Connections between engineering and business a win for students

Contact: Cindy Wagner

Rubarth (second from left) stands with team members and the Formula SAE car in Floyd Hall lobby. In addition to Rubarth are, from left, Aidan Fayhee, manufacturing engineering technology major; Clayton Wierda, finance major; and Noah Gould, manufacturing engineering technology major.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Joining student organizations—it’s one way Western Michigan University students engage with campus. It’s an opportunity to socialize, meet industry leaders and build networks. And it’s a way to explore diverse interests.  

Ryan Rubarth

Just ask Ryan Rubarth, a finance major with a passion for engineering and racing. He is a leader on the Bronco Racing Formula SAE team and the Bronco Wind Team, both registered student organizations (RSOs) at the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences that are open to all WMU students. 

“My experience at Western is one of opportunities that allowed me to utilize my skills to supercharge my resume and seek out professional opportunities curated to my interests,” says Rubarth, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in June.

Engineering students echo Rubarth's enthusiasm for exploring diverse skills while in college. "Most engineering students will interact with business professionals throughout our careers, so the exposure this early gives us an opportunity to prepare for our careers more thoroughly and foster development of our non-technical skills," says Andrew Redder, an aerospace engineering student and member of Bronco Racing. "Working with Ryan ... I was not expecting such a high level of enthusiasm and dedication to projects from someone outside of his major."

How does participation in these organizations fit into Rubarth’s goals? 

“I cannot build a race car. However, during my time at WMU, I have learned how to manage a team of people who can,” says Rubarth, who is also a student employee in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. 

Rubarth first learned about Formula SAE while still in high school from his cousin, fellow Bronco Andrew Piasecki, B.S.E.’21.  

“He conveyed to me the ways in which his organization, Formula SAE, could use business students to assist in their operations and aspects of their competition. As someone who was passionate about both racing and business, I was hooked,” says Rubarth, who sought out the team when he began at WMU. 

Since engineering organizations require technical expertise and business acumen, the connection between College of Engineering and Applied Sciences students and Haworth College of Business students is an important one—one that students can experience and learn from during their time in college. 

“If a business student wants to become more involved and develop career competencies, no matter their major, they should look no further than engineering RSOs. The projects are unique, innovative and exciting. Better than this, the organizations need business-oriented minds to add value to their organization,” says Rubarth. “Developing business and communication skills alongside engineering students is something I hope to inspire others to do, for both the betterment of Haworth College of Business students and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences RSOs.” 

For the students, the synergy is a win. 

“Without my awesome teammates, our projects and success would not be possible,” says Rubarth. ”The College of Engineering and Applied Sciences does a fantastic job developing students to become full-blown engineers, and it is evident by the performance of the racing vehicles my team has produced. Their drive and dedication push me to become more driven and dedicated to the work I specialize in. This inspiring force is how I have been able to sharpen skills taught to me by my business professors in a way I would have never thought possible. My teammates are to whom I owe these attributes I will take into my career to make me a better business professional.” 

During his time at WMU, Rubarth has been positively impacting the Bronco Racing Formula SAE team and leading it as president. By networking and leveraging connections with partners, the team has raised over $110,000 in funding and materials.

“Managing, financing and organizing engineering projects was not only beneficial to our organization, but also gave me great leadership and project management techniques to take with me into my career,” says Rubarth.

And his impact extends further. "Ryan has time and time again proven himself an exemplary model of what a Bronco should be and is someone who continues to grow and expand his expertise inside and outside of his field," says Redder. "He is also the first business student to achieve the role of team president in Bronco Racing's history."

Rubarth also worked as project development lead on the Bronco Wind Team for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Collegiate Wind Competition. Bronco Wind Team is also an engineering focused group open to all WMU students. He learned a great deal about research and began researching offshore wind feasibility in Michigan that included information such as weather data, fishing patterns, wind turbine specs and financing of similar sustainable projects.

“I used my analysis and communication skills to not only assist the competition team but hopefully put Western on the map as one of the country’s premier wind engineering universities,” says Rubarth.

So what is next for this graduating senior? 

Rubarth chose to major in finance because of the broad opportunities in so many in-demand industries and envisions a career in either corporate finance or financial services.

“If I want to work in motorsport, I could work for a race team. If I want to use my analysis and research to help people finance a dream, I could do that. If I want to become a CEO and change the world for the better, I can do that. These limitless possibilities in the world of finance excite me and make me interested to see where my career takes me, starting with WMU,” he says.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.