The Penn Engineering brand is a part of common language that should express the values and reputation of our institution as well as successfully connect with its audience. Penn Engineering and the university have made significant and positive efforts on the global and local level. However, Penn Engineering’s connection to the overall Penn student body remains low. Associating Penn Engineering with innovation and technology opportunities would be an enriching way to engage with the overall student body.
Penn Engineering’s connection to the overall student body
Anecdotally, many students outside of engineering are intimidated by Penn Engineering and do not connect with the significant opportunities within our school. As part of the university, it is worth considering how to engage non-majors with engineering. For students interested in innovation, learning “hard-skills”, or other engineering opportunities there are few obvious entry points. This is unfortunate because engineering is relevant to all Penn students in some capacity. Many students graduate without ever interacting with Penn Engineering. Taking intro engineering classes is the ideal way to engage with engineering, however it should not be the the only way.
Survey Responses regarding Penn Engineering Apparel
We were interested in student opinions on the Penn Engineering t-shirt. Student response to the current Penn Engineering t-shirt was overwhelmingly positive, and students also expressed strong interest in purchasing higher quality apparel or other Penn Engineering gear. Specifically, 75% responded yes to “Do you like the current Penn Engineering t-shirt?” To gain more insight into particular thoughts on the t-shirt, students were asked a word association question for the Penn Engineering t-shirt, seen below. The majority of responses were positive.
On an anecdotal level, students have frequently complained about engineering apparel, but clearly this data shows that the overall opinion on the Penn Engineering t-shirt is positive. With that said, when students were asked “If Penn Engineering offered high quality apparel at a greater cost, would you consider purchasing an item,” 69% of students said yes.
There are many inconsistencies in the way Engineering is branded, leading to unnecessary confusion. First and foremost, students, including EDAB board members, do not know if the school's name is “School of Engineering & Applied Sciences” or “Penn Engineering”. Faculty collectively produce hundreds of lecture decks throughout the year, however there is no standardized template for these presentations. When lectures are distributed outside the university, it is impossible to identify their origin. Additionally, students are often unsure how to present the school name and their major and year in email signatures. Given the importance of email, it is unfortunate that there is little guidance on how to present ourselves. Students are often unsure of how they may use the Penn Engineering logo. This leads to unauthorized merchandise and other inappropriate usage. Finally, Medium has been a positive addition to the Penn Engineering social media presence, however other methods have been underutilized. The Penn Engineering instagram account has been underutilized. It has 1300 followers, and the last post was five months ago. Instagram presents an opportunity for engineering to connect with students directly using a medium which we frequently use.
Connection to the overall student body
Speaking events are extremely popular within the university. SPEC brings pop culture figures to campus and Authors@Wharton brings prominent business leaders to campus. We believe there is an opportunity for Penn Engineering to host non-technical speaker events with prominent technologists. There are abundant opportunities with visiting academics but few with CTOs and other technologists in business. Such events would promote learning and the Penn Engineering brand. Students throughout the university would be interested to hear from tech companies, startups, government administrations and other organizations changing our world.
There are many benefits to such events, they associate innovation with the engineering school in students’ minds. Additionally, discussing innovation would inspire students and other community members. Speakers are often excited to talk to students, and this excitement may translate to professional opportunities, and an increased connection between Penn Engineering and their organization.
Offer a single quarter-zip or crew neck sweater to Penn Engineering students with the Penn Engineering logo in the top-left quadrant.
Continue to inform students of the correct Penn Engineering name.
Create a lecture deck template and encourage faculty to use it going forward.
Email students several email signature templates which they may use.
Inform club leaders through ESAC of the logo policies.
Encourage students to follow the Penn Engineering Instagram and post regularly.