Jul 03 2018

3 Business Schools Put Tech to Work for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Higher education institutions are integrating cutting-edge technology to give MBA programs an upgrade.

Today’s booming startup culture is especially focused on technological advancements, and tech companies are dominating the business sphere. As of February, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook are the five most valuable companies in the U.S., Forbes reports

As a result of the changing climate, business schools are feeling the pressure to introduce modern technology hubs and innovation centers on campus in order to ensure today’s business students have the tools they need. 

For institutions looking to inject their business schools with the latest education technology, finances may seem like the biggest hurdle. But in reality, there are many other pieces that need to be taken into account to produce successful results.

"There has to be a driving mission and vision behind it,” Jill Goebel, Southeast region education and culture practice area leader for Gensler, told Campus Technology. “We work with campuses on visioning sessions and interviews to unpack their culture and discover who is ready for it — what programs and leaders within the university have a willingness to be adaptive and go in and try things.”

For university administrators still searching for ideas on how to update their business schools, looking at others’ success is a good place to start.

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1. Harvard Innovation Lab Gives MBAs a Makerspace

Innovation requires space for creativity and the tools to turn ideas into reality. 

At Harvard University’s Innovation Lab (i-lab), students are able to hit the ground running by taking advantage of the numerous technological and collaborative resources available in the building. 

The lab are outfitted with 130 workstations, 12 conference rooms and a maker studio, where students are able to freely use 3D printers, wet and dry zones, collaborative team spaces, and tools to manufacture, solder, mold and assemble products.

Over the last 7 years, more than 30 companies have launched from the i-lab, with over 575 teams participating in the school’s Venture Incubation Program (VIP).

“When the i-lab opened its doors in 2011, no one could have predicted the extraordinary response it would receive — or have imagined just how much it would offer to the world in the way of great ideas, improvements, and inspirations,” Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard’s 28th president, wrote in a report about the program. “It is among the most energizing spaces that exist at Harvard today, a point of connection for students from across the University.” 

2. Northwestern Global Hub Expands Learning With Flexible Classrooms

The world of business is a fast-paced, immersive environment that requires flexibility and movement.

At Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, students are able to shape both what they learn and the environment in which they learn it with flexible classrooms at the Global Hub.

Using advanced integrated technology, professors and students are able to manipulate the room for any need, from tiered, lecture-style seating to smaller spaces ideal for project-based learning.

Visual and audio tools allow students from all over the country, and the world, to “beam in” to classes and participate in course discussions. The technology also allows guest lecturers and speakers, who may be too busy to travel to the university, to present remotely.

“We’ve transformed business education, and we’re doing it again. This building symbolizes that in the most potent and powerful way,” Sally Blount, dean of the Kellogg School of Management, says in a university statement

3. University of Washington Fosters Modern Tech Integration

At the University of Washington Michael G. Foster School of Business, 58 percent of graduates in 2017 landed jobs in the technology industry, Poets & Quants reports

The secret behind this success is a mixture of exposure to modern technology tools and professors trained in those tools, Naomi Sanchez, assistant dean for MBA career management and corporate recruiting, tells the business school website.

“We have a rich external base, as well as a rich faculty that is comfortable and focused on e-commerce and digital and machine learning and AI. We have built that in, both on the academic side and the practical side,” she says.

On campus, business students have access to CoMotion, the University of Washington makerspace. There, budding entrepreneurs are able to use tools similar to HTC Vive or Google Cardboard to stimulate creative business solutions. Students can also access 3D printers and laser cutters similar to the Afinia Emblaser 2 to manufacture product prototypes.

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