Jared Yarnall-Schane is a 2014 mechanical engineering graduate with a minor in engineering entrepreneurship and engineering leadership development. Through his involvement with the engineering program at Penn State and Engineers Without Borders, Jared co-founded GreenTowers in 2012, a company focused on reconnecting society with greener ways of living and more sustainable and maintenance food products and services. Some projects include vertical farming, indoor beehives, and aquaponic integrated furniture. GreenTowers was selected as one of 18 companies to watch in Pennsylvania and selected as ambassadors for Food for Thought. You can follow him at about.me/jaredys or at GreenTowersUSA.com.
What made you choose engineering?
Entering Penn State, I wanted to pursue a career in renewable energy. As I progressed through the program, I quickly realized that my true skills and passion were in helping others—dancing in THON really hit this home. Junior year I decided to continue with my engineering degree to understand and learn about different engineering concepts, but took up international development and entrepreneurship as my main focus areas. I have found that being an engineer has taught me how to think rationally, while being an entrepreneur has taught me to dream big.
Who has made the most impact on your engineering career as a mentor today?
Bob Beaury, the director of the engineering entrepreneurship minor, has left his mark on everything I do. In his class he teaches how to think about your life as a business investment, and has you write out a 5-year plan including everything from finances to leisure activities. This is something I continue to do to this day, and I still talk to Bob as a personal mentor.
Bob also teaches about the importance of sales, and developing a product that people want. At the start of the class you are given 5 dollars and your job is to turn that into as much money as possible. You can make thousands of dollars with the right determination and product once you go out and start selling at tailgates.
What has been the most challenging obstacle in your career so far?
Entering into my own business right after graduation was and continues to be extremely challenging. As a young entrepreneur in a very mature space (food system designs) it has been a constant battle to make ourselves stand out from the competition. Over the past year I have been an engineer, salesperson, marketer, COO, and general laborer. When you decide to pursue a venture, you have to be willing to do anything and everything.
What is your next big project or goal in the near future?
I will be exiting my current company at the end of July to pursue a career in international development. For the time being I plan to join with an emerging business in Africa to help scale their venture, and learn from more experienced business minds there. Eventually, I hope to start my own social business that provides products and services for the 1 billion people living on less than a dollar a day around the world.
What interests do you have outside of your engineering career?
When I have some free time, I love to go hiking and camping. I did a road trip last summer hitting a lot of the national parks, and I hope to get back to some of them in the near future.
What advice would you give to current mechanical engineering students at Penn State?
Think about the career you want to have, then think about the experiences that will be necessary to get there. For me, I had a choice junior year to pursue an amazing internship in a leadership development program with a leading engineering firm, or live in rural Kenya helping to create a small business. I passed up the money for the experience, and it set me off on a career track that I love.