UMU Faculty Attend Babson College’s Entrepreneurship Education Symposium

June 30, 2016

Chad KorachPete SchnellerLori BraaBOSTON, Massachusetts - Six faculty members from the University of Mount Union had an opportunity to attend a week long teaching conference at Babson College, the premier entrepreneurship education center located in Boston, Massachusetts.

Those attending included Dr. Lori Braa, assistant professor of human performance and sport business, Dr. Peter Schneller, associate professor of education, Dr. Chad Korach, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, Mike Kachilla, director of the entrepreneurial studies program Dr. Ron Mendel, associate professor of human performance and sport business and Kevin Kern, professor of theatre. 

The program ran from May 30 through June 3. Sixty-two professionals from around the world attended the conference with 27 attendees from 15 different countries including: China, Korea, Brazil, Uruguay, Denmark, Spain, Italy and Saudi Arabia. The remaining attendees were from the United States.

Kevin Kern

Ron MendelMike KachillaThe intended outcome of the week was to better understand how to integrate entrepreneurial competencies across many disciplines.

“Babson was an incredible experience for me, being able to collaborate with experts in the field and the ability to network with others from around the world opened my world to possibilities,” said Braa. “My eyes have been opened to the importance of the entrepreneurial concept and how it’s the new way of thinking throughout the world.” 

The Babson faculty did not just talk about how to teach entrepreneurship; they enacted entrepreneurship in the classroom by using various exercises and teaching moments, moments where they paused in presenting information and discussed the impact on the students.

Mendel stated, “Even though it was uncomfortable, the interaction with fellow attendees during the sessions was extremely important in actually getting a sense of what they were talking about. Even though I would have preferred to just sit and listen, it definitely would not have been as impactful nor would I have retained as much as I have.”

One of the first sessions included “The Mindset for Entrepreneurship Education” followed by an exercise where students were placed in teams to complete a 300 piece jigsaw puzzle as fast as possible. Incrementally, the members of the groups were pulled from the puzzle task and taken to the quilt room where they were told to take six pieces or clothes and create a quilt. The best quilt would win. Learning points from the exercise demonstrated that solving problems are more like making a quilt than putting a puzzle together. The quilt making reinforced to the participants the importance of starting with what you have not waiting to start until everything is in place and using resources in different ways.

Other sessions discussed “Design Thinking,” and “Idea Generation” where the goal was to generate as many solutions to a problem as possible within a specified time, “Iteration and Learning from Failure,” and “Opportunity Evaluation and Market Tests.”  The week was capped off with the “Rocket Pitch” event. 

A Rocket Pitch is a three-minute presentation with no more than three slides that describes a solution to a specific problem, which all Babson students become very proficient at by their graduation. The goal is for the presenters to sell the audience that they have the best solution for a particular problem. The participants at this conference had to sell the audience on what new idea will enhance entrepreneurship education experience.

There were many takeaways from this experience. Korach said, “Entrepreneurship is not a class, or a set of topics to teach but a mindset that can be applied to anything you do.” 

Kern is looking forward to organizing high school entrepreneurship weekend where, “…15 to 20 high school rising seniors are taking classes from UMU professors, working on projects, and doing presentations at the end of the event that provide solutions to real problems.” 

Schneller, in education for 41 years, said, “I will include entrepreneurship in my classes and allow my students to think about the many ways that they will be asked to be entrepreneurs throughout their careers.”

The opportunity to attend this symposium was provided through funding from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation. The foundation focuses its entrepreneurship grant making in three areas: youth, collegiate and adult. At the youth level, the foundation actively promotes classroom-based and experiential entrepreneurship activities ranging from business plan competitions to lemonade stands to student trade shows.

Mount Union’s entrepreneurial studies program encourages students to think entrepreneurially and develop solutions that will solve problems in the world. The program offers students an opportunity to minor in the topic of entrepreneurship, participate in “Raider Tank,” Mount Union’s version of a rocket pitch, work and learn from area entrepreneurs and participate in the competitions in Northeast Ohio.

For more information, contact Kachilla at 330 829-6647 or kachilma@mountunion.edu. 

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