Study Abroad Offers Hands-on Learning in India
By Jill Gambon
School of Nursing junior Sarah Post loves to travel and thought a study abroad course in India over winter break would feed her desire to see more of the world. What she didn’t expect was to come home with a new perspective on how to approach the health-care profession.
Post was one of nine UMass Lowell students to participate in an 11-day entrepreneurship course in Hubli, India held in partnership with B.V. Bhoomaraddi College of Engineering and Technology (BVB). Students from the Manning School of Business
and the School of Nursing
collaborated with BVB students on technology commercialization projects and other group exercises. Post, who had never enrolled in a business class before, now feels like she can think like an entrepreneur when addressing problems that might come up at work.
“What I learned allows me to view the world in a different light,” she says. “I learned how to identify a problem and develop a solution. I can think about how to make improvements.”
MSB lecturers Ashwin Mehta
and Deborah Finch
led the trip. Nitin Kulkarni, director of BVB’s Center for Technology Entrepreneurship, taught the three-credit course along with them.
“One of the amazing parts about this trip was the way the students worked together,” says Mehta. “We wanted to create interdisciplinary teams and we got a great mix of students.”
Several assistive technology capstone projects that UMass Lowell engineering students had done along with projects the BVB students developed served as the basis for the group work. The projects covered such topics as water purification, a plant disease identification application and home automation. The student teams had to come up with ways to bring the technology to market, identifying potential customers, resources, financing and distribution channels.
For William Guidry, a chemical engineer enrolled in the online MBA program
, a highlight was meeting with successful entrepreneurs, including Desh and Jaishree Deshpande, co-founders of the Deshpande Foundation. Guidry, who works for global technology supplier Invensys in Houston, is planning to launch his own company within a year. He says he can apply the insight gained in the course to his business plans.
“I got so much out of the experience. I got to meet so many entrepreneurs, so many big thinkers,” he says. In addition, working with teammates who had different backgrounds provided Guidry with a fresh perspective on how to solve problems.
“I saw how nursing, engineering and business students approach a problem differently. I realized you can take different routes to get to the same end point. That was eye-opening,” says Guidry, who as an online student met faculty and fellow students face-to-face for the first time.
In addition to the coursework, the group did some sightseeing, visiting cultural and historic sites. The students all lived together on the BVB campus, which made it easy to bond with their Indian hosts, Post says.
Working on a multi-cultural team with partners from different disciplines and backgrounds is exactly the type of environment students will likely encounter in the work force, says Finch.
“Future employers will take note of that,” she says.