AMES, Iowa - In addition to introducing courses this year in sales engineering, Iowa State University is now offering students the opportunity to get real-world experience. Together with Trane, the university is launching the nation’s first collegiate sales engineering club, designed to provide students with actual experience in technical sales through field trips, simulations, networking, and internships. The intent is to help produce graduates who can meet the need for technically savvy sales professionals.

“Products today are becoming much more technically sophisticated, and their value propositions require a solid engineering background to explain,” said Dave Sly, engineering sales lecturer in Industrial & Manufacturing Systems Engineering at Iowa State. “Educating students about persuasive speaking and the sales process is fundamental for their success in industry today, and the demand for these students is far outstripping their supply.”

“Sales engineers utilize their technical and engineering skills by applying them to business issues and environments,” said Dan Wendl, vice president for Trane in the northeastern United States, who is also an Iowa State alumnus and a professional engineer. “A sales engineering club is an outstanding opportunity for students to get a taste of the career as well as an insight on how a solid engineering foundation can create solutions and applications to business problems today.”

Recently, members of the sales engineering club participated in a field trip that included visiting a sales office and a HVAC Parts and Supply retail store in St. Paul, Minn., and touring Trane’s hub for its building controls business in White Bear Lake, Minn.

The group proceeded to La Crosse, Wis., where they engaged with new Trane employees who are students in the Graduate Training Program (GTP), which combines five months of intensive technical and business training in La Crosse with six months of on-the-job mentoring for new sales engineering hires. The students observed the GTP and toured the production plant for Trane’s EarthWise™ CenTraVac™ chilled water system.

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Publication date:11/10/2008