Stevens Engineering Management Students Headed to Naples, Italy

This spring, some lucky Stevens students will get a taste of Italy—and the world of entrepreneurship – in a new international study program designed for future innovators.

Sixteen students from Stevens Institute of Technology (Hoboken, New Jersey) —along with students from Italy, Mexico and Colombia – will attend a two-week course, “Entrepreneurial Analysis of Engineering Design,” at the University of Naples Federico II in Naples, Italy.  This Stevens course, being held from May 20 – 30, 2013, is normally taught on campus through the School of Systems and Enterprises (SSE) at Stevens and is a popular course among engineering and engineering management majors in their senior year.

But with this new Stevens/University of Naples collaboration, Stevens students will learn the ins and outs of entrepreneurship – from making an effective elevator pitch to delving into the world of intellectual property – and also get the chance to work with students from different parts of the world and learn to live independently in a foreign country. While Stevens has a number of international study programs, this is the first undergraduate course being offered abroad by SSE.

SSE professors Jose Emmanuel Ramirez-Marquez and Kate Abel ’91, M.S. ’93, Ph.D. ’01, and Luca Iandoli, a  visiting scholar of SSE, are the Naples program’s directors, with Ramirez and Iandoli both teaching during the Naples course. Iandoli is an associate professor at the University of Naples Federico II – the first public university in the world that was founded in 1224 by Emperor Federico II – and his connection and Abel’s and Ramirez-Marquez’s advocacy helped make this new international study program possible. The cost of the three-credit course is covered by the students’ tuition.

The Stevens students attending the course, which will be taught in English, include engineering and engineering management majors. They will receive an introduction to the challenges of starting their own engineering ventures, and can use their Stevens Senior Design Projects as their idea. They will learn to make an elevator pitch, create and present a business plan, and do financial analysis and intellectual property work, as the course focuses on five themes: entrepreneurship, industry analysis and market research, intellectual property, data analysis and the economics of startups and costs.

Both Abel and Ramirez-Marquez agree that the study abroad experience benefits students both academically and personally.  The programs coursework will include guest lecturers and labs as well as real world experiences, such as visits to local companies like Alenia Aerospace. Students will also explore Naples and visit the city of Pompeii, among other fun group activities.  

“Everything is global now,” says Abel. “In their future work, these students will likely deal with vendors throughout the world, from a production company in China to a design group in India. Therefore, these students must become better aware of other cultures and environments to successfully compete in the global economy,”

Ramirez-Marquez shared that for some students, this will be their first time outside of the U.S., and can be a true growth experience.

“They have to figure out how to take the transportation; living in another country is different,” Ramirez-Marquez said. “They’ll learn daily skills of life in a foreign country.”

Increasing international programs and giving Stevens students more chances to study abroad are long term goals for the university, said Stevens Vice Provost of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Christos Christodoulatos, Ph.D. ’91,. He said study abroad helps students become more well-rounded in their education and in their knowledge of the world and its problems, and those students who are immersed in other cultures and who work with students from diverse backgrounds, benefit greatly.

“It helps them tremendously to become better scientists, better engineers, and it also develops communication skills,’’ Christodoulatos said. “We live in a global market place.”

Courses like the Naples entrepreneurship course also help students become more marketable because they teach important business skills in addition to technical skills, he added.

Stevens offers a number of international study experiences and is working to significantly increase these opportunities for students, said Keith Sheppard, associate dean of the Schaefer School of Engineering and Science. A Stevens course in Sustainable Engineering has been taught in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and Madrid, Spain; a group of students has done biomedical research in the Netherlands, as part of their ongoing research at Stevens, and, recently, students have participated in a summer program in Sustainable Tropical Heritage with Stevens’ partner university UKM in Malaysia. Stevens typically has 10 to 12 students per year who do semester study abroad on their own, with universities in Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Spain as the most popular destinations, Sheppard said.   

Darlene Ortillo, a junior civil engineering major, has traveled to Italy but not Naples. The Naples course combines her love of travel and her dream of starting her own business.

“I’ve been thinking of starting my own construction company—this will help,” she said.

Andrew Lau, a junior mechanical engineering and math major, meanwhile, will travel to Europe for the first time. These two weeks will give him the small taste of studying abroad that he’s been seeking, he said.

“It’s an opportunity not to pass up,” Lau said. “I always wanted to study abroad, and I never had the time to do a full semester. So this works out and Italy is a great place to do it.”