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Beyond the Classroom


Initially, the Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI) provided opportunities for teams of MBA students in the second half of their programs along with graduate students in Science, Technology, and Engineering to undertake semester long corporate consulting projects. Since ELI’s launch in the fall of 2009, more than 800 students from 7 colleges and 15 academic units have successfully undertaken over 160 projects for a wide variety of client organizations. The program has expanded to include Tech Commercialization projects and Lean LaunchPad

We offer three courses: Corporate Consulting, Tech Commercialization, and Lean LaunchPad . Each course is a full semester (16 weeks), 4 credits, and offered during the fall and spring semesters. Corporate Consulting classes meet throughout the semester, bi-weekly, covering topics such as consulting methods, problem solving, project management, presenting and storytelling, and team development.  Tech Commercialization teams receive in depth training on business model development and technology commercialization. Lean LaunchPad classes meet one night every week and are financially supported by a Purdue NSF I-Corps Site grant.


Corporate Consulting ELI projects are for teams of 4-5 students with a variety of skills and backgrounds. Typically, the presented problem requires a cross-functional or an interdisciplinary perspective that provides an opportunity for a team of students to apply and integrate their diverse knowledge and skills. The objective of all ELI projects is to enable decision and action on the client organizations part. We follow a rigorous methodology that ensures a purposeful, comprehensive, and hypothesis-driven approach to data collection and analysis. This enables the generation of insights and recommendations that are both impactful and actionable.


Tech Commercialization ELI projects are intended for students with an interest in creating economic value and social impact from technology innovation.  Over the course of a semester, the students work with several Purdue Principal Investigator (PI)/Founders who have developed a technology with commercial potential.  These projects are highly collaborative and provide a great opportunity for exposure to the wide range of STEM research being conducted at Purdue.  Typically the project activity revolves around business model development with particular focus on testing and clarifying the value proposition, customer segment, marketing/distribution, and revenue stream components.


Lean LaunchPad teaches graduate students in science, engineering, technology, and management how to assess whether their idea or technology can serve as the basis of a business. The focus is on the marketplace where students must validate that their idea has value in order to move into the commercial world, whether via startup, licensing, or strategic partnership. The outcome of the class is an investment-ready business model and commercialization plan for the idea or technology that the team has been exploring. Equally important is the experiential and evidence-based learning that will inform and shape the students’ ongoing translational research.


The National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps or NSF I-Corps is a public-private partnership program that teaches university faculty and graduate student entrepreneurs with a targeted curriculum to identify valuable product opportunities that can emerge from academic research, and provides entrepreneurship training to participants. Purdue University is an officially designated NSF I-Corps site. Purdue Faculty and Graduate students can qualify for an I-Corps site grant to support the development of a business model and commercialization plan for their technology.