News & Updates

Engineering and business converge

As construction progresses on the first major building projects of the Campaign for a Bradley Renaissance, plans continue to move forward on one other major addition.

A 327,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Engineering and Business Convergence Center is in the works and Deans Richard Johnson (College of Engineering and Technology) and Robert Baer (Foster College of Business Administration) couldn’t be happier.

“We’ve really been at this for probably five years, just trying to bring things along and get more collaborations between the colleges where it makes sense to do so,” Johnson said.  “Obviously, working together we can accomplish more than either of us can do individually.”

The new building will house the Foster College of Business Administration and the College of Engineering and Technology, with the Convergence Center serving as a centerpiece connecting the two. Bradley’s plans are for the Convergence Center to feature two large innovation and commercialization laboratories where business and engineering students, among others, can work together as the equivalent of a small company to complete projects.

“Engineers have to go work in a business world,” Johnson added.  “They are going to be working for companies or maybe starting their own companies, but they have to understand how the business world works."

But Baer explained that engineering students wouldn’t be the only ones reaping the benefits of the new Convergence Center.

“From a business school perspective, the days where business students can spend their days working in a very narrowly defined specialty area are long gone,” he said.  “Our business graduates need to be able to think beyond their specialty area and work with others, which is something that this project will promote.”

Johnson and Baer explained that the Convergence Center would add a new aspect to the curriculums of each college, potentially resulting in new concentrations, minors and majors for each college.

“We think as it picks up and we get more programs going on and people graduated who have some of these new characteristics, things will grow from there as well,” Johnson said.  “We’re looking at the marketplace; what is it companies need to be successful?  We have to figure out how to impart knowledge, values and experience in our students and graduates to meet that.  I think once we’ve done that, our students will have a major advantage in the marketplace.”

“There are very few universities doing this, and maybe none are doing it to the extent that we envision,” Baer said.

While the start date for this project has yet to be determined, both deans noted that their excited faculties have already set the wheels in motion, collaborating with one another in some of the most common areas where business and engineering curriculums intersect.  Among those faculty members are economics professor Robert Scott and engineering professor John Engdahl, who have worked together to form the course, “Economics and Technology of Energy.”

“It is a very popular course already,” Baer said.  “It’s really exciting to already see business and engineering students working together and adding both the business and technical viewpoints to solve common problems.”

So when can students expect to take classes in the Engineering and Business Convergence Center?

“The Convergence Center depends on funding,” Baer said.  “None of this is funded by students’ tuition dollars. It all comes from alumni support and corporate support.”

Baer was optimistic about the target date, considering the success of the other projects in the Renaissance Campaign.

“It’s good to see that we seem to be next in the queue,” he said.  “Bradley has drawn up some big plans and we have already accomplished a lot of those big things.  We’re next and we’re anxious for the Convergence Center. Not only will the Center enhance our entrepreneurship program, it will engender a greater entrepreneurial spirit among faculty and staff at Bradley.”