BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING PROJECTS TO ENABLE DECISIONS AND ACTION
The Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI) provides 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 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.
WHAT’S A CORPORATE CONSULTING ELI PROJECT?
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. Strategizing and problem solving with students from other managerial and academic disciplines is a richly rewarding experience for the students and of great value to their client organizations. ELI corporate consulting projects are sponsored at a senior level of the client organizations to ensure the teams have access to the companies’ people, information, and other resources as well as the opportunity to present their findings to a group of senior stakeholders and decision makers. A project liaison is appointed by each client to interact with the team on a weekly basis.
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.
WHAT’S A TECH COMMERCIALIZATION ELI PROJECT?
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.
Students also assist selected applicants for the Trask Innovation Awards prepare their proposal presentations for the Trask Innovation Fund Advisory Council. The Trask Innovation Fund is a Purdue University development mechanism to assist faculty to further commercial potential of technologies disclosed to the Office of Technology Commercialization.
HOW ARE THE STUDENT TEAMS SUPPORTED?
ELI teams have access to faculty in the school of management and other faculty and subject matter experts across Purdue. An information specialist from our library system is assigned to each team to assist in secondary research and data collection. Throughout the semester, teams attend bi-weekly classes on topics including consulting methods, problem solving, project management, presenting and storytelling, and team development. Tech Commercialization teams receive in depth training on business model development before engaging with the PI/Founders.