Two Shepherd students will travel to Italy to participate in the July 9-28 European Innovation Academy (EIA). Brendan Jarrell, an environmental engineering student from Shepherdstown, and Daniel Nicholls, a data analytics student from Melbourne, Australia, say they are excited about the opportunity to participate in the academy, which will bring together business leaders and students from all over the world.
EIA is a nonprofit institution that promotes tech entrepreneurship education. EIA programs are jointly developed with partner universities from around the world and major companies. The EIA website says the organization immerses future entrepreneurs and business leaders in a multicultural ecosystem of more than 4,000 alumni and faculty from 75 different nationalities and has a goal of creating one million entrepreneurs by the year 2020.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to be with fellow students and people from around the world who are coming for the same purpose,” Jarrell said. “It’s such an awesome thing to be able to network and solidify myself in that community.”
Jarrell and Nicholls expect to be assigned to a team when they arrive at the Academy. The EIA website says each team will consist of a businessperson, marketer, software developer, designer, and one other person. Nicholls said the teams work with mentors who will guide them as they simulate a business startup where they will develop an idea and pitch it to investors.
“It’s a simulation, but we will be developing a real product,” Nicholls said. “The program has seen many actual products come out of it.”
Nicholls said the experience will give him a better understanding of how to get investors to buy into his ideas.
“No matter what field you are in, you will be dealing with people with money and you’ll want them to give that money to you,” Nicholls said. “It’s going to be a useful experience understanding both sides of the table.”
“We’re going to be working with some of the best in our field and just the idea of that is amazing,” Jarrell said. “To be able to talk to people from Microsoft and Google and gain their knowledge and apply it to our own work will be really cool.”
Reza Mirdamadi, chair of the Department of Computer Science, Mathematics, and Engineering, will attend EIA during the last week to assess what Nicholls and Jarrell have accomplished with a goal of bringing ideas back to Shepherd.
“We can not only learn from this but we can maybe simulate the whole thing here at Shepherd,” Mirdamadi said. “This is not just about mathematics, computer science, and engineering, it has a broader aspect to it so we are hoping students in other disciplines can participate.”
Mirdamadi said EIA will provide Nicholls and Jarrell experiences well beyond what they can get in the classroom.
“It’s not from a textbook, it’s not a homework assignment, it’s a real life problem that they have to figure out,” Mirdamadi said. “They’re going to be a team member and that’s another experience that doesn’t happen often in a classroom setting. There is nothing in this world that’s done by one person. It’s teamwork and working with other people to bring the product to the market.”