Manning School of Business GE2 program wins national award

Jessica Kergo
Connector Staff

The Manning School of Business was recently chosen to receive the 2018 Andrew Heiskell award for Innovation in International Education for its Global Entrepreneurship Exchange (GE2) program. The Institute of International Education has selected the faculty-led, exchange program for the award’s Study Abroad category.

In 2014, senior lecturer Professor Ashwin Mehta pursued his desire to develop Entrepreneurial Education by hosting a pilot study abroad course. The pilot received such positive feedback that it continued for 12 more sessions, evolving into a multinational, bilateral exchange program with sites in Lowell, China and India.

Students can earn three credits with this course, with the option to partake in an additional three-credit summer course offered at UMass Lowell for international students’ exchange experiences.

GE2 consists of a two week intensive class session that familiarizes students with the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and innovation in addition to discussions with local entrepreneurs, visits to a variety of local companies, and cultural site visits.

The most significant aspect of the program is the team project that students work on as part of the coursework. Students are divided into groups of five multidisciplinary and multicultural students. Professors prompt the students to work with projects that require innovative, entrepreneurial solutions to specific issues. Students perform customer and market analysis, competition analysis, and validations for the business idea. Topics and business ideas are provided through both UMass Lowell’s faculty research projects and real company products.

Students like freshman biomedical engineering major Jennifer Schultz highlights GE2 as a significant learning experience study with students from other backgrounds.

“Being able to work with people from global cultures is an incredibly important skill,” said Schultz.

She adds that she knows the GE2 program will help her career aspirations in prosthetics. Schultz, who participated in GE2’s most recent trip to India, brought her own innovative project to work on the course. She credits the groupwork aspect of GE2 as an avenue to develop her DifferenceMaker idea. Schultz’s project “Handy Bandage” is a sock bandage that aims to prevent septicemia (blood poisoning) while a patient is awaiting treatment. The bandage won first place in the Engineering DifferenceMaker competition last fall, inspiring Schultz to continue developing their idea from the business perspective local entrepreneurs, visits to a variety of local companies and cultural site visits.

The most significant aspect of the program is the team project that students work on as part of the coursework. Students are divided into groups of five multidisciplinary and multicultural students. Professors prompt the students to work with projects that require innovative, entrepreneurial solutions to specific issues. Students perform customer and market analysis, competition analysis and validations for the business idea. Topics and business ideas are provided through both UMass Lowell’s faculty research projects and real company products.

Students like freshman biomedical engineering major Jennifer Schultz highlights GE2 as a significant learning experience study with students from other backgrounds.

“Being able to work with people from global cultures is an incredibly important skill,” said Schultz.

She adds that she knows the GE2 program will help her career aspirations in prosthetics. Schultz, who participated in GE2’s most recent trip to India, brought her own innovative project to work on the course. She credits the groupwork aspect of GE2 as an avenue to develop her DifferenceMaker idea. Schultz’s project “Handy Bandage” is a sock bandage that aims to prevent septicemia (blood poisoning) while a patient is awaiting treatment. The bandage won first place in the Engineering DifferenceMaker competition last fall, inspiring Schultz to continue developing their idea from the business perspective.

William Hanna, a senior accounting and finance major also studied in India over winter break through the GE2 program. Hanna notes the cultural exchange aspect as his favorite part of the program. “I met a lot of cool people,” said Hanna. He says that the most important lesson he learned through the program is that “everyone is the same everywhere you go; people are people.”

Hanna also values the leadership skills he was able to develop and says,  “Everyone at Lowell should do a study abroad program because the greater context is important.”

UMass Lowell offers students a variety of study abroad programs including partner-led programs, faculty-led programs and exchange programs. GE2 is a combination of a faculty-led program and an exchange program. Director of the Office of Study Abroad, Fern MacKinnon, highlights the program’s unique approach to conducting an international class by combining UMass Lowell students with students from around the world, explaining that “it [the course] involves students from other countries, so you’re seeing the subject from a broader lens.”

MacKinnon also notes the acknowledgement the award brings for UMass Lowell’s study abroad programs as a whole. She refers to it as “a great recognition for the university to highlight its focus on the international experience.”

UMass Lowell senior lecturer and program founder Professor Ashwin Mehta is very optimistic about the future of GE2. Since 2014, the program now has over 670 students from 12 different countries participating in the course.

“The global aspect of this program is so inspiring,” said Mehta.

He notes the extensive list of opportunities offered to students through the program which includes networking, résumé building and idea development.

Mehta credited the program’s combination of entrepreneurship and cultural education.

“We believe that entrepreneurship is becoming more internationalized. Students from other countries want to learn about what is happening here and students from America want to know what is happening in other parts of the world,” said Mehta.

Professor Mehta will receive the Andrew Heiskell Award on March 16th at the Institute of International Education’s annual Best Practices in Internationalization Conference in New York City. The Manning School of Business’ Global Entrepreneurship Exchange Program will be hosting two study abroad opportunities this summer: China from June 4 to June 15 and India from June 18 to June 29. Anyone interested in participating can email Professor Ashwin Mehta (ashwin_mehta@uml.edu) for more information or apply through UMass Lowell’s Office of Study Abroad website.

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