EMTM InSITE
New Student Orientation: Anticipating Transformation

The UPenn EMTM experience is about transformation. For many students, that transformation can be intellectual, professional, personal, or all of the above.


Dwight Jaggard
Professor of Electrical & Systems Engineering
Director, EMTM Program
Univeristy of Pennsylvania



Leo Pimentel

For me, the biggest takeaway was learning the different styles of leadership. I came away knowing much more about my own style and strengths.


Sam Ramos
Software and Systems Engineering Manager
NASA
Washington, D.C.



Leo Pimentel

Exercises like the desert simulation really get to the heart of how people work together in a crisis and allow you to engage with other students. I can’t remember the last time I worked on a team like that and it really made my year—it was that amazing.


Leo Pimentel
Vice President of Research and Engineering
I.D. Systems, Inc.
Woodcliff Lake, NJ



Niten Lalpuria

Orientation was brilliant—having that kind of immersion in so many aspects of the program really got our brains activated. At the same time, it was a great chance to start networking and building relationships.


Niten Lalpuria
Senior Engineer
Abbott Laboratories
Princeton, NJ



Kristin Spalding

I came away very impressed with how authentic and realistic speakers were. As someone with a liberal arts background, I really appreciated what was said about developing a career in technology.


Kristin Spalding
Business Systems Analyst
State Street Bank Corp.
Boston, MA



David Horowitz

Orientation was a wonderful experience. It made me eager to return to campus and it made me feel excited about the next few years of my academic and professional life.


David Horowitz
Lead Software Developer
World Bank
Washington, D.C.

New Student Orientation: Anticipating Transformation

The UPenn EMTM experience is about transformation, program director Dr. Dwight Jaggard reminded his audience during opening remarks at EMTM’s orientation, held on campus August 17th through the 22nd. For many students, that transformation can be intellectual, professional, personal, or all of the above.

Yet profound change can be overwhelming, which is why the program’s orientation is designed to offer students an all-encompassing preview of the academic demands, powerful social network and career opportunities that lie ahead.

“Orientation was brilliant—having that kind of immersion in so many aspects of the program really got our brains activated,” says Niten Lalpuria, a senior engineer at Abbott Laboratories in Princeton, NJ. “At the same time, it was a great chance to start networking and building relationships.”

The schedule of activities began with Jaggard’s leadership session, in which he prompted students to start thinking about their personal values and professional skills.

“For me, the biggest takeaway was learning the different styles of leadership,” says Sam Ramos, software and systems engineering manager at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. “I came away knowing much more about my own style and strengths.”

In the leadership sessions, as elsewhere, students got to know one another and learned just what a diverse and talented group of people the program attracts. Team assignments and team-building exercises encouraged students to start working together, in what would be the first of many such collaborations to follow.

“Exercises like the desert simulation really get to the heart of how people work together in a crisis and allow you to engage with other students. I can’t remember the last time I worked on a team like that and it really made my year—it was that amazing,” says Leo Pimentel, vice president of research and engineering at I.D. Systems, Inc., in Woodcliff Lake, NJ.

Indeed, the successful teamwork Dr. Jaggard witnessed in this year’s incoming class was memorable, he says. “The thing that really stuck out in this group is that it’s a really collaborative, cohesive group of individuals. It was a pleasure to work with them in these early classes.”

In addition to the Leadership sessions, a Statistics Refresher class, taught by associate professor of electrical and systems engineering Dr. Santosh Venkatesh, was held on each of the four days, bringing students up to speed with skills they would need for the program’s technical classes. A Math Refresher course was an optional supplement for students who wanted still more assistance.

Later on Wednesday, Mark Lloyd, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s archives, gave a talk on the School’s history, called “The Penn Perspective.” “It was an enjoyable presentation, and very interesting, because it really gave us an understanding of the institution,” Ramos says.

By Wednesday evening, students were in the thick of their orientation classes, with a good feel for the pace of the program. “A colleague of mine who had attended the program had warned me that I would be too busy to get any work done. I brought my laptop anyway, figuring I would manage,” Lalpuria says. “But I found that when I got back to the hotel room each night I was more interested in preparing for class the next day and reviewing that day’s lectures. EMTM sucked me right in.”

The following day, the program held an orientation event for student employers, who were invited to sit in on classes and network with one another. “This was a new event for us and it was a great experience for employers to learn more about what EMTM offers, and the enhanced capabilities of their employees in the program,” Dr. Jaggard says.

Both Lalpuria’s immediate supervisor, the director of his division, and the company’s director of R&D, whose son had attended EMTM, were on hand for the employer event. “They were very impressed by the program, and they were pleased to see that the classes I was taking, like statistics and marketing, would be directly applicable to my work,” Lalpuria says.

For most students, EMTM is a staging ground for the next phase in their careers, whether it’s an entrepreneurial venture or a leadership role within their existing company. On Friday afternoon, students were invited to start exploring their career goals during a workshop titled “Your Job—Your Future,” led by Jim Hess, founding partner of Opus Search Partners in Philadelphia.

“Hess’s own career story is fascinating and his perspective is an interesting one for students. He started with a PhD in English from Penn and became an entrepreneur, staffing people at the highest levels in university and hospital administration,” Dr. Jaggard says.

“I came away very impressed with how authentic and realistic he was,” says Kristin Spalding, business systems analyst at State Street Bank Corp. in Boston, MA. “As someone with a liberal arts background, I really appreciated what he had to say about developing a career in technology.”

This session was followed by the first of the Emerging Technology Seminars, a series held throughout the year highlighting technologies and surrounding issues. Speaker Karl Ulrich, vice dean of innovation and the CIBC professor of enterpreneurship and e-commerce at Wharton, discussed using quantitative methods to make rational decisions about entrepreneurial ventures.

“I was really struck by the breadth of his knowledge on the subject,” says David Horowitz, a lead software developer at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. “This class really drove home the quality of the education we will be getting.”

By Saturday, the orientation came to a close with the last statistics and leadership sessions. Overall, students came away stimulated by new ideas, new faces and newfound enthusiasm for the school year to come.

“By the end of orientation I would say that the campus really started to feel like home,” says Pimentel. “It put everything in perspective and helped us get started on making that transition into the program.”

For Ramos, who is commuting from D.C. and Houston to attend the program, orientation was a great chance to prepare for both the collaborative aspects of the program and its particular academic challenges. “It was an intense experience, a nice combination of fun and work,” Ramos says. “With some of these topics, you know that you’re not going to leave orientation as an expert but it really gave you a sense of what you can expect for the rest of the semester.”

For his part, David Horowitz came away knowing that he had made the right decision to enroll in EMTM at this point in his career. “Orientation was a wonderful experience. It made me eager to return to campus and it made me feel excited about the next few years of my academic and professional life.”