The College of Engineering has launched the Engineers in the Real World program, a series of in-class sessions with highly accomplished, engineering-educated professionals designed to help sophomore engineering students better understand their career options. The program aims to give these students, who take most of their prerequisite courses outside the College, a taste of the excitement of engineering and how it can uniquely position them to address many societal challenges.
“Our goal is to show our sophomores a variety of ways that a BU undergraduate engineering degree can be useful in solving real-world problems,” said Associate Professor Donald Wroblewski (ME), associate dean for educational initiatives. “The fundamental skill they will leave with—the ability to solve problems—can be applied to a wide range of endeavors and is in great demand.”
Made possible by the Joseph P. Healey (ENG ’88) Fund for Engineers in the Real World, the program will bring 12 speakers into EK301 (Mechanics I) and EK307 (Electric Circuits Theory) classrooms this fall. Visitors will include executives and entrepreneurs—many graduates of the College of Engineering—in information systems, defense, financial services, healthcare, entertainment and other industries.
Appearing during the second hour of class, the guest speakers will describe how their engineering education shaped their career, and facilitate case-based class discussions about challenging problems that their engineering skills helped them to solve. After presenting each problem and giving students a chance to explore how they would approach it, the speaker will share how he or she ultimately solved the problem.
The first speaker, Chris Bulger (ME ’82), managing director and founder of Bulger Capital, visited an EK307 class on September 21. After graduating from the College of Engineering and working as a professional engineer, Bulger earned an MBA degree at Yale University and spent the next two decades as an investment banker and venture capitalist with a focus on technology and services industries. He told EK307 students that the engineering mindset that he developed at BU equipped him to solve problems and speak the language of the technology companies that he’s advised.
EK307 student Christopher Woodall (EE ’14) emerged from the presentation with a deeper appreciation for the many career directions open to engineering undergraduates.
“The skills you learn as an engineer, combined with an open mind and desire to learn, can bring you almost anywhere you want to be,” said Woodall, who envisions a career involving entrepreneurship, computer programming and electrical engineering.
Ryan Lagoy (ECE ’14) enjoyed learning about how an engineer can apply his or her skills in ways that do not directly relate to science or engineering.
“Bulger shared his story about winning a litigation that involved fraud,” he said. “He studied the paperwork thoroughly and applied his problem-solving skills to make great arguments.”
Engineers in the Real World founder and funder Joseph Healey’s own career path illustrates what the program aims to showcase: the versatility and impact of an engineering education.
After studying biomedical engineering at BU, he joined the computer department of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he worked with doctors who had to link their complex medical technologies up with computers. This intensely practical technology education served him well when he went on to work as a portfolio manager with a specialty in health care at a series of New York–based investment firms. In 2005, he and a colleague launched the investment management firm HealthCor Group, today one of the largest health care and life sciences investment management firms in the United States, managing more than $3 billion in assets.
Healey plans to visit an EK301 classroom on September 29.
Jeffrey L. Cruikshank contributed to this article.