Engineering-Business program alums pay forward


As Ohio State’s Integrated Business and Engineering (IBE) Honors Program approaches its second decade of preparing innovative leaders, a group of alumni have banded together to pay forward and help ensure its legacy.

Co-managed by the College of Engineering and the Fisher College of Business, IBE is an interdisciplinary program that equips students with an entrepreneurial mindset to become leaders at the intersection of business and technology. Since its inception in 2014, it has produced highly sought-after graduates beginning their careers at top firms across a variety of industries. The IBE alumni network spans from New York City to the Silicon Valley.

“From day one freshman year we're thinking about multiple perspectives of problem solving, both from the business context as well as emerging trends and technology,” said George Valcarcel ’20, an industrial and systems engineering graduate. He is currently a business analyst at McKinsey & Company in Chicago.

“IBE is giving you that blend of theory and practice, which is exactly what these fast-paced, technology-driven companies need.” That multi-faceted preparation is especially important given the current economy and the growing startup scene in the Midwest, he added.

In 2020, Valcarcel teamed up with fellow grad Alisa Noll ’17 (integrated systems engineering) to form the IBE Alumni Council. Their goals were to build upon the work they had done as student leaders in the program—advance opportunities for student connectivity and professional mentorship, while also increasing awareness among industry, donors and prospective students.

“We believe we have something very special at Ohio State,” said Valcarcel, who serves as council president alongside Noll, who is vice president. “We want to not only attract amazing talent from high schools across the country to come participate in IBE, but we also want to make donors aware of the exciting work the program is doing to help create new opportunities.”

After conferring with IBE faculty, the two recruited 10 other alums to serve on various committees and added a student liaison. In its first six months, the council has launched several initiatives, including a recruitment video series on YouTube featuring several alumni who demonstrate the vast career opportunities that exist for IBE graduates.

“We have people in consulting and product management, a Stanford PhD and a Harvard Law graduate,” said Noll, who is a product manager at Chicago startup Tegus. “It’s great to see the whole gamut come together and share their experiences.”

Along with helping recruit new students, the group is actively promoting among its networks that the College of Engineering is seeking an IBE co-director. Former director Peter Rogers, who helped launch the program, retired in 2020. The council has also supported various career chats with students, and is in the process of planning a remote graduation celebration for new spring grads and alumni to connect. Efforts are being made to enhance donor engagement and industry partnerships as well.

“It really does feel like we’ve come full circle,” said Noll. “Now we're at this spot where we can actually make a difference and give back to that same community in a really strong way with our connections and even just speaking to other students about our experience.”

Noll and Valcarcel are eager to see what the future holds for IBE, a program they say is unique not only for the exceptional educational experience it provides, but for the tightknit network it offers as well.

“I've met some of my best friends, I've been able to travel the country, I've been able to meet so many Buckeyes around the world,” said Valcarcel. “Years from now we're going to look back at building this community and I don't think there will be a stronger network that exists within Ohio State. I’m just excited to see where we are in five, 10, 20 years.”

Other IBE alumni council members include: Antaraa Anandan '21, operations; Mike Cavoli '18, mechanical engineering; Grant Davis '18, mechanical engineering; Frank Geib '19, finance; Surya Kukkapalli '21, computer science and engineering; Rachael Leonard '19, management information systems; Margaret Meyo '19, finance; Audrey Pottschmidt '20, environmental engineering; Juan Tramontin '20, logistics; and Eric Vinson '17, finance.

by Meggie Biss, College of Engineering Communications |