Kummer Vanguard Scholars can’t wait to hear what you’ve learned out in the ‘real world’

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On February 25, 2024

One of the most effective — yet often overlooked — ways that accomplished alumni can help students succeed is by speaking to them directly.

Over the past couple of semesters, we’ve expanded the guest lecturer series and the colloquium program, which are two of the most popular ways that Kummer Vanguard Scholars connect with alumni to learn about their experiences beyond S&T.

As we embark on planning for next semester and beyond, if there are things you’ve learned in your career that you wish you’d known when you were an undergraduate, please share your ideas by completing our survey.  

One of the ways to start thinking about how our students might learn from your experience is to consider our focus areas: entrepreneurship, design and build, leadership, social outreach and engagement, and research.

Here are a few examples of how other alumni have participated.

In 2022, retired Air Force officer Maj. Gen. Samuel “Bo” Mahaney shared what he’d learned about leadership over his 36 years of military service. Over five weeks during the fall 2022 semester, Mahaney, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history and was commissioned through S&T’s Air Force ROTC program in 1985, drew on his military career to explore the theory and practice of leadership with Kummer Vanguard Scholars. Mahaney’s sources included military leader and U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, Mr. Rogers and the LEGO Group, often ranked one of the most popular companies in the world.

In January and February, alumni shared what they’ve learned with Kummer Vanguard Scholars as part of our real-world entrepreneurs series.  Dr. Karla Callahan earned a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in engineering management in 2004 and 1999, respectively. Today, she’s an executive in residence with Wanderer Capital, where she focuses on financing. In addition to holding executive positions and founding and leading two startups, Dr. Callahan is the inventor and co-author of a patent to make medical imaging easier, more affordable and more available to underserved markets.

Dr. Del Mank earned a Ph.D. in engineering management in 2002 and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1969. He is a university lecturer, management consultant and executive coach to high-tech startups, and a Tundra Semiconductor Corp. board member.

Joel Peacher earned bachelor’s degrees in history and physics in 1996, a master’s degree in petroleum engineering and a master’s degree for teachers in physics in 2013. His presentation focused on strategic negotiations. Students explored negotiation skills by playing the board game “Diplomacy.” From his own career, Peacher brought to life the importance of critical thinking and strategy, and the importance of being able to make informed decisions in a dynamic environment, form partnerships, and build alliances.

Carlton Washburn drew on what he’s learned working for Boeing’s venture capital division. He also teaches courses in entrepreneurship in St. Louis. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2002, and a graduate certificate, master’s degree and Ph.D. in engineering management, in 2009, 2012 and 2021, respectively.

In addition to colloquia and more informal and interactive presentations, some alumni reach students via events that more closely resemble keynote addresses. Renowned American engineer and astronaut and two-time Missouri S&T graduate Dr. Sandra Magnus is widely recognized for her significant contributions to space exploration. Magnus, who earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from S&T in 1990, spoke to Kummer Vanguard Scholars about how the bachelor’s degree in physics she earned here in 1986 prepared her for her career.

Phil Ling has worked in the energy industry since earning a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1992. Since joining Shell’s deal-making organization in 2014, he has supported or led complex transactions, including acquisitions, divestments and partnerships, that total more than $5 billion in deal value delivery for Shell. He spoke to Kummer Scholars about the art of negotiation.

Steve Birdwell earned a master’s degree in geological engineering in 1987. A master-level engineer with more than three decades of technical and executive experience in construction, logistics and materials science, he’s worked in 38 U.S. states and in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. He has founded and operated six businesses and led a sales process to private equity three times. He shared the skill sets and mentalities he’s drawn on to succeed as an entrepreneur.

In addition to entrepreneurship, we’re also interested in real-world expertise and insights with a focus on leadership. Last year, Kathy Walker, who earned a master’s degree in engineering management in 1982, shared her insights on real-world leadership when she spoke to a group of Kummer Vanguard Scholars.

Finally, if you’re afraid your experience is too niche, consider Jennifer Kuchinski, who earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, both in civil engineering, in 1995 and 2002, respectively. With a focus on design and build — one of our program’s core pillars — she led an eight-session colloquium last semester that revolved around a deep dive into a case study about project management in the context of a runway reconstruction at a major airport. Tools she emphasized for students included not only technical analysis and the importance of understanding materials and methods in construction projects, but also delved into sound documentation, persuasive communication skills, understanding client risk tolerance, and stakeholder and operational impact mitigation.

If you’d like to share your insights and expertise with our students, please let us know when you complete the survey.

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On February 25, 2024. Posted in Announcements