New architectural engineering mentoring program connects students to industry


By Tessa M. Pick

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Mentorship and industry connections can be critical factors for engineering students when trying to obtain internships or start their careers. The Penn State Department of Architectural Engineering created the Architectural Engineering Alumni Mentoring Program to provide students with these impactful professional development opportunities.

Sponsored by the Industrial and Professional Advisory Council, the Alumni Society of Architectural Engineers, and the Student Society of Architectural Engineers, the program pairs architectural engineering students with Penn State alumni to provide guidance and networking opportunities. The program is strongly encouraged for second-year students, but it is open to all architectural engineering students.

Bob Grottenthaler, who earned his bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering from Penn State in 1980, and Alexis Sheeto, a current fifth-year student in the integrated bachelor and master of architectural engineering program, lead the program with the aim of developing a mutually beneficial experience for both mentors and mentees.

“Our students’ educational experiences are enriched through engagement and interactions with our alumni and industry partners,” said Sez Atamturktur Russcher, Harry and Arlene Schell Professor and head of the Department of Architectural Engineering. “With the development of this program, our department now has a systematic, disciplined way to support our students’ professional development and networking efforts with our alumni.”

The program helps students learn more about the architecture, engineering and construction industries, all while building industry connections through their alumni mentors. Participating students will learn more about the numerous career paths within the industry and receive guidance and support related to finding an internship or employment after graduation.

“Our department is supported by a large number of highly accomplished individuals with very impressive track records,” Atamturktur Russcher said. “Our students having an opportunity to get to know the presidents, chief executive officers and chief operating officers of the companies they intern with at such an early stage in their career will be tremendously impactful as they build their identities as architectural engineers and professionals.”

Participating students also will have the opportunity to work with their mentors on specific architectural engineering class assignments.

“A key aspect of this mentoring program is its incorporation with the curriculum,” Atamturktur Russcher said. “We have conceived projects and assignments where students are prompted to reach out to their mentors for input and feedback. Such a thoughtful, synergistic approach, I am convinced, will ensure the long-term success of this program.”

More information about the program, including how students can apply and how to apply to become a mentor, can be found here.


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