Pennsylvania Manufacturing Advisory Fellowship


Experiential Learning, Business Problem-Solving

Pennsylvania Manufacturing Advisory Fellowship

A Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business initiative supported by grant funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation for Regional Economic Development and Catalyst Connection

The goal of the first Pennsylvania Manufacturing Advisory Fellowship (PA-MAF) was to support small and medium-sized manufacturers in the Pittsburgh region and provide experiential learning opportunities for University of Pittsburgh graduate students.

The first PA-MAF ran from Fall 2020 until December 2021. More than 60 graduate students from Pitt, mostly from Katz, participated with 15 companies. They worked in small teams with company representatives to address an immediate challenge or opportunity.

Win-Win Opportunity

Students: this short, intense project-based experience helped them to develop and enhance their problem-solving, teamwork, and communication skills in a working business.

Companies: gained actionable recommendations and deliverables specific to their current business needs while introducing them to potential hires.

PA-MAF Highlights

  • 60 graduate students, 15 manufacturers

  • $22 million in new sales

  • $3.5 million of investments by the companies

  • 75 jobs created and retained

  • $290,000 in cost savings per new efficiencies

“This initiative addresses two critical needs for our community: helping our graduate students gain meaningful work experience during a time when many internships were being rescinded due to the global pandemic, and helping advanced manufacturers recover from the COVID-19 crisis and lead a regional economic rebound.”

Petra Mitchell

CEO, Catalyst Connection

“This partnership illustrates that leveraging our university talent pool through the projects with the local business community, we can continue to build and develop the talent necessary for the future success of our region. At Katz, we are committed to instilling in our students the skills and abilities to succeed in the 21st century to sustain the talent pipeline.”

Bill McShane

Experience Based Learning Program Manager, Katz

Projects Delivered Results

Bloomfield Robotics: The student team conducted market research to help Bloomfield better understand the challenges faced by grape growers and conducted an ROI analysis of the company’s technology to identify potential growth opportunities.

CapSen RoboticsThe company wanted a strong market entry for its new product, the CapSen PiC. The student team conducted a competitor assessment and research to develop customer personas, profile customer journeys, and identify messaging to resonate with the target audience.

Con Yeager Spice Co.: The student team conducted a market analysis that included: 1) Competitor assessment; 2) Market research of best practices related to pricing and discount strategies for indirect sales channels; 3) Distributor pricing strategy recommendations; 4) Market research to determine customers’ needs and perceived value of products.

Conturo Prototyping: The student team assessed various target segments, including aerospace, medical device, autonomous vehicles, and department of defense. They developed recommendations for specific market entry strategies and tactics to help Conturo quickly build name recognition.

Impact Guard:  The student team helped to develop a roadmap for predictive analytics and data management. The project included the development of a draft ROI calculator.

J.V. Manufacturing:  For the development and launch of a new product, the student team conducted a market analysis to identify prospective customers in the U.S. as well as an assessment of the competitive environment. The team also research product launch best practices and developed a draft go-to-market plan for JVM.

MECCO Marking & Traceability:  The student team conducted an assessment and then created a standardized sales process, procedures, and marketing materials. They also developed recommendations to improve sales process management.

MEPPI:  The student team helped to develop an interactive Safety Stock Model, an interactive Safety Stock Dashboard, and standard operating procedures.

Panther Teeth: The student team assessed the market size and growth rate for various types of skates and sports shoes as well as an assessment of the competitive environment, including marketing and sales approaches. They developed recommendations to secure influencers, build social media buzz, and increase market awareness.

RE2 Robotics:  The student team conducted detailed market analytics and growth opportunity analysis, including the cost per industry related to labor, safety, equipment, etc., to spur growth opportunities and internal R&D.

SKC Inc.: To achieve a Department of Defense cybersecurity certification, the student team conducted Gap analysis of cybersecurity policies, procedures and practices, and recommendations. The team also developed a company training presentation and recommendations to enhance summary reports to SKC’s executive team.

SMS Group:  The student team helped to develop a visual key performance indicators and current state dashboard to be used daily by management. The dashboard would help to improve project communication, throughput efficiency, and lead time accuracy.

Touchwood LabsThe student team helped to assess the potential growth opportunities for their primary product line by conducting analysis of target markets and geographic regions.

XYZ Technology Corp.: The student team conducted a market analysis to identify current market trends and potential growth opportunities for a new product. The team then developed potential sales and marketing strategies to better position XYZ in the market and grow sales revenue.

Students on the Experience

Katz students comment on the benefits of their experience. Visit our YouTube page for video interviews about their experience.

“I came across varied leadership members of the company and learned a great deal while working for the company. This is the kind of company that I want to work for, and the fellowship showed me the job prospects that are in Pittsburgh.

~ Lavina Suresh Iyengar on SMS experience 

I received invaluable real-world experience and coaching in the art of consulting. Without this hands-on experience, I would not have been able to develop my soft skills, such as useful informational interview techniques and interfacing with the client.

~ Student on SKC experience 

It helped me grow professionally. It taught me the art of working with people and getting the work done as the project leader. That is a position you don’t get very often, and it was a wonderful experience. 

~ Student on SMS experience

I come from an international background, so this was a great learning experience on how business is done in the US. It was a real-world project, so I was actually working with a client. It was great to understand what was important to them and how the market works in the US.  

~ Student on Touchwood Labs experience

The PA-MAF project was a turning point for my career. I come from a software background, so my skill set is more analytical and problem solving. This project gave me a platform to polish my market research skills. This was an area I was lacking so I’m glad this allowed me to gain this real-world experience.    

~ Student on CapSen Robotics experience


Katz provides networking and career guidance early in the MBA process. The impressive number of events and case competition help me represent the school and keep me involved. I credit the unparalleled scholastic environment to an immensely knowledgeable faculty and camaraderie generated by the career office.

Matthew Linsburg

MBA '18

Katz is unique because of its genuine dedication to students. Career Management’s no-nonsense approach carefully creates a customized academic and career roadmap to ensure each student receives the necessary skills to secure a successful internship and job placement.

Tony Wang

MBA '19