By Ed Brennen
Life-changing experiences can be few and far between, but senior economics major Mike Maguire discovered one last winter when he traveled to India with the Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation study abroad program.
“It was incredible. I loved every second of it,” says Maguire, who enjoyed the Manning School of Business program so much that he re-enrolled in the intensive two-week course once again this summer when it was held at UMass Lowell.
Maguire was one of 18 undergraduate and graduate students to participate in the three-credit summer session, which offered an opportunity to collaborate on entrepreneurial projects in small groups with 43 students visiting from India, China and Japan. A second summer session drew 55 MBA students from Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.
Since launching in 2014, the Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation program has attracted more than 600 students from eight countries. “And that’s because we have so many faculty, staff and guests at UMass Lowell who have supported us throughout,” says Manning School senior lecturer Ashwin Mehta, who runs the program along with Nitin Kulkarni from KLE Technological University in Hubli, India.
The program alternates between winter sessions in Hubli and summer sessions in Lowell — and this summer a new session was added in China. In July, Mehta and Assoc. Prof. Yi Yang, chair of the Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Innovation department, will take three UMass Lowell students to Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunication, an international partner institution of the university. Once there, they will collaborate with 20 KLE students as well as students from Nanjing.
Sophia Laura DeAraujo participated in last winter’s India course before graduating from the Manning School in May with a concentration in international business. She says the experience was a major factor in landing a full-time job at Alcyone Lifesciences, a Lowell biotech company whose CEO hails from India.
“When I was able to say during my interview that I was in Hubli, at the college where the Deshpande Foundation is based, that was a big selling point,” says DeAraujo, who shared her story with the summer participants — including several friends she made in India — during a reception at University Crossing. “Going to India opened my eyes to so many new things, and I am so thankful for this program.”
In addition to the group project work, the summer program features guest lectures from a dozen Manning School faculty members, a tour of the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub and visits to local tech companies. Students in this summer’s first session visited Amazon Robotics in North Reading, Wintriss Controls in Acton and MKS Instruments Inc. in Methuen, where alum Jerry Colella ’78 is CEO and president.
Another alum, Wayne Cole ’90, gave students an overview of the global operations at MKS and a tour of the facility that focused on process and environmental analysis solutions.
“It’s fun to engage with people that are excited to learn about entrepreneurship,” says Cole, vice president and general manager of business units at MKS, who has been involved with the program all four years. “We have a very diverse workforce here, and this is just another example of the strong collaboration between MKS and UMass Lowell.”
At the University Crossing reception, where students from India wore colorful saris and kurtas, Manning School founder Stuart Mandell recalled launching a course in international trade a half century earlier — back when business education was far more “insular.”
“The opportunity to visit another country and to see how people live is much more important, in some respects, than book learning,” Mandell told the students. “And that’s what this program is all about. What Prof. Mehta has done here is wonderful.”
Wearing a bright red kurta he bought in India, Maguire posed for pictures at the reception with friends he made in Hubli six months earlier.
“I was nervous going over there, but their culture just embraces you,” said Maguire, who is considering returning to India after completing his degree in December. “To have the students come here and to show them our side of the story is a really awesome experience.”