Graduate student researching ways small businesses can adapt to environmental requirements

The way a company manages its environmental and social impacts can impact success and draw more consumers, who want more and more transparency into how responsible corporations are regarding sustainability, environmental stewardship, philanthropy, human rights, equity, diversity and inclusion.

While larger corporations can dedicate whole departments to managing Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria considerations, small to medium-sized businesses often don’t have such internal resources.

To help these businesses make the best use of what they have, Penn State graduate student Amanda Enns is creating an action plan for small to medium-sized businesses to best approach ESG considerations. Enns, who is pursuing a master’s degree through the Engineering Leadership & Innovation Management (ELIM) program in the Penn State School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs, is complementing her coursework with an assistantship through Penn State’s Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP).

“Our assistantships for Penn State graduate students are really hands-on learning opportunities,” said PennTAP Director Tanna Pugh. “They get to work alongside our team of expert technical advisors, interact with industry professionals, and come up with creative solutions to industry problems. Plus, our team and our clients place high value on their unique perspectives and input.”

PennTAP’s statewide network of expert technical advisors helps organizations maximize their competitiveness through in-person and virtual consultations, unbiased technical advice, online educational resources, and connections to Penn State experts, resources and programs.

“I’m passionate about environmental sustainability, and I’m excited that these indicators are becoming increasingly important in industry as consumers continue to demand greater corporate responsibility in these areas,” Enns said. “We’re hoping to provide a useful framework so that smaller companies can more seamlessly transition into compliance with future ESG-related requirements.”

In the ELIM program, students work to develop solutions that can be immediately applied in real-world circumstances.

“The core to cultivating leadership development is really developing self-leadership skills – taking what you’ve learned technically and applying those skills to solve real life problems,” said Paul Mittan, director of the Engineering Leadership Development program at Penn State. “This assistantship with PennTAP allows students like Amanda to work with actual consumers, solve whatever problem they may have, and deliver a product based on their requirements, which is exactly what we want our students doing.” 

Students interested in the Engineering Leadership & Innovation Management program should contact Paul Mittan. Students interested in the graduate assistantship opportunity with PennTAP should contact Tanna Pugh.