B-E-T Students Travel to India and the UK for Design Project

Published: Feb 8, 2006 11:22:19 AM
Media Contact: , newsroom@eng.auburn.edu,

New product development teams are the foundation of successful businesses such as Hewlett-Packard, SONY, Texas Instruments, GE and thousands of other well-known companies. The Business-Engineering-Technology (B-E-T) minor at Auburn University teaches selected students in both business and engineering the skills for launching new products through teamwork.

In December, Auburn's B-E-T program sent two students to Chennai, India, to work on a design project with students at the Indian Institute of Technology of Madras (IIT-Madras).

David Alan Jackson, a senior in electrical engineering, and Erin Allen, a senior in entrepreneurship and family business, traveled to India to work with two IIT students on a construction project of Larsen & Toubro Limited, a large Indian firm with significant projects around the world. The students went under the supervision of management professor Chetan Sankar.

"This trip was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done," Jackson said.

In January, four more B-E-T students went abroad for their product development experience. Jonathan MacDonald, a senior in wireless engineering, John Peterson, a senior in finance, Andrew Rhodes, a senior in operations management, and Claire Schrantz, a senior in civil engineering, traveled to the United Kingdom to work with four students from the University of Plymouth on a team project involving a remote-controlled undersea vehicle. This team's supervisor was marketing professor Danny Butler.

"This experience prepared me to interact with clients in a global economy," Macdonald said. "It also has strengthened my understanding of other cultures as an important part of preparing for the workplace both at home and internationally."

The trips abroad are part of a required capstone design course offered by the B-E-T program and instructed by industrial engineering professor Bob Bulfin.

"We got a great deal of the design work completed in the United Kingdom," Rhodes said. "It was critical that we go overseas for the project, instead of just exchanging ideas through a video conference."

Auburn's Thomas Walter Center for Technology Management, which houses the B-E-T program, is an expression of the strong collaboration between the colleges of engineering and business.

"There is no better preparation for working in product development and product launching teams in blue-chip American firms," said Paul Swamidass, director of the Thomas Walker Center. "Our students benefit immensely by working on these projects with students in other countries, a unique experience not available to students from even the best private universities in the United States."

Over the last two years, the B-E-T program has sent 12 students to the University of Plymouth for similar team-based design projects. The program has also hosted 12 students from the University of Plymouth to complete their joint design projects with Auburn B-E-T students.

Admission to the program for Fall 2006 is currently open to business and engineering sophomores. Interested students with a GPA greater than 3.0 are encouraged to apply on-line as soon as possible at http://eng.auburn.edu/center/twc/BET/index.htm

For information on the B-E-T program, contact Paul Swamidass, swamidas@auburn.edu