Eli Darby in Classroom

Eli Darby Dishes on Heath IBEP

By Randall Brown.

Eli Darby, a Knoxville native and senior in materials science and engineering, is among the first cohort to graduate as part of the Heath Integrated Business and Engineering program, also known as Heath IBEP. The cohort has enjoyed the boost of an industry-focused curriculum that opened doors between historical silos in tech and business academics.

As an engineering student, we are all given the tools to be competent engineers. IBEP gave me the ability to see the broader picture and understand why what we do as engineers is critical to overall business operations.”

—Eli Darby

The connection might seem a given, especially in tech-based industry, but there are good lessons in the nuts-and-bolts of really making it all work.

“I think that’s what was most surprising: the methodology linking the two and how quickly we found that and how effective it proved to be,” said Darby.

Students have found success in the program through the shared language of systems thinking and a focus on project management. Darby put these lessons to work through internship opportunities within the college and beyond. After his first year, he became a research intern with the materials science department, then transitioned to an internship in the advanced textiles industry with JPS Composites in South Carolina. He thanks IBEP for helping him land the position.

“I went to the Engineering Expo and I was able to use a lot of the tools—the networking abilities I’d learned in IBEP,” he said. “That was a really cool first internship, and I got experience in a manufacturing setting, which I think was really useful.”

He also appreciates the influence of program director Mary Pile.

“She’s invested a lot of time and energy into every individual IBEP student,” he said. “She’s our biggest supporter, and a lot of times she pushes us to test our comfort zone. She’s always there for everyone in the cohort, which I thought was amazing.”

Pile returns the praise toward Darby and the three cohorts that have been in the program so far.

Eli exemplifies the success of the program with his ability to take on diverse roles during his summer internships. We see each cohort really grasping the ideas we’re conveying to them.

—Mary Pile

Darby intends to stay in touch with Pile, the program, and the college as he moves forward. He’s already given back to UT through an internship with the UT Office of Sustainability.

“I am conducting research on microplastic emissions from washing machines on campus,” he said. They hope to improve on the already 90% capture rate for these emissions. “It’s something to try and make a difference and look at some of the problems we’re facing on campus.”

Darby plans to head to Detroit after graduation for a position with General Motors.

Integrating Business and Engineering

The Heath Integrated Business and Engineering program pairs an industry-focused curriculum with immersive, professional, co-curricular experiences to graduate leaders with a comprehensive, systems-thinking approach to breaking down silos and solving challenges. In short, graduates will understand the intersections between business and engineering, bringing depth and value to both fields from day one.

Watch the video below to learn more about the program.

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