Since its inception in 2014, more than 230 students from eight countries have participated in UMass Lowell’s semi-annual Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation course. This winter, 60 students from the United States, India, China, Japan and Thailand came together in Hubli, India, for two weeks of intensive entrepreneurship learning in a multicultural, multidisciplinary environment.
Led by Manning School of Business lecturer Ashwin Mehta, along with Nitin Kulkarni from KLE Technological University (formerly BVB College of Engineering and Technology) in Hubli and Cao Yadong, a faculty member from China, the three-credit course is designed to help students understand the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship in today’s global economy and to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset.
Participants, which included 14 students from UMass Lowell, were broken up into 12 teams, each with at least one student from the U.S., India and China, and each with a mix of business and engineering students. The groups collaborated on real-life projects with start-up companies, as well as with established nonprofit and for-profit organizations, making multiple presentations and engaging in discussions with local entrepreneurs.
Participants attended the “Make in India” conference, which focuses on innovation in engineering education. They also spent a day on a local farm started by a doctor from Dharwad who spoke to students about creating biodiversity. Students took a tour of the farm where crops include coffee, cinnamon, sandalwood and mangos.
Participants also got to celebrate the New Year with peers from different cultures, attend an Indian wedding and visit the Taj Mahal.
In the spring of 2017, the Manning School will begin offering its minor in entrepreneurship to KLE undergraduate students on the Hubli campus. Two MSB faculty members — Asst. Prof. of Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Michael Ciuchta and Entrepreneurial Initiatives Project Director Holly Butler — joined this winter’s trip to begin training KLE faculty to teach the five courses that make up the program.
Here is what students from UMass Lowell, as well as other participating institutions, had to say about the experience:
- Brian Pena, MSB MBA student: “The exchange program gave me the opportunity not only to build on my educational career and professional experience, but also to form everlasting friendships that were fruit of genuine connections with one another. The experience allowed me the opportunity to reflect not only on my career goals, but life in general. I will forever cherish the experience afforded to me through this program.”
- Christine Ngugi, MSB undergraduate student: “My friends and I spent an evening with the beautiful kids of Sushanti Children's home in Karnataka, which was by far my best day ever in Hubli. Seeing them smile because we spent a couple of hours with them just melts my heart. They are so precious, so innocent, so beautiful and really smart. Although we barely understood words they said we did play with them and that meant a lot to them.They kept calling me ‘Akka,’ which I later found out means ‘big sister’ in Kannada. Having other kids besides my siblings call me ‘big sister’ is an honor because it makes me think about and pray for them everyday.They truly are the reason why I'd love to go back to Hubli to visit.”
- Joseph Hyatt, MSB undergraduate student: “When we were touring through Delhi the tour guide knew an old snake charmer. We were able to get off the bus and interact with him and his snakes. He had two snakes, a charming flute and, while we met him on the street, his beard, age and bite marks were enough accreditation for me.“
- Abha Kulkarni, KLE Technological University student: “All through this course, the classes were great, very informative and intense. I also enjoy working in teams after class. But, I want to talk about the learning outside class. Each person I have met has a wonderful story to share. There is a great amount of learning in every conversation I have had. I have learnt from one of my American friends that you can do whatever you want if your vision is clear and you have a passion to do what you love. You just have to keep working persistently, have continuous undeterred efforts. I learnt from another Chinese friend that even though you face hardships in terms of resources and support, even though people will try to bring you down, if you have the willpower you can do what you want anyway. I had had some deep conversations with a few people and I realize that, deep down we are all in the same boat, we all go through the same kinds of confusion in adolescence. But ultimately, we all have our own unique ways to sail through it.”
- Yukiko Oikawa, Abitus MBA student from Japan: “It was a great experience with working as a team in multinational environment.We had a difficulty in communication with four Indian students, one Chinese student and one Japanese student in our team.However, we had a clear goal in two weeks therefore we tried hard to understand each other to achieve our goal. We all felt great after we have done our final presentation and appreciated each other. This was truly a lifetime event.”
- Ryan Lally, business student from Middlesex Community College: “I celebrated my 19th birthday on January 3rd in Hubli, India. On that day, we bought toys and games at a local book store and brought them to an orphanage to give to the kids. While there, I had a couple of magic tricks from my children's show with me and I performed them for the kids. After the performance, the director of the orphanage spoke to the kids in Hindu, then called me back up before the kids, where they all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. It was a birthday I would have never dreamed of a year ago.”