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March 5, 2024

An Applied Engineering Sciences overview

AES combines technical engineering skills with business savvy

Computer laptop image
AES is a progam that helps students learn a variety of business skills including the use of analytics to measure success.

There’s a major in the College of Engineering at Michigan State University that combines the technical strengths of engineering with the savvy expertise of business.

Called Applied Engineering Sciences (AES), it responds to the interests and needs of its 300 undergraduate students, the Alumni Advisory Board that advises and supports it, and the employers who hire the well-prepared graduates.

Director Laura Genik said AES has one of the highest placement rates in the university, consistently at the college average or greater.

“Our unique interdisciplinary program prepares Spartan graduates to be technically sound and business ready," Genik said. 

The program develops undergraduates in six focus areas: 

  • Business Analytics with a data science minor
  • Business Law
  • Computer Science 
  • Packaging 
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Technical Sales 
Laura Genik
Laura Genik

Genik said students have always been attracted to AES’ flexible curriculum. It has created family legacies that tend to run a deep Spartan green.

The father-son duo of Chad Steiner (AES ’93, MBA ’95) and Nick Steiner (AES ’20) are a lively example of that. The Steiners enjoy proclaiming: “We’re two guys with AES degrees, and there’s nothing we can’t solve.”

As a student, Nick Steiner found it helpful to have someone who could readily explain how processes work in real-world applications.

“It helped me see the bigger picture behind classroom concepts,” Nick Steiner said. “Knowing that AES was a mixture of both engineering and business functions was a perfect choice for me.”

Today, he is a supervisor at a General Motor’s Customer Care and Aftersales parts distribution center.

Chad Steiner, the father, said his AES degree gave him an agile start in understanding his customers who were engineers. His first job was working in technical sales for Dow Corning.

Steiner family
The father and son duo of Chad (right) and Nick Steiner. They have excelled in the business world thanks to AES. 

“It was an advantage over some of my colleagues who didn’t understand concepts such as coefficient of friction or viscosity,” Chad Steiner said. “That knowledge helped me gain access to sit at the design table with those engineers and made me a better sales professional.

“The hard work it takes to get through the AES program assisted in my quick advancement into global marketing and then sales leadership.”

Today, Chad Steiner is vice president for sales and customer technical service for the North America Packaging and Graphics Division of Sun Chemical.

He leads a team of 400+ sales and customer technical service professionals across North America who service a portfolio of customers in the graphic arts industry. His customers print everything from newspapers and magazines, to complex flexible packaging structures and corrugated boxes, to cereal boxes.

“It was a lot of fun to have Nick in the program,” Chad Steiner said. “When I served on the AES advisory board, I lobbied that AES students need to take differential equations. I said, ‘If I had to take it, so does everybody else who gets this degree.’ Nick has never forgiven me for my position on that,” he chuckled.

The Buko Sisters

Like many sisters, the three Bukos don’t always agree on everything but come very close on the value of an AES degree.

Anna Buko, the oldest, came to MSU to study computer science engineering but soon sought out a more immersive and hands-on educational experience. Applied engineering was the right fit, she said.

“Aside from the hard science material, like calculus and physics, AES has taught me how to thoroughly think through problems with an analytical mind," Anna Buko said. "It propelled the beginning of my career.”

Buko sisters
The Buko sisters all have Applied Engineering Sciences ties. 

Today, she works for a technology startup in California. She graduated in May 2021 with an AES degree and concentration in supply chain.

Christina Buko couldn’t find the right engineering fit for herself until she listened to an AES presentation.

“Dr. Genik told us about applied engineering, and it felt like the perfect match," Christina Buko said. "Turns out, it was. The major was the perfect mix of business, engineering, and packaging for me.”

Christina feels lucky that she got to work with her sister, Anna, on their capstone project – a culminating academic experience where graduating seniors demonstrate their mastery of a particular subject or field of study.

“We ultimately had to create a solution for shelving in storage containers for John Deere," Christina said.

Christina graduated in December 2021 and works for General Motors as program manager for specialized containers.

The route into AES for Catherine, the youngest Buko, was sidetracked by COVID.

“It was difficult for me to figure out what I wanted to do," Christina said. "I knew I wanted some type of engineering degree. I joined AES thinking I would switch to a specific type of engineering once I knew what I wanted to do but ended up loving both the business and engineering sides.”

Catherine is currently finishing her studies at MSU and is active in Women’s Club Volleyball. She will graduate in December 2024 with an AES degree and minor in business.

“It was a bonus that both of my sisters had already done AES and loved it," she said. "I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else.”

Written by Patricia Mroczek, See more at the Engineering Media and Public Relations page.