UNO Enriches Innovation and Entrepreneurship with New Facility
UNO enriches innovation and entrepreneurship with new facility (from Silicon Prairie News)
Mammel Hall, which opened to faculty and students for the first time this fall, is the new home of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s College of Business Administration. Photo by Andrea Ciurej.
With the second week of the fall semester in full swing, students at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) are already becoming exposed to resources other than the typical information-heavy textbooks and academic advice from their professors to further develop their education and overall college experience.
This is true throughout the campus, as several renovations were completed over the course of the summer. UNO’s College of Business Administration, in particular, has provided its students with Mammel Hall – a three-story, 120,000-square-foot facility outfitted with a corporate-style boardroom, whiteboard areas for small-group collaboration, versatile classrooms, as well as high-tech laboratories for investment science, collaboration science, accounting, statistics and computing.
Also inside the $31 million, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified (LEED) infrastructure: a soon-to-be-furnished innovation and entrepreneurship laboratory (pictured left, photo by Andrea Ciurej) for students with a startup mind to collaborate their ideas for school projects or self-made ambitions with fellow peers and local businesses.
“There are a lot of institutions, a lot of business schools that are known for training people, educating people to go to work on Wall Street or go to work in big Fortune 500 companies,” said Louis Pol, dean of the College of Business Administration. “We have plenty of those students, but at our institution, we have a number of students also who are very much interested in entrepreneurship.”
UNO has been offering courses in small business management and entrepreneurship for more than 25 years, he said. Hundreds of students enroll in these courses each semester, but it wasn’t until this August that students along the entrepreneurial track were exposed to such a collaborative space where they can apply their learning to the drawing board.
Students map out an idea for UNO’s Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization. Photo by Andrea Ciurej.
“Our goal here is to have student ownership of the spaces,” Pol said. “The students have to take ownership of a lot of this and with ownership comes not only responsibility, but the joy of success and the ability to actually generate resources that can advance the program even more.”
Along with the addition of a laboratory, the college’s student-run business, Customize-A-Ball, also inherited a new functional space within the building. This business project, which is initiated through an entrepreneurship special topics course, was the only part of the innovation and entrepreneurship program to have a dedicated space at the college’s previous location, Roskens Hall.
The new space, however, not only provides students with more room to project non-distorted images onto rounded objects, such as a baseball or football, but it also allows for students to learn about other various aspects of the business, such as marketing and finance.
“[The students] are going to have to figure out a work flow for that space,” said Dale Eesley, assistant professor and director of the college’s center for innovation, entrepreneurship and franchising. “It’s a great challenge for the students to see, ‘Oh, there’s a lot of details for a small business that you have to take responsibility for.’”
Like the space provided within the building, the location of the Mammel Hall as a whole is just as ideal.
The college is surrounded by the likes of the Scott Technology Center (pictured left, photo from scott-technology.com), First Data Corp., Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska and the Peter Kiewit Institute, among other businesses.
“We’re right in the mix, not just of where business students are training, but where the people who often times develop the intellectual property for high-growth, potential businesses,” Eesley said. “We want them to walk through our building, to take shortcuts through it and stop in and see us.”
Eesley said this is only the beginning of making common space available for his program to thrive.
“The students are thirsty for it,” he said. “They’re very interested in getting to take the opportunity to take a business class where they have a chance to kind of go out there and apply it very directly to either their own passions or to local companies that could use their help or would allow them to come in and see how they are starting up.”
The growth of the college, let alone the enrichment of the innovation and entrepreneurship program, is still one of excitement as the building continues to build upon the interests of students in their respected fields.
“It’s hard to imagine a time when we’re not excited about this,” Pol said. “It’s about the programs that we see developing that are, in large part, a response to this new effort, this new location [and] this new building. It’s just been part of our DNA for a very long time.”
A few weeks ago, Silicon Prairie News sat down with Lou and Dale to further discuss the development of UNO’s innovation and entrepreneurship program, the ways students can utilize the new laboratory to pair up with peers and local businesses, as well as how the College of Business Administration plans to enrich entrepreneurship campuswide.