MEDIA, Pa. — Forty years after graduating from Penn State, Mo Paknejad, class of 1982, became an advisory board member for the University’s Brandywine campus.
Paknejad began his Penn State journey at the University Park campus in 1980, majoring in electrical engineering. He was involved in multiple organizations and activities across campus, including Karate Club and intramural volleyball.
Paknejad said that the friends he made at Penn State were the highlight of his college experience.
“The people I met through Penn State ended up becoming lifetime friends,” he said. “The friends I made in State College are working in different parts of the country, and we still keep in touch. They’re the greatest group of people I’ve met.”
“The friends I made in State College are working in different parts of the country, and we still keep in touch. They’re the greatest group of people I’ve met.”
—Mo Paknejad , Penn State alumnus, class of 1982
Paknejad has been working in engineering since graduating with his bachelor’s degree. He climbed the ladder at CTDI, a telecommunications and engineering company, starting as an electrical engineer and working up to an engineering manager and then director of engineering.
“I’ve had a great career at CTDI for the past 40 years,” he said. “I’ve been reporting to our chairman, Jerry Parsons, who was on the Penn State Brandywine Advisory Board for many years. He has been an inspiration and a great role model to me.”
Paknejad was destined to pursue engineering since he was in elementary school.
“I remember when I was in fourth grade, my mom told me that she’s always wanted me to become an engineer. That planted the seed in my head to pursue engineering,” he recalled. “In high school, I was actually interested in becoming a pilot in the Air Force, but I ended up sticking with my mom’s recommendation. Engineering turned out to be an excellent field, so I’m very happy with that decision.”
Taking classes in physics shifted Paknejad’s path to pursue electrical engineering.
In November 2022, Paknejad decided to join Brandywine’s Advisory Board, with the goal of becoming a mentor to students — not just in engineering, but in all majors.
“Since Jerry was stepping down from the board, he asked if I was interested in taking his spot and representing CTDI to maintain our strong connection with Penn State Brandywine,” he said. “I thought it was an honor to get involved with the University and represent CTDI.”
“As a seasoned professional, I can contribute a lot by sharing my experience and advice with engineering students or students in general to help them grow in whatever career they aspire to have,” he added. “I know what they’re going through.”
Paknejad said his favorite part of being on Brandywine’s Advisory Board is helping the Brandywine campus in its pursuit of excellence, serving as a mentor to students to help them become successful, and meeting great business people.
“As a seasoned professional, I can contribute a lot by sharing my experience and advice with engineering students or students in general to help them grow in whatever career they aspire to have. I know what they’re going through.”
—Mo Paknejad , Brandywine Advisory Board member
“I mentor students through internship and capstone projects at CTDI. I am involved with the Brandywine LaunchBox as a coach for the entrepreneurship program. I coach them and share my education and business experience to help them become successful,” he said. “Whatever the board needs, I make an effort to really participate and help them out. It gives me joy to see the students grow and become successful.”
Paknejad is currently working on a leadership training program that he believes will be very beneficial to college students.
“Based on my professional experience as an engineer and extensive leadership education, I’m working to develop a course that I can offer to students on campus so they can develop their leadership and human relation skills,” he said. “I’ve seen the benefits a leadership training program can have on an individual’s career and life. This is something I’m very passionate about.”
When asked what advice he would give to current Penn State students, Paknejad said they should get involved.
“Whether it’s a club, a sport, or just an activity happening on campus, get involved,” he said. “Sometimes, students find it hard to socialize with people they don’t know, but it’s important to take a step and meet others and collaborate with them. The people you meet could bring you new opportunities or become your lifelong friends.”
He also suggests that students take time every day to work on building their character.
“Each day you get up, be thankful for your blessings and your opportunities. Do your best to make it a productive day,” he said. “If you experience some failures, remember that is just part of life’s lessons to help you grow and become a stronger problem-solver. Focus on making the best version of yourself. You will get to enjoy your life so much more.”
“If you experience some failures, remember that is just part of life’s lessons to help you grow and become a stronger problem-solver."