Sam Burns, M&T ’18
Materials Science and Engineering
Operations and Information Management
At the end of high school, I became extremely interested in entrepreneurship and technology transfer. While many institutions offer remarkable engineering and technical programs, they often lacked the business perspective to make ideas “real”, that is, implementable, commercializable, and scalable. M&T is such a unique program because it allows students to have the full experience of both Wharton and Penn Engineering, and in this way, students become authentic problem solvers capable of real impact.
The M&T community is remarkably close. Because all of the M&T freshmen are housed in Ware within the Quad, I quickly formed close bonds with many of the M&Ts in my class. In addition, upperclassmen in the program are always willing to reach out. In the beginning of the year, Rudra Puri and Dhruv Jain helped me choose my major based on my interest in nanotechnology. Anna Yang also reached out to me when she learned I wanted to get involved in the Weiss Tech House. M&Ts are so active on campus and they genuinely enjoy helping to plug new students into the high-impact clubs and programs at Penn.
LIFE AT PENN
Penn offers an amazing array of opportunities for every student. Locust Walk serves as a collegiate marketplace for ideas and activities. On campus, I am a project manager on the Weiss Tech House Innovation Fund, a team member on Penn Mock Trial, and a corporate committee member on the M&T Board. I also work on a research team in the Wharton Management Department studying entrepreneurial finance. I’ve found that Penn students typically are able to find a balance among intense course loads and vibrant social lives, while still clocking in 6-8 hours of sleep a night. After a particularly stressful day, I love to relax by walking into the city, whether it be trekking to Chinatown for bubble tea or stopping by the Reading Terminal Market.
My favorite class at Penn has been STAT 430: Probability, taught by Professor Mark Low. While first-semester freshmen are typically discouraged from taking this course, the TA for the class (and a fellow M&T), Jake Hart, reached out to me in the first week of school to make sure I was prepared to take it on. Even when teaching the 9 a.m. section, Professor Low’s lectures were always filled with energy as he bounced between Huntsman whiteboards, deriving moment generating functions. While this course was personally challenging, it pushed me to explore different resources, such as going to office hours and forming study groups with other friends in the class.
PLANS AFTER GRADUATION
Graduation is still a far way out for me, but after M&T I would love to work with nanotechnology startups that focus on medical and life science applications.