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KU Engineering launches Career Accelerator Lecture Series

Friday, August 28, 2020

LAWRENCE — Engineering students at the University of Kansas will have a new opportunity to learn more about the business side of their profession in a new lecture series starting this fall.

The Career Accelerator Lecture Series will feature members of the School of Engineering Advisory Board speaking on topics such as management and leadership, ethics and teamwork. The first lecture — by Rich Smith of Henderson Engineers — is scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2.

“The KU School of Engineering advisory board was looking for ways to help our students develop professional skills that are often not part of a regular classroom environment, like leadership, teamwork and communication,” said Robert Parsons, professor of civil, environmental & architectural engineering. The new lecture series will help students “understand what it is to be a professional, how a professional thinks and acts and fills their role in society.”

Brandy Johnson, who graduated from KU in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, will speak Oct. 28 about business and engineering.

“The engineering curriculum is jam-packed, and there isn’t a lot of room for courses on leadership, business theories and ethics, which requires the students to learn these skills on the job,” she said. “These skills are important and will contribute to their success, not just as a leader or a manager, but as bright business engineers. You’re always trying to champion your product or idea, and you need to know how to communicate your idea and collaborate with other disciplines to launch your product.”

The full list of speakers and topics:

  • Sept. 2: Rich Smith, Henderson Engineers: management and leadership.
  • Sept. 16: Pat Oenbring, Hawkwood Energy: teamwork, communication, and collaboration.
  • Sept. 30: Kyle Mathis, Chevron Phillips: environmental, legal, and ethical implications of engineering.
  • Oct. 14: Craig Martin, Jacobs Engineering: safety.
  • Oct. 28: Brandy Johnson, Koch Engineered Solutions: business and engineering.
  • Nov. 11: Angela Chammas, technology futurist/speaker/author/coach: leadership.

“Students who are early in their programs – a lot of times when you’re early in an engineering program, you see a lot of physics and math and chemistry and wonder how it will connect to your future career. This will help them make a connection to people who have been through that — to help them see the goal,” Parsons said. “Hopefully it will give them a little bit of wisdom, some hope and encouragement as they’re dealing with getting through Calc 2.”

“My message to the students is they need to take full advantage of this,” Johnson said. “It will give them an advantage in interviews and in the workplace. The concepts presented in the series are from success engineers with many years of experience in industry.”

All the lectures will take place at 4 p.m. and will take place online through the School of Engineering. Go here to register.


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