Forging a New Path


Madeline Hanley ’20 found herself graduating on a slightly different path than she initially expected — one that combined her interests and talents. As Valparaiso University’s first graduate of the integrated business and engineering major, her journey through the program was untraditional and she is thrilled with the outcome.

The Orland Park, Illinois, native discovered that exploring new interests at Valpo could help her hone her skills and passion. Madeline was involved in Pi Beta Phi, College Mentors for Kids, the Society of Women Engineers, and a member of the Dance Marathon Morale Team during her time as a student.

“Being involved in student organizations and the Morale Team reminded me that I am a super outgoing person and I love to put myself out there,” Madeline says. “I really cherished all the opportunities I had to be myself and make lifelong friends. Experiences like being on Morale Team helped me put in perspective that who I am is exactly right for me.”

In her academics, Madeline reached the same conclusion. Just as she realized studying engineering alone wasn’t helping her follow her passion, Valpo’s integrated business and engineering program was about to launch.

“After my first semester in the integrated business and engineering major, I was hooked. I felt comfortable and natural,” Madeline says. “I loved the classes in the College of Business. I didn’t want to forget or dismiss what I had learned in the College of Engineering, and I was already on a five-year plan so changing majors didn’t take extra time.”

Scott Duncan, Ph.D., chair and professor of mechanical engineering, encouraged her to investigate the budding program.

“Madeline, with her outgoing personality, technical abilities, and interest in business, seemed like the perfect fit for the integrated business and engineering degree when her curiosity aligned with the program’s launch,” Professor Duncan says. “And I was right. She did an excellent job in the major and I am proud that she is Valpo’s first graduate.”

Madeline is confident that discovering this major, which combined her technical knowledge with her passion for people, completely changed her career trajectory.

“Business really gave me a social aspect to incorporate in my future career,” Madeline says. “I was slightly untraditional, taking most of my engineering courses first and then business courses following. Faculty were always checking in on me and supporting me, and it was so influential to finish my Valpo experience embracing those connections. I feel so lucky to have found something I love and have so many people supporting me and helping me succeed.”

A major that combines two fields like integrated business and engineering also opened networking opportunities for Madeline.

“Being the first to go through the major, I felt like many people were interested in my path, and my future,” Madeline says. “I went to a regional conference with the Society of Women Engineers my first year, and I walked away feeling so confident in my ability to network and talk to people. That really paid off when I started taking business courses for my major. I took a business ethics course with Professor Luth, who has a background in engineering. It was interesting to have conversations with him about my future, and how I could combine my technical interests with my business acumen.”

Matthew Luth, Ph.D., associate professor of management, is a College of Business faculty member who helped develop the integrated business and engineering program.

“Madeline is an exemplary graduate of the integrated business and engineering program,” Professor Luth says. “The degree fits perfectly with her sincere interests in engineering and technology and her passion for the business side of potential jobs. Her enthusiasm for this innovative major made our conversations about her career aspirations engaging and enjoyable.”

Madeline finds her work in technical marketing and sales with ALA Industries Limited in Portage, Indiana, engaging and rewarding.

“It has been really exciting to work in sustainability, specifically wind power,” Madeline says. “I didn’t expect to find a job with opportunities in the field in which I am interested, which is a really cool outcome of studying business and engineering.”

With her job, Madeline had the opportunity to co-write an article for Windpower Engineering and Development, an online magazine, about the pitch control valve her company sells.

“Going through CORE and writing classes at Valpo definitely helped me strengthen and hone my writing skills,” Madeline says. “I also took a technical writing class, which helped me learn about writing for specific audiences. Being able to write fluently and technically was really helpful in that situation and if the opportunity rises again.”