Carnegie Mellon University

Chris Dening | Part-Time On-Campus | Class of 2019

Family man. Engineer. U.S. Army Veteran. Lifelong learner.

I’m first and foremost a family man. I enjoy spending time with my wife and three daughters (ages 1, 2 and 5). This consists primarily of time spent at the park, playing with Legos, reading or watching movies. I also volunteer at church as coordinator of a children’s program called AWANA.

I was a part of the Army ROTC program at Rutgers University. After I graduated, I was commissioned into the Army. I served as an engineer officer for four years, including one year-long deployment to Iraq. Upon getting out of the Army, I accepted a position with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as an engineer. I worked in contract administration and quality assurance for a number of years before becoming a project manager. A technical background has made me appreciate the quantitative course work that is such an integral part of the Tepper School program.

As a veteran, I had the opportunity to pursue higher-level education using the post-911 GI Bill. I felt an MBA would give me the best set of skills and allow me to succeed in a multitude of business environments. Many of the managers in my organization have their MBAs.

Career Plan

After business school I plan to continue my career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Eventually I would like to go into business with my wife, who is currently in business providing tax consulting services to entrepreneurs.

Your Life + Tepper School

I chose the Tepper School because it has a reputation as an analytical powerhouse. I work in the field of engineering, where analytics and technical expertise are highly valued. Carnegie Mellon and the Tepper School carry a lot of weight on your résumé. The Tepper School quickly became the logical choice.

I have found the CMU community to be rich in diversity and highly cooperative. In class, I’ve seen teams composed of lawyers, marketers, engineers and financiers from various backgrounds working together to create quality presentations and projects.

The culture at the Tepper School is very team oriented. We had a group presentation assignment very early on during our first mini. Even though we had just met each other, the team really pulled together. We worked late at one of the team member’s offices and made the project a success despite the challenges we faced.

The Tepper School also has a strong emphasis on leadership and collaboration. I learned firsthand the value of these traits during my time in the military. While I learned a great deal in the military, the business environment is distinctly different from the military environment. Being at the Tepper School has shown me I have a lot to learn in this arena, especially in the area of informal networks.

I especially enjoyed Managerial Economics with professor Fallaw Sowell. The topic on price controls and government intervention provided insight into the benefits and costs of government intervention in economic activities. It really made me think about the politics and economics around government intervention.

Tepper School Impact at Work

Since starting the program, I have been able to transfer into a project manager role at work. The emphasis on data analysis and decision-making, as well as methods for leading teams and networks, has made my transition from a technical role into a managerial role a smooth one.