation, it’s also important to be able to support the people aiding you in bringing your ideas to life.
How does this program tailor to a different type of engineer, an engineer who isn’t straight mechanical or biomedical or anything else along those lines?
The reason this program stood out to me was that it appeals to all different types of engineers like technical engineers, operations engineers, or sales engineers. It’s not just someone doing data analysts. I don’t want to be the highest level engineer doing the calculations. I want to be one of the supporting engineers who’s on the shop floor of the business, doing more work with my hands.
How do collaborations work between you and your classmates?
In our major, we have a clinic class each semester. The clinic classes are designed to encourage teamwork and collaboration. Most of the work assigned is group projects and team exercise. During my first clinic freshman year, one of the things they had us for first was the spaghetti and marshmallow tower challenge. We had to use raw spaghetti to balance a marshmallow as high as we could. It was fun but it really emphasized the importance of teamwork, communication, and planning, all things are major values and prides itself on. It’s not just all about sitting behind a desk.
What’s your advice for students looking to get into engineering and may be interested in pursuing engineering entrepreneurship?
I know there’s a lot of students looking to get into engineering but believe it to be really daunting. It was daunting for me, but this program takes away some of the more daunting elements of engineering. Think about the type of engineer you want to be, the job you want to end up in, the type of engineering you enjoy as a hobby, and determine which branch of engineering you could see yourself going down. Take your time, find what’s good for you, and who knows? You might learn that entrepreneurship engineering is the route for you.
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Bianca Gray, English graduate