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UT Students Helping Improve Knox-Area Businesses


Students from IBEP Listen to a Representative from SCORE

Students from the Tickle College of Engineering and Haslam College of Business listen as a representative of SCORE—the nation’s largest group devoted to helping small businesses—talks about the program. The students are part of the inaugural Integrated Business and Engineering Program at UT.


UT’s Integrated Business and Engineering program (IBEP) got off to a solid start last fall, when undergraduate students from the Haslam College of Business and Tickle College of Engineering teamed up to design futuristic bus kiosks.

Those booths benefitted Local Motors and its driverless bus system, Ollie, which is set to be a key feature in downtown Knoxville.

Now, those same students are helping other local businesses.

The Knoxville Business Support Network is a conglomeration of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center, the Knoxville Area Urban League, Greater Knoxville SCORE, the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, and the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce.

Those groups have banded together to increase business opportunities and help small business owners in the greater Knoxville area.

“Students hope to help improve the search process for finding information,” said Mary Brow, IBEP director. “Anything that makes it easier for small businesses to flourish helps our city, community, and our campus, so it behooves us to help that happen.”

The students have also researched how each individual group could better spread its message.

They will present their ideas and findings to the various groups on April 18, using feedback from them to further improve the proposals throughout the fall semester.

IBEP began in the fall of 2017 as a way to bring together business and engineering students, providing them with perspectives from the other side of the production process and opening up possibilities to collaborate. Students who complete the program will graduate ready to lead at the apex of business and engineering.

As the first cohort of 19 students continue this fall as juniors, a new cohort of sophomores will be getting started. The eventual goal is to have cohorts of 20 students—10 from each college—at each of the sophomore, junior, and senior levels.

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