More about our 2016 event
SHV 2016 presentations covered a broad range of topics related to the theme: from space travel and exploration to Agile methodology; from women in engineering to globalized virtual teams; from product integration to software security. The presentations did more than bring alumni together – they helped to expand the knowledge of the participants and broadened their view of current practice in the EE and Computer Science and Engineering in government and commercial environments. Each speaker brought a new perspective to the conference and professionally delivered it to a rapt audience.
The day began as Early Career Recognition Alumni Award winner, Corey Cochrane, shared his work at the Jet Propulsion Lab on magnetometers used to detect signs of water in NASA’s search for extraterrestrial life. Continuing the space theme, Michael Paul - Director of Penn State’s Applied Research Lab (ARL) Lunar Lion Project, discussed engineers in service to the world in the context of the Penn State Lunar Lion Project. Anita Trnka from Mythics, Inc. also gave an eye-opening presentation on the important role of women in the culture of engineering, compelling the audience to agree that when women win, everyone wins. Katie Barrett then delivered an expert walkthrough of successful product integration, sharing anecdotes from her work at IBM. Penn State faculty member Gang “Gary” Tan delved into the culture of human error and cyber security with a presentation on compiler-based security. Penn State ARL representative, Sara Lego, explored the topic of Chimera Teams through their successful modification and application of the Agile Scrum methodology. Finally, Matthew Graham (Co-lead of the SHV 2016 team) advocated a cultural shift to treating situations when things go wrong as opportunities for organizational learning.
The day provided opportunities to absorb this information, meet like-minded engineers, and share in-depth discussions on these professional topics. The culture of engineering was on full display.
2016 Panel Discussions
Complementing these presentations, interactive panel discussions provided opportunities to explore two topics important to both new and experienced engineers: virtual teams in the workplace and internships.
In this age of multinational organizations and multimedia technology, global virtual teams have become increasingly common. This has presented unique cultural challenges. The session led by Prof. Mike Erdman, Walter L. Robb Director of Penn State’s Engineering Leadership Development minor and President of the Penn State Engineering Alumni Society, addressed the benefits and challenges of this new environment and introduced an international panel, including panelists joining by Skype from Europe and Africa. They both presented and demonstrated the cultural and technological keys to successfully working in this environment.
Internships can be a source of invaluable insights for engineering students, adding a dimension of apprenticeship, building resumes and skills, and providing a taste of workplace culture. Chet McQuaide, a member of the SHV team, moderated “First Encounters”, a second panel discussion in which five outstanding Penn State EE, Comp Eng, and Comp Sci students shared their experiences in obtaining and benefiting from their summer internships. Key takeaways from this impressive student panel were the importance of effective mentoring and the value of taking personal initiative. It’s not surprising that these students saw major gains in their confidence, skills, and abilities as they applied their classroom experiences on the job with mentor support. The panel discussion both illustrated the student benefits and provided conference delegates a blueprint for successfully implementing their own internship programs.