IBE Alumni Spotlight – Zach Cowen

Meet Zach Cowen. A recent graduate from the Class of Spring 2018.

Major: Industrial & Systems Engineering // Minor: Business

Hometown: Hilliard, OH

Previous Internships/Co-Ops:


  1. Application Developer (Summer 2017)
  2. Automated Test Analyst (Summer 2016)
  3. Test Analyst (Summer 2015)

Zach liked the location of Nationwide (Columbus, family, friends, familiarity) and also enjoyed exploring the different roles and opportunities within Nationwide. 

OSU Involvements:

In the Spring of 2017, Zach started the Buckeye Mudder Club after finding no luck when searching for a Tough Mudder related organization on campus. The club originated with 10-15 members but quickly grew to 40 members last semester. They were able to send over half of their members to a Tough Mudder event in North Carolina this past October. Tough Mudders are unique in that “everyone works together as a team to overcome obstacles and get to the finish, not caring about the finishing time or place.

Reason for Ohio State

Zach came to Ohio State for its proximity to home and family as well as its strong Engineering reputation.

How did you hear about the IBE program and why did you choose it?

Zach heard about the IBE program when his mother saw a post on Ohio State’s website during college applications. Immediately, he knew the program would be a good fit for his dual interests in engineering and business.

Please explain a specific instance you felt what you learned in IBE was really making an impact.

During his first summer at nationwide as test analyst, he developed automated testing scripts for policy holders. In this role, he utilized the principles of IBE by explaining the technical details to business-oriented people, so they could provide a list of his needs and explain the system functionality to others. 

What’s your favorite class you took because of IBE?

Zach’s favorite class was the IBE Innovation Management Seminar (BUSMHR 3400) taught by Professor Leiblein because he could learn about the extensive opportunities within technology and also the different perspectives in decision making through case studies. 

Did you always know you wanted to work in tech?

Initially, Zach came in as a Computer Science major, but he later switched to ISE once he realized he could utilize some of his Computer Science and Programming background in applications to bigger problems and systems. He wanted to use his tools to make decisions and fix problems.

What is your favorite IBE moment/memory?

Zach’s favorite IBE moment was freshman year, when he worked with his team to develop a canoe portaging device. “[The project] helped set the stage for bigger projects and other future classes.  It was a crash course in four months of developing a project, testing it, and designing a business model around it.”

What are your after graduation plans?

Zach will be starting full time at Nationwide as an Application Developer where he will work on web development for Nationwide’s Investment’s departments (specifically real estate investments).

How did IBE help you secure this position?/What do you plan on applying that you learned in IBE in your job?

“IBE helped with the networking. Making connections within and outside of my department so that I have people to talk to all across the company and find common ground with people of different backgrounds.”

What kind of impact do you see IBE making in the future?

“Having people who understand how to talk to people on both sides of projects. Being able to talk to technical people from the business side helps with making high level decisions and keeps the technology-side of things moving.”

What’s something you want to say to IBE underclassmen?

“Keep going at it even if it isn’t your favorite class right now. You’ll still take away stuff from it and apply it in future classes, projects, teams.”


Freshmen Presentations

During the second semester of freshman year, the Integrated Business and Engineering Cohort is required to take ENGR 1282.04H – Fundamentals of Engineering II. This course is exclusively offered to IBE students with a focus on product development using CAD.

This semester, the students were challenged to create a product for people affected by arthritis. In groups of 5-6 people, different teams created their own unique solution to everyday tasks that people with arthritis struggled with. This product development process included multiple prototype testings, business model analyses, and interaction with end users through interviews and user feedback surveys.

At the end of the semester, the teams pitched their products to a panel of faculty and industry professionals where they were judged on a series of criteria. Awards were given out to the teams with the Best Business Presentation, Best Technical Design, and Best Overall.

Best Overall – This team created a shirt un/buttoner 

Best Technical Design – This team created a spray bottle trigger extension


Best Business Presentation – This team created a jar opener


IBE Alumni Spotlight — Alisa Noll

Introducing the IBE Alumni Spotlight Series!

Meet Alisa Noll. She graduated from Ohio State this past December and will be working full time at Boston Consulting Group.

Major: Industrial Engineering // Minor: Business

Hometown: Columbus, OH. When Alisa was training for a half marathon, she would run home and back to campus as her workout routine! Both her parents, aunts, and uncles went to OSU, so she’s lifelong Buckeye.

Previous Internships/Co-Ops: Alisa has a wide range of experience in multiple industries. Her internships are as follow:

General Electric — Manufacturing

Eaton — Technical Sales

Webber Associates — Data Analytics/Consulting

IBM (Summer and Fall) — Data Science Consulting

Kalypso — Consulting

Drive Capital — Data Science in a venture capital firm

OSU Involvements:

Big Data and Analytics Association — Executive Vice President

Ascent Microfinance (Non-Profit) — Previous CEO and now Board Member

Society of Women Engineers- Active Member

Buckeye Undergraduate Consulting Club — Analyst

Pi Beta Phi, Homecoming Court

How did you hear about the IBE program and why did you choose it?

Alisa’s cohort was not told about the IBE program until the middle of their Freshman year. They were sent an initial email explaining the program in order to gage interest. From there, she met with Dr. Rogers, one of the program heads, to discover more about it. She says, “The selling point for me was the design project that occurs second semester freshman year. Building a product that you have to find a need for, design, and market felt extremely applicable. Eventually, I got to work with a team of amazing and smart individuals who came from such different backgrounds. When I went into the program, I wasn’t expecting the other benefits, such as bonding with your cohort. This just became an extra plus point.”

Please explain a specific instance you felt what you learned in IBE was really making an impact.

There were multiple instances during Alisa’s time at OSU where she felt she was really applying the skills developed through IBE. However, she notes that the mindset she gained through IBE was as valuable as the hard skills. Specifically, in her consulting internships, she felt she was “approaching complex problems from a more creative mindset.” Alisa not only understood the technical requirements but also thought about the “biggest business picture.”

What’s your favorite class you took because of IBE?

Alisa found the CERN Project Course to be her favorite IBE class. During her Junior year, Alisa’s cohort and the cohort below her got the opportunity to be the first American undergraduate students to work at the consumer based innovation sector of CERN Lab in Switzerland. Before her and her classmates could head abroad, they worked remotely for an entire semester, coming up with ways they could use CERN’s intellectual property in the real world. They eventually focused on how food waste could be minimized. At the lab, her team created a functional container that would light up when the food inside of it was spoiled. This not only reduced the waste but also prevented people from eating rotting food. In order to best approach this project, Alisa had to learn divergent thinking. She stated that she “constantly used design thinking. However, I had to learn this new mindset in order to consider every possible perspective of a problem to eventually get the best solution. When we thought we found a solution, we had to evaluate it and sometimes go straight back to the drawing board. Overall, it was an incredible experience filled with extremely intelligent individuals.”

What is your favorite IBE moment/memory?

Besides the CERN Project, Alisa did not have a specific favorite memory. However, she felt the bond she formed with her fellow cohort members to be one of the things she will never forget about IBE. Her team members for the Freshman Design Project included some of the same people she worked with on her Senior Capstone Project. Without IBE, she says she “never would have met such amazing individuals from such different backgrounds.” Alisa stated that these people not only became her classmates but also her friends. To her, the most exciting part was seeing every individual in her cohort grow as a student and a person.

What are your after graduation plans?

Alisa just finished up an internship with Drive Capital, a venture capital firm in Columbus, OH. Before starting at Boston Consulting Group and sitting on the board of directors for Ascent, she will be embarking on an Asia trip.

How did IBE help you secure this position?/What do you plan on applying that you learned in IBE in your job?

To Alisa, the two MBA level business courses required in the IBE curriculum ended up being extremely impactful courses and eventually helped her in internship and full time position interviews. She stated they were “very hard at first. However, I then realized how amazing it was having an MBA level professor teaching me business skills. Without this knowledge I developed and constantly being surrounded by business students with a different perspective than me, I would not be in consulting today. I’m very thankful for the class and the coursework.”

What kind of impact do you see IBE making in the future?

“The people that I graduated with are the first example of IBE students but of that group already, they’re really going out to tackle the hardest problems. They’re getting recruited by the best companies in the country, ones that usually don’t recruit at OSU. This eventually transforms the possibilities that future OSU students will have.”

What’s something you want to say to IBE underclassmen?

“Pretty much every company is going to be a tech company. regardless of what the industry is. IBE gives you skills and experiences that make you an extremely well rounded individual, which is amazing. This is something you can’t beat in any other circumstance and makes you one of the top students at this school. Don’t let the small stuff turn you away from IBE. Work hard and all the way through.”