College of Engineering names director of industry, innovation and development

Priya Baboo has joined the College of Engineering as its inaugural director of industry, innovation, and development. Credit: Penn State / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In recent decades, industry engagement has proven critical in helping Penn State's College of Engineering offer exceptional research and education opportunities. Corporate partners support engineering student projects, hire engineering graduates, and provide generous financial support that enables engineering faculty to enhance their curriculum and further their research, and students to take advantage of educational endeavors they may not otherwise afford.

As such, College of Engineering administrators recognize the need to pursue innovative approaches for industry engagement that will expand the college's position in industry research, commercialization and student success.

Priya Baboo, the college's inaugural director of industry, innovation and development, is prepared to lead and manage these efforts.

"The match between the college's vision of creating a sustainable and expansive relationship with industry that spans the range of academe-corporate interactions, and Priya's experience and passion, is great. She has accomplished a great deal in industry, and she is passionate about academic research. Her technical background, complemented by her managerial skills, is just what we need. I am confident that she will not only excel in her new role, but will also establish a lasting model for this new and exciting office in the College of Engineering," said Amr Elnashai, Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering.

Baboo, who began her appointment Aug. 15, will primarily be responsible for building and fostering strategic industry partnerships; stimulating entrepreneurial ventures; increasing graduate student internship, co-op and full-time job opportunities; and helping secure corporate donations.

"Penn State has partnerships with many companies, and we want to make sure we continue to strengthen and grow those relationships," said Baboo. "My responsibility is to find ways to make them more strategic and figure out how we can leverage them further."

She will also help expand the college's portfolio of industry partnerships by working with staff from units across the college and the University, including Corporate and Foundation Relations and the Office of Industrial Partnerships, to identify potential new partners and cultivate relationships with their representatives.

With more than 15 years of industry experience, Baboo sees opportunities to go beyond the traditional route for exploring new partnerships.

"I can draw upon best practices from an industry perspective while figuring out how we can leverage Penn State's strengths with the college's strengths," she said. "For example, engineering faculty who are interested in establishing a startup could benefit from being paired with corporate mentors who can give them guidance about how they can progress. This entrepreneurial mindset is important to Amr and it's also a University priority under President Barron's Invent Penn State initiative."

Though she's only a few weeks into her tenure, Baboo said everyone she has met has been very open to collaborating and sharing information.

"I come to work knowing that people are so willing to talk about what they see as challenges and growth opportunities. My job becomes easier because I have to learn what everybody is doing, identify the gaps, and then piece it all together," said Baboo.

"The College of Engineering is already a big entity within the University, but there is still a lot of opportunity for growth, and it's exciting to be a part of it," she added.

Baboo brings extensive marketing research and analytics, technology commercialization, and fundraising experience to the College of Engineering.

Prior to joining Penn State, she held various leadership positions at VideoMining Corporation, a provider of in-store behavior analytics for consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers, located in State College.

Throughout her 12 years at the firm, Baboo helped secure millions of dollars in funding from prestigious federal government agencies, like the National Science Foundation, and private entities, such as The Technology Collaborative; evaluated various markets for proprietary technology, leading to the development and launch of successful syndicated shopper insights programs in the convenience and grocery channels; and provided overall management, direction and development of VideoMining's shopper insights practice area and client service account groups.

Baboo earned a bachelor's degree in zoology and a marketing MBA from the University of Madras in Chennai, India, and a master's degree in supply chain management from Penn State.

Last Updated September 01, 2016