Reflecting on 50 years: Oct. 2016

The Business Development Program (BDP) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. With a rich history of providing a wide array of educational and technical services to Missouri businesses, the faculty and staff of the BDP continue to make significant impacts on our state’s economy.MU Extension Business Development Program celebrates 50 years

But the beginning was anything but auspicious.

In 1966, as you may recall from last month’s column, professor of chemical engineering John Sutherland leveraged his significant private sector experience to start up a modest activity that would become the BDP. Engineers from the college provided technical assistance to companies gearing up for the space race and helped build a robust manufacturing sector here in Missouri.

two men at MU CoE Career Fair

David Vaughn (right), a civil engineering senior, talks to Dan Dudley of the Boeing Co. at the Fall 2016 University of Missouri College of Engineering Career Fair.

As business has changed so has the BDP but with one underlying constant — the people. Programs have changed and new disciplines have been added while we continue to attract and retain a talented group of experienced professionals and university faculty to help Missouri companies.

With an aging workforce, companies today are placing more and more emphasis on new talent development and acquisition. And once again the BDP is playing a role in helping Missouri businesses, taking on the challenge of increasing industrial engagement with the MU College of Engineering. This year’s Engineering Career Fair and Engagement Week brought together 186 employers with nearly 1,600 engineering students to explore professional and internship opportunities. Working with local Missouri companies, BDP counselors are engaging College of Engineering faculty and research students on projects to help reduce work related accidents, save energy and revolutionize medical and dental innovations.

MU College of Engineering Career FairMissouri businesses need solutions to real world problems. The BDP can help connect MU resources to companies driving innovation and creating an entrepreneurial environment in our state.

“Engineers and entrepreneurs live to solve problems,” says Steve Devlin, BDP director and MU Engineering assistant dean for industrial engagement, “so bringing them together and building sustainable connectivity is the economic multiplier we need for prosperity.”

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