Cross-Level, Cross-Disciplinary, Cross-Cultural Collaborations in Action: A Public Service Educational Initiative Integrating Health, Engineering and Entrepreneurship

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This paper outlines a project that represents collaboration between faculty members across three colleges: Professional Studies (Health), Engineering and Business at one University to educate a group of high school students, a class of undergraduate engineering students and two classes of MBA Entrepreneurs hip students in social entrepreneurship activities. The project began by sending a group of students to Guatemala for a summer program designed to excite them about careers in health, science and engineering by having them conduct needs assessments and develop preliminary solutions for needy citizens in the developing country. The next step involved having engineering students spend a year developing long term solutions to the issues faced by the community members. Finally, students in MBA Entrepreneurs hip courses took these engineering solutions and developed business plans to determine feasibility and implementation of the solutions effectively and efficiently. The project is an example for other colleges and universities of how the AACSB goal of integrating innovation and cross-college collaborations can be accomplished.

INTRODUCTION

Q According to a recent report of the AACSB International Task Force on Business Schools and Innovation (2010), a business school's mission should include fostering innovation. One of the models suggests that a way to integrate innovation is to develop cross-disciplinary collaborations both within and outside of the Business school. This paper outlines such collaboration. The program includes students at three levels of education: stage 1 involves high school students, stage 2 involves undergraduate engineering students and the final stage involves MBA students in entrepreneurship. The project focus for all three groups is on helping the community of Calhuitz, Guatamala.

In spring 2009, Global Public Service Academies (GPSA) issued a request for proposals titled Innovative Experiences to Promote Science, Engineering and Math Majors to High School Students Self-Identifying as Being Interested in Health Careers. Faculty from Florida Gulf Coast University's (FGCU) Bioengineering and Nursing programs collaborated to submit a proposal for a study abroad experience for high school students. FGCU engineering faculty were interested in the grant opportunity as a potential resource for finding future student design projects to be used in an upper level undergraduate class, which would incorporate challenges of international engineering design. The faculty members were specifically interested in design projects for a developing country. Since none of the interested engineering faculty had experience with international programs, a nursing faculty member was asked to join the grant team as she had experience taking college students to Guatemala as well as Peace Corps experience in Guatemala. The nursing faculty member specialized in maternal and child care as well as health care delivery in the developing world.

The grant was awarded to FGCU for a four year GPSA summer program. The engineering faculty would deliver an engineering design curriculum for high school students through a course entitled "Problem Solving and Design for Developing Countries". Included in the curriculum is the engineering design process and needs assessment. The nursing faculty would teach the high school students how to conduct health assessments on pregnant women and children. The final grant team consisted of three engineering faculty members and one nursing faculty member. The goal of this paper is to discuss how this project is being implemented in order to demonstrate how different schools, programs and colleges can work together not just to benefit themselves but also to engage in a type of social entrepreneurship, benefiting others throughout the process.

BACKGROUND

The recent AACSB International Task Force report points out that innovation is needed more than ever to reenergize our economy and add value to our society. …