Loyola University New Orleans’ College of Business announced a Space Act Agreement with NASA that will partner Loyola MBA students with Stennis Space Center engineers to commercialize a new technology patent. The partnership is part of NASA’s Technology Transfer University (T2U) initiative, which seeks to engage business students to use NASA intellectual property and spur economic development and growth.
The agreement comes during a period of expansion on Loyola’s campus. The updates to the university’s infrastructure and the addition of new programs—including the NASA partnership—are meant to bolster Loyola’s emphasis on experiential learning as the university continues to anticipate the future.
“This is an unprecedented experiential learning opportunity for our MBA students,” said Ashley Francis, director of Graduate Programs at the College of Business. “Loyola MBA students will work directly with NASA engineers and administrators to study and attempt to commercialize NASA technologies.”
“We are thrilled to have a working relationship with one of the most important agencies in the United States,” said Bill Locander, dean of the Loyola College of Business. “NASA’s patents and technologies are the kinds of things that show promise for the future. This is an opportunity for our MBA students to be a part of that promise and to learn through real experiences.”
The MBA program at Loyola has evolved to stress the value of experiential learning, in addition to the appeal of Loyola’s small class size and student-to-teacher ratio. As part of that evolution, five students will work with NASA engineers at Stennis Space Center, providing communication, marketing and business planning strategies for a new technology.
“This kind of effort is built on the understanding that NASA technology not only enables space exploration but impacts and benefits all areas of daily life,” Stennis Center Director Rick Gilbrech said. “We are proud to work with Loyola University and look forward to a successful partnership.”
Professors Rob Lalka and Jon Atkinson lead the course, in which students will apply the new “lean launchpad” business model to a patent they select from the portfolio at Stennis. Lean Launchpad is an experiential learning module that is becoming the curriculum of choice for leading entrepreneurial universities, commercial incubator programs, and the National Science Foundation. Participants gain real world experience by getting out of the classroom and talking to customers, partners and competitors.
In just four months, the students will use the model to develop a business plan that takes the new NASA technology from patent to market.
The College of Business stresses the importance and exclusivity of this program. Loyola is one of the only schools in the country to have signed a deal with NASA, and now that the relationship is established, there is potential for other collaborations throughout the year—and through other Loyola programs.
This partnership is one of several high-level engagement opportunities the MBA program is working to create for students, who need hands-on experience to be competitive in the job market.