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Future entrepreneurs to convene for 'chaotic, creative, loud' week

07/23/2014

2012 EIW class

Here is the class photo from a recent Entrepreneur Immersion Week. As host for the 2014 week, UA's agenda includes a visit to the Akron Global Business Accelerator to meet entrepreneurs already growing businesses.


When Hazim Abualola applied to participate in Entrepreneur Immersion Week (EIW) at The University of Akron, he was looking for an opportunity to challenge himself, expand his business knowledge and become a better biomedical engineer after graduation.

From Aug. 3 to Aug. 8, the opportunity will become reality, not only for the UA junior, but also for 54 other students from colleges and universities across Northeast Ohio.

All majors welcome

The intensive academic immersion experience is open to undergraduate students of all disciplines.  This year’s diverse group includes a majority of nonbusiness majors — individuals who are studying everything from biology, chemistry and physics to psychology, nursing, computer science, fashion and art. Together, they will be introduced to the skills necessary to develop a new business concept, and then apply these skills in a team-based business concept competition.

Now in its eighth year, Entrepreneur Immersion Week is hosted by the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (EEC), of which UA is a founding member. The 11 participating Ohio colleges and universities rotate as hosts of the one-week residential program. Through a grant from the Burton Morgan Foundation, students are provided with a scholarship that includes room, meals, course materials, and organized special events. All participating students receive a stipend for completing the program.

At UA, participants, along with 17 faculty members from the 11 universities, will live in the Honors College Residence Hall. The packed schedule includes classes, brainstorming sessions, panel discussions and team meetings. It won’t be all work and no play — there is time scheduled for bowling and billiards in the Student Union and attendance at an Akron RubberDucks baseball game in nearby Canal Park.

Work begins with the welcome dinner on Sunday, Aug. 3, at 5:30 p.m.

Rene Polin of Balance Inc., in Cleveland will discuss how entrepreneurs can get the creative thought process moving before the 11 teams representing the member schools begin brainstorming ideas. Polin, two of his senior executives, and EIW faculty will coach, encourage and advise the teams as they develop their new ideas during the week.

Coaches to guide students

“This will be a fun, chaotic, creative, loud, exhilarating and we hope productive time,” says Robert E. Chalfant, director of the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium as well as the Fitzgerald Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at UA, where he also is a visiting lecturer in the College of Business Administration. “In previous years we left it to the students to come up with ideas without the benefit of this coaching session and it took too long to settle on one idea on which the whole team agreed.”

Guest speakers during the week will include young entrepreneurs, including some UA graduates.

  • Milan Patel, started his design company, Clasiq Design, while a UA student in a class taught by Chalfant. Today, company profits are funding his graduate studies at the University of North Carolina. He is making the T-shirts for UA’s EIW team and he will share his experiences at the noon luncheon on Monday, Aug. 4, in the Student Union Ballroom.
  • College of Engineering alumni, Courtney Gras and Tom Vo, founders of Design Flux Technologies, will be the guest speakers at the Awards Luncheon on Aug. 8 at noon in InfoCision Stadium.

As for Hazim Abualola, he is eager to immerse himself in all things entrepreneurial.

Early lessons will help shape career

“Business is such an important field in the world,” notes Abualola, an international student from Saudi Arabia. “My first priority is to make the most of this wonderful opportunity by learning new business concepts presented from the speakers and the groups, improving my communication skills by socializing and networking, and gaining from the experiences of the faculty of my university, and the other universities participating in the competition.” 

As for how the lessons of entrepreneurship will be applied in his career, that will take time, says Abualola, who hopes to first attend graduate school. “I will probably work at a company in my field to gain experience for a few years until I can start my own business.”

That students like Abualola have the opportunity to benefit from such lessons is just as important as the lessons themselves, notes Chalfant.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for our students that we have 11 universities in Northeast Ohio collaborating to apply experiential learning and academic rigor to entrepreneurship and business startups,” says Chalfant. “The EIW is creating value for our students and for the region.”

Visit the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium online for more information. To learn about entrepreneurial studies at The University of Akron, visit the Fitzgerald Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies.


Media contact: Denise Henry, 330-972-6477 or henryd@uakron.edu.