Patrick Riolo ’20 (ECS), ’21 MBA, had always had an interest in healthcare, as well as a desire to create things that “would give value to people.” This led him to pursue a degree in bioengineering at Syracuse University’s College of Engineering & Computer Science.
Once he arrived on campus, however, the atmosphere fostered an entrepreneurial side of him that he had never realized he had. This epiphany drove his decision to combine engineering and entrepreneurship, through a program established at the University in 2017: the H. John and Diane M. Riley Dual Engineering/MBA Program, a 3+2 dual degree program that allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the College of Engineering & Computer Science and an MBA from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management in just five years.
The program was established by Syracuse University Trustee John Riley ’61 (ECS), who earned a degree in engineering at the University, and his wife, Diane. In 2017, Riley was quoted as saying that the dual program “will provide an interdisciplinary education that we believe will distinguish graduates in the marketplace. Having technical skills and business training will prepare them to make an immediate impact on any organization. We are happy to support this program and look forward to learning of its graduates’ success for years to come.”
Riolo is one of the success stories. A native of Mahopac, New York, Riolo knew the dual program would help him “grow into a well-rounded candidate” in the job market by combining his interests in engineering, medicine, business and entrepreneurship. During his sophomore year, he took the GMATs, applied — and was accepted — into the new dual degree program.
The challenges of earning two degrees simultaneously is demanding, as students complete requirement for both programs through an interwoven curriculum of engineering and business courses, but Riolo was up for the challenge.
“The workload is definitely a lot and has pushed me to boost my time management and organizational skills,” Riolo says. “It pushed me to collect my mind, prioritize and get ahead of things.”
Encouragement from Whitman’s Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Master’s Education and Professor of Entrepreneurship Alexander McKelvie led Riolo to an internship last summer with the New York State Science and Technology Law Center at the Syracuse University College of Law. There, he was part of a team working on intellectual property, market research and regulatory issues for outside clients. Riolo used his engineering and business skills to perform market research, including statistical information that was then passed on to participating law students completing patent searches for clients.
“A few of the project we worked on involved medical devices, which I found especially interesting,” Riolo says. “The duality of my skills helped me work on reports that gave people guidance to not only make money but give value to the world — and that was cool to be able to deliver to an actual client.”
The internship, along with his background in bioengineering and business, paid off even before Riolo completed his degree, as he recently received a job offer for a two-year leadership development program with Hillrom, a global manufacturing medical device company with a location in nearby Skaneateles, New York.
“Thankfully, I had a lot of product development and market research background, which, I think, made me a very unique candidate, and I believe made me stand out in the interview process,” says Riolo. “Hillrom is very patient-care centered and product-oriented, which is very exciting to me.”
After graduation this spring, Riolo will use his multi-dimensional background to work in various aspects of medical device product development. While the first eight months will be spent at Hillrom’s Skaneateles location, he may also have the opportunity to work at the company’s other locations, including its Chicago-based headquarters. While he can’t predict the future, the goal of the Hillrom leadership program is to train talent, see where they best fit and potentially offer full-time positions at the completion of the experience.
“Applying to the Riley 3+2 Program was a great decision and is a unique opportunity for those looking to combine their interests in engineering and business,” says Riolo. “To have a job secured at this point, no less a job that combines both of my interests and uses my dual degree, is fantastic. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”