For Stevens Students, an Italian Venue Sets the Tone for Acquiring Entrepreneurial Skills

7/8/2014

What does the term ‘study abroad’ conjure up?

Learning, culture, communication, collaboration, anticipation and anxiety are some of the phrases that come to mind – and these, and many such similar expressions were used by a group of undergraduate students who travelled to Naples, Italy for a Stevens two-week immersion course in Entrepreneurial Analysis of Engineering Design.

Initiated in 2013 by the School of Systems & Enterprises (SSE) at Stevens, in collaboration with the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Naples Federico II, the two-week, three-credit spring extension course in Entrepreneurial Analysis of Engineering Design offers a unique learning and cultural experience for students from various parts of the globe.

“We live in an era where understanding and interacting with global communities has become a required skill-set in our personal and professional lives,” said Dr. Kate Abel, industry professor and director of the undergraduate engineering management program at SSE. “Expanding our student’s academic and personal growth to make them successful entrepreneurs is at the heart of our program and an illustration of the Stevens strategic priority of Student-Centricity.”

The 2014 spring session in Naples truly had an international flavor. With 14 students from across Stevens, eight from the University of Arkansas and several others from Tec De Monterey and University of Naples Federico II, the program was an amalgamation of cross-cultural learning, team building and entrepreneurial thinking.

“The experience that I received from this trip was more than what I originally expected,” said Hannah Siddoti, a bio-medical major at Stevens. “Besides learning about the challenges in the setting up of new engineering ventures and the steps involved in taking an idea from innovation to the marketplace, the experience of working in a group with students and teachers from different cultures, hearing their stories and professional perspectives, and learning to connect and communicate on a global platform, were some of my key takeaways from the program.”

“The goal is to provide students an introduction to business design and launch an understanding of the global work environment, with concepts of student exchange, diversification and collaboration through a full immersion format,” said Dr. Luca Iandoli, associate professor of engineering and innovation management at the School of Engineering, University of Naples Federico II (Italy) and visiting research professor in the engineering management division at SSE. "The immersion format allows students to  experience working within an international team along with experiencing the culture and business environment of a new country.”

For Kristin Salmins, a mechanical engineering major at Stevens, the trip was a bit nerve-wracking to begin with. “Not having ever traveled outside the continent and to a non-English speaking land, I was not sure what to expect. But, it was amazing. From the fantastic curriculum, to learning about the world around me, to making new friends and memories, the trip has given me a new attitude towards myself and the world.”

Besides the classroom learning, the field trips is what made the program truly educational and immersive.

“Visiting a mozzarella factory and a winery to see the operational processes of a real business - to see how a start-up comes to life, the experience was illuminating and reinforced many of the concepts that we had been ‘theoretically’ taught in class,” said Elizabeth Pascetta, an engineering management student at Stevens. “Above all, the opportunity to enjoy the fresh mozzarella and savor different wines was a wonderful part of the visit.”

The Archaeological Museum, the Phoenician steps, Mount Vesuvius, the city of Pompeii and the coast of Capri were some of the other places the students visited - places that accentuated the culture and heritage of the country and its people, and made the entire trip enjoyable and completely immersive.

“The importance of being able to connect, communicate and collaborate with people is crucial to being a successful entrepreneur and innovator in the world today,” said Dr. Iandoli. “We want our students to broaden their horizons by adapting quickly and managing the tensions as well as opportunities that arise from cultural differences.

To learn more about the study abroad opportunity offered through SSE and to be a part of the international experience, click here.