Hoeft T&M Alumni Q&A




Samantha Knoll
B.S. ’11, M.S. ’13, Ph.D. ’16, Engineering Mechanics
Hoeft T&M Class XV
Member of the T&M Alumni Association
Global Product Lead at The Climate Corporation

Q: Tell me a little bit about your role working as Global Product Lead at The Climate Corporation.

A: As a Global Product Lead at the Climate Corporation, I lead the Intelligence & Analytics product domain, which focuses on translating data science models into digital product concepts that generate insights for customers. In this role, I lead a team of product managers who do everything from market research, to product requirements development, to design and implementation. Because our flagship digital product, Climate FieldView™, is based in the physical sciences (agriculture!), we have the privilege of working in both the technical and business domains. I couldn’t be more excited to be driving innovation that is helping farmers worldwide make better decisions, and sustainably increasing agricultural productivity.

Q: How did your minor from The Hoeft T&M program prepare you for your job at The Climate Corporation?

A: The T&M Program equipped me with the skills and confidence to pursue an entrepreneurial venture and start my own company. During my time running the company, I had the opportunity to participate in funding competitions, and meet numerous business & technology leaders. This experience ultimately led to connections at what would eventually become my future employer--Bayer (legacy Monsanto) and its digital-focused subsidiary, the Climate Corporation.
The Hoeft T&M minor prepared me for this job through its one-of-a-kind curriculum and unmatched exposure to global business. Thanks to T&M, I developed a deep empathy for disciplines of all kinds, and I frequently leverage it to move work forward. I often say that my training in the Hoeft program has made me “multilingual” in a sense; allowing me to effectively speak the language of many different business partners, which continues to expedite success in my career.

Samantha Knoll poses in a field of soybean plants

Q: Do you stay connected with members of Hoeft Class XV? Did any mentors, or anyone connected with the program, influence your career decisions? What did you learn from them?

A: I have stayed connected with members of my T&M class XV, as well as some in the surrounding classes through the T&M Alumni Association. Many of these are strong friendships that will last for years to come.

Professor Michael and John Quarton are two of my most valued mentors and have continued to play important roles in my professional development over the years. They each distinctively supported me during my entrepreneurial pursuits when I co-founded a company during graduate school and continue to advise me on career development today. John has helped me expand my professional network in countless ways that have paid dividends as I navigate new opportunities. Prof. Michael has taught me the value of earning an advanced degree, specifically a PhD, and the power of utilizing it to open unthinkably enriching career options. I still regularly consult both John and Prof. Michael for advice from time to time and am grateful for their mentorship.

Q: How, or why, is this program still important to engineering students entering a global economy?

A: Every new technology presents unique business problems that often transcend environments, locations, and geographies. My experience in this program broadened my view of engineering-based problems, enabling me to see both the technical details and their impact on global business outcomes. T&M offers early exposure to complex challenges, instilling the ability to see a problem from someone else’s point of view; i.e. what works in one part of the world, oftentimes won’t work in another. At a time when mass data drives many aspects of our economy, technology doesn’t stop at country borders. The value of T&M is not only that it enriches your curriculum and professional network, but it teaches you how to think through a global lens. I find this ability more important now than ever.