New program will prepare Buckeyes to lead the future of software innovation

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students work together during a First Year Engineering Honors class
IBE and IBE-SI students work together during a First Year Engineering class.

As the pace of innovation continues to accelerate—with the rapid adoption of AI, machine-learning, and more—it’s critical to arm the future workforce with skills to not only adapt, but thrive. A new academic program at The Ohio State University will prepare Buckeyes to do just that.

The Software Innovation track within the Integrated Business and Engineering program (IBE-SI) will equip Ohio State students to lead the world’s digital future. As part of the new Center for Software Innovation—established in part through the historic $110 million gift from the Timashev Family Foundation—the IBE-SI track will act as the pilot academic arm of the center. An interdisciplinary program between the College of Engineering and the Fisher College of Business, IBE-SI will help undergraduate students gain critical skills in software innovation, product management, finance and marketing.

“Many people think that computer scientists do nothing but create software, but software is only one aspect of computer science,” said David Tomasko, associate dean for academic programs and student services. “The importance of developing this as a curriculum is that it’s going to allow us to give more attention to what is maturing as a whole field in and of itself.”

Modeled after Ohio State’s innovative IBE program, the IBE-SI track will create cutting-edge learning opportunities, internships and exposure to industry leaders and entrepreneurs, resulting in a growth in talent to position the Midwest as another U.S. hub for software innovation. The program welcomed its first cohort of 36 first-year students in August 2023.

students work together during a First Year Engineering Honors class

“The sector is growing, the student interest is growing. Our industry partners are demanding talent with unique skills that the IBE-SI program can provide,” said IBE Faculty  Director Kristina Kennedy. “When we think about the marriage of business and engineering, there are a lot of critical skills that these students are developing around teamwork, value creation, innovation and entrepreneurship. What better place to add this track than in a strong, growing industry sector, so that we can fill that pipeline with these students and their talent.”

The IBE-SI track leverages existing IBE course structure and faculty leads to deliver a unique educational experience. Launched a decade ago, the IBE program selects a cohort of 36 students each year for admission. The program’s challenging curriculum prepares the next generation of leaders to communicate across business and technical domains and to identify and solve complex problems across diverse sectors.

Classroom learning will be complemented by experiential learning, internships, professional development, networking and seminars. Additionally, software entrepreneur, investor and Ohio State alumnus Ratmir Timashev—who met with IBE students shortly after his gift launched the Center for Software Innovation—will serve as an executive in residence throughout the year to support the program and it’s first cohort.

The high demand from engineering and business students applying to the IBE program has resulted in competitive admissions. The new IBE-SI track has effectively doubled the size of the IBE first-year cohort, enabling more students to experience its unique approach. With this being the pilot year, Kennedy and her collaborators are laser focused on maintaining a high quality of education and student experience within the program. 

“This is phase one, this undergraduate track,” she said. “There could be future growth potentially in the graduate space and offerings of professional development for those working in this industry. So really, this is step one towards a bigger software presence educationally.”

by Meggie Biss, College of Engineering Communications | biss.11@osu.edu

Categories: CollegeStudents