Siemens CEO tells PSU students they can be part of exciting new innovation

Oct. 6, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The head of Siemens USA told an audience of Penn State students to expect the worldwide pace of innovation to increase rapidly in the next decade and bring changes yet unimagined along with it. He also told them they will need the right skills to be part of it.

Eric Spiegel, CEO of Siemens USA, laid out his vision in “Digital Revolution; What it Will Mean to Companies and for Students in the STEM Field” during a visit to Penn State’s University Park Campus October 6.

Spiegel talked about the opportunities in building automation, decentralization of power production, drastically shortened product design, engineering and manufacturing, 3-D printing -- but a central theme was certainly the importance of software.

He pointed out that innovation and software development is reshaping the industrial world. The top four S&P 500 companies are now software companies, he said, and some of today’s fast-growing, market-disrupting companies are using software to change the everyday lives of millions of people.

“Uber has a market cap of $66 billion. …Airbnb has a market cap higher than all but one traditional hotel chain and it doesn’t own a single hotel,” he said. “How does it do that? Software.”

About 50 students majoring in engineering and business comprised the audience for the presentation, delivered in the Reber Building, the home of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Penn State.

“When you think about your time here at Penn State and what you will learn, I encourage you to focus on two things: software and digital everything,” Spiegel told the students. “If you have software, you can design and build everything else. It’s the basis for everything going forward.”

Spiegel highlighted the success of Local Motors, a Phoenix-based, innovative technology company that includes a small firm in Washington, D.C. Their platform combines global co-creation with local micro-manufacturing to bring hardware innovations – like 3D-printed cars– to market at unprecedented speed.

“It’s a whole new model and it is going to disrupt a lot of businesses. You all have a chance to be part of this,” he said. “Big companies, like Siemens, are starting to think this way, too.”

Siemens and Penn State have a long history of collaboration, which was formalized in a strategic partnership formed in 2012. The alliance -- the first of its kind between Siemens and an American university -- includes research collaborations, an enhanced recruiting relationship and engagement across a range of University programs.

Siemens has also provided Penn State students access to its Siemens Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software with the goal of enhancing the University’s academic and research programs.  Penn State students can utilize the same Siemens PLM software used by manufacturers globally. 

“One of the reasons I’m here is to talk about this software. We really want you using it,” Spiegel said. “We see a big shortage of people with the skills we need.”

In addition to on-campus partnerships, many PSU grads find a professional home at Siemens after graduation.  “Penn State is our number one school in the U.S. for alumni employees,” Spiegel said. Siemens has “at least 650 alumni” and counting, he added.

Jason Prignoli, a senior mechanical engineering student who attended Spiegel’s talk, was an engineering intern at Siemens in Atlanta, Ga. in summer 2016.

“It was great to see Mr. Spiegel on campus,” Prignoli said. “During my time there, I saw firsthand how Siemens maintains a traditional large company approach on the outside, but innovates like small businesses on the inside. There’s a real nimbleness there.”

Prignoli said Siemens is a place he might like to work after he graduates in December.

With its U.S. headquarters in Washington, D.C., Siemens is a global technology company focused on the areas of electrification, automation and digitalization. Siemens USA has $22.4 billion in revenue, $5.5 billion in exports and approximately 50,000 employees in the U.S. and over 70 manufacturing sites across the U.S. From efficient power generation to digital factories, from wellhead to thermostat, and from medical diagnostics to locomotives and light rail vehicles, Siemens in the United States delivers solutions for industry, hospitals, utilities, cities and manufacturers. Siemens’ next-generation software is used in every phase of product development, enabling manufacturers to optimize and customize equipment that touches American lives every day.


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Chris Hennessey


Eric Spiegel speaks with a student

Eric Spiegel talks with Jason Prignoli, a senior mechanical engineering student and former Siemens intern.



The Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Penn State is one of the nation’s largest and most successful engineering departments. We serve more than 1,000 undergraduate students and more than 330 graduate students

We offer B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering as well as resident (M.S., Ph.D.) and online (M.S., M.Eng.) graduate degrees in nuclear engineering and mechanical engineering. MNE's strength is in offering hands-on experience in highly relevant research areas, such as energy, homeland security, biomedical devices, and transportation systems.

Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

137 Reber Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2519