Engineering grads: getting down to business

Creative Partnerships

Engineering grads: getting down to business

Business, engineering and a Milwaukee manufacturer join forces for engineering grads.  

by Christopher Stolarski

These graduates are very competent engineers, but they don’t have enough appreciation for the business side.” That’s what Keyes Dean of Business Administration Brian Till says his college often hears from businesses that employ engineering graduates.

The Opus College of Engineering, College of Business Administration and Milwaukee-based manufacturer Rexnord are joining forces to address that shortcoming with a concept that Till says has been “bubbling up for years.” The result is Bridge to Business, an immersive, four-week experience to give early career engineers business fundamentals.

“As engineers advance in their careers, their leadership of major projects and new ventures is greatly influenced by their business acumen and their ability to see how innovation and technology development fit into the bigger picture,” says Dr. Kristina Ropella, Opus Dean of Engineering.

Bridge to Business is supported by a $1 million gift from Rexnord. The first cohort of approximately 20 participants is set to begin this summer, soon after most members of this inaugural class pick up their engineering degrees from Marquette. Through a blend of classroom and real-world interactive learning opportunities, program participants will study the integration of business disciplines, including finance, marketing, supply chain management and information technology — all with an engineering overlay.

“Bridge to Business was designed specifically with engineers in mind, with input from faculty and leadership from both colleges, as well as our business community partners,” says Kevin Walsh, adjunct instructor of business and a professional engineer who helped lead the program’s development. “What’s more, it represents an excellent example of the productive partnership between engineering and business to advance Marquette’s vision of innovation and collaboration.”


  1. When I attended Marquette Engineering, I joined the cooperative program, where I attended school for a term, then worked at AO Smith for a term & so on. It took an extra year, but I didn’t have to work while I was in school. My grades picked up dramatically, going from C- to A-.
    Also I had a first hand experience at communicating & working with real live engineers AND the other departments (like Marketing & Production). We had to report progress, product performance & estimated cost. So, communications was of ultimate importance.
    A real great creator & developer of a new product is wonderful, but he has to be able to communicate to all for it to be useful & productive.

  2. When we consider that everything in our society depends upon the “economics” of its value it is not possible for one to obtain a complete engineering education without the tools permitting an engineer to evaluate the economic viability of a project. Without funding, a project has little possibility of being accomplished. Without a financial sponsor a project also has little possibility of being accomplished. When something is so important as to be the determinant of the “go” or “no go” decision it has to be included in the engineer’s education. The “economics” of a college education keep putting on the pressure to limit an engineering to four years but in reality five years are necessary to provide an engineer with a diverse background necessary to compete.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

nine + six =