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Remembrances of Some Student Pioneers

20 years ago, members of the very first EMTM class — Ernest Angelucci, Guy Eckroth, Leslie Edwards, Pamela Grubb-Reilly, Anthony Melone, Jay Motwani, C. Thomas Nixon, Anthony Patalocchi, Bennett Renda, Lease Ruddick and Kathy Stenger — arrived on the University of Pennsylvania campus. With little more than an enthusiasm for learning and a pioneering spirit, the original class set out to make their way through a brand new curriculum in an unusual new graduate program. A few of these former students and program director Dwight Jaggard recently shared their recollections of EMTM’s earliest days.

Early Adopters
EMTM was the brainchild of Penn Engineering faculty members Joseph Bordogna and Louis Girifalco, who collaborated with local companies to develop a program that would specifically address the overlapping disciplines of business and technology. The first class members typically found out about EMTM because their employers — largely from the telecom industry — had a role in the program’s early committee days.

Each student had a unique background and distinct career goals, but all were looking for a way to differentiate themselves in the workplace. Ernie Angelucci, EMTM’90 was an engineer in mainframe manufacturing at Unisys. He was examining his long-term career prospects in the face of changing technology when he was solicited internally to consider enrolling in the program. “It was clear to me that the mainframe’s days were numbered and I found myself at a crossroads. Since I operated in a space where technology touches business, I was attracted to EMTM’s forward-looking design.”

Tom Nixon, EMTM’90 was a district manager for new business ventures at AT&T and was considering enrolling in Wharton’s MBA program when the head of engineering for the company’s long distance division told him about the brand new initiative at Penn. “He asked me if I would be willing to give it a try,” Nixon says. “I was looking at how to effectively use emerging technologies at the company and the program piqued my interest. I didn’t have much technical background, and I liked the partnership between schools and the fact that it could help me apply technology to business solutions.”

When a vice president approached him about joining the fledgling program, Anthony Melone, EMTM’90, then operations manager for Bell Atlantic, was surprised. “I never thought I would get a Master’s degree in engineering. What intrigued me most was the Wharton influence and the blending of disciplines — engineering as well as management, organization behavior, and finance. I didn’t deem the actual degree as critical to my career; what was more critical was having the broader foundation that comes with it.”

EMTM Life
Although the earliest courses were experimental by necessity, students felt they were inherently valuable. “The breadth of the curriculum was appealing right out of the gate,” says Melone. “A number of things were helpful to my career. Most beneficial were the classes in finance and organizational behavior.”

“Everyone was trying to see where it would go,” says Nixon, “so we felt the growing pains as we went along. But, there were many components that were very useful to me.” Nixon cites a class project to write a business plan for bringing a developing technology to market and the series of guest speakers as particularly memorable aspects of the program.

Melone found the writing and presentation skills he gained at EMTM to be highly valuable. “I remember having to do case study presentations for my classes. They really helped me take my work presentations to the next level.” The program also gave Melone a more focused understanding of his company and how to make better business decisions. “It’s less about what’s right or wrong and more about using all the information available to make the best decision possible.”

Students appreciated the opportunity to help shape the program for future classes. “I remember that the faculty was very open to input and feedback as we went through, and they really took our suggestions seriously,” says Angelucci.

As a matter of course, the early EMTM curriculum looked very different than it does today. “It had about four times more material than we ended up with. We were wildly optimistic at first, but became more realistic about the amount of information students could absorb,” says Jaggard. In the early sessions, for instance, the study of mathematics was much more heavily emphasized. Classes included two mathematics courses, statistics, systems engineering, marketing, management, economics and, reflecting the student body, a technology elective in telecommunications. Team projects were required in some classes, but teamwork was not a critical component of the program in the same way it is today.

Over time, the program has added students from a broader array of backgrounds and geographic areas, many more electives, a leadership component and a focus on global business issues.

Still, after 20 years, Jaggard remembers the first class well. “It was a very tightly knit class. Since there were no other options for classes, they went through the program as a cohort. Everyone knew when everyone’s birthday was or who was switching jobs, and that gave the class a kind of strength and support that really helped get the program off the ground.”

Nixon has fond memories of Jaggard’s enthusiasm about the subject matter and associate director Donna Samuel’s caring nature. “They really took care of students and enabled everything to function smoothly.”

Life after EMTM
Though most of the initial EMTM class came to the program without many expectations as to how it would shape or impact their career, the earliest alumni agree that it did indeed propel them forward.

Melone was promoted to the director level just prior to finishing the program; today, he’s senior vice president and chief technical officer for Verizon Wireless. While he says it’s hard to know for sure how the program altered his career path, he feels certain that it broadened his base of experience. “It wasn’t just the classes but the people I interfaced with, my fellow students and professors,” he says. In the intervening years Melone has gone on to work with EMTM graduates and sponsor employees in the program. “As the program has matured, students come out with more of a differentiation than when they went in. I see a maturity among graduates, a broadening of skill sets. It can’t help but better position you for the workplace.”

Nixon was promoted after graduation to run a $1.8 billion program for the Treasury Department. He left AT&T to join another company and later landed at Unisys, where he has been working with the Transportation Security Agency since 2001. He credits the program for enriching his resume and giving him important credentials to bolster his career. He says he would be more likely to hire candidates with an EMTM degree. “The program gave me a better understanding of the overall business technology relationship.”

Angelucci left Unisys and joined Lockheed Martin shortly after completing the program. At Lockheed Martin he has held a number of positions in management, technology leadership, and business development. “The common denominator has always been working at the forefront of technology development as it relates to strategic business needs,” Angelucci says. “The program gave me the fundamentals to operate in leading technologies across business areas and address customer challenges from a number of perspectives.”

Angelucci has a number of colleagues who are attending the program and he often encourages others to consider it as an essential tool set for dealing with today’s challenges. “The program puts us on a level playing field quickly. We know what the issues are and we converge on the viable solution alternatives. The days of focusing on just one technology or solution are way behind us. We need to tap into multiple disciplines at one time, not only in terms of technologies but in terms of business models,” he says. “Too much innovation dies on the vine without the knowledge of how to apply it to strategic markets. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to participate in the EMTM program. It made sense then and I continue to be a firm believer in it now.”


“It was a very tightly knit class. Since there were no other options for classes, they went through the program as a cohort. Everyone knew when everyone’s birthday was or who was switching jobs, and that gave the class a kind of strength and support that really helped get the program off the ground.”

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

“The breadth of the curriculum was appealing right out of the gate. A number of things were helpful to my career. Most beneficial were the classes in finance and organizational behavior.”

Anthony Melone, EMTM’90
Senior Vice President and Chief Technical Officer
Verizon Wireless
Basking Ridge, NJ

“The program gave me a better understanding of the overall business technology relationship.”

Tom Nixon, EMTM’90
Unisys

“The program gave me the fundamentals to operate in leading technologies across business areas and address customer challenges from a number of perspectives.”

Ernie Angelucci, EMTM’90
Systems Engineer Principal
Lockheed Martin

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