It’s not enough to excel in the business fundamentals if you plan to
launch a technical startup. You need to think like both an engineer and
an entrepreneur
. That’s why shared programs and courses with the
College of Engineering lie at the heart of our partnership.


Building Dream Teams for Innovation

At first glance, business and engineering students may seem as different as night and day. But look closer, and you’ll discover a shared passion for innovative problem-solving. Leeds School of Business’ new entrepreneurship course, New Venture Launch, taps into that quality by bringing students together to create forward-thinking business ventures. Leeds Associate Professor Jeffrey York designed the course as a cross-disciplinary, collaborative experience for business and engineering students. Funding from the Intuitive Foundation helped make it happen. The foundation facilitates synergies between future technologists and business leaders to bring disruptive technologies out of the lab and into the world.

In its first year, 41 students applied for the space-limited class. Only 14 graduate and undergraduate students were

accepted, including majors in Aerospace Engineering, Engineering and Education, Engineering and Design, Supply Chain Management and Business Administration.

The class culminated with student teams competing in CU Boulder’s annual New Venture Challenge (NVC)—a cross-disciplinary entrepreneurial event with up to $100K in prizes.

Top-performing teams from York’s class included EdBoard, who created educational circuitry kits for kids, and Elevated Eats, a sustainability-focused, healthy baked goods business. “While we’ve seen great success in this first class, I’m really excited about where we can take this experience in the future,” says York.


A Business Case for Working Together

It has been shown that diverse teams produce better solutions in the business world. So how do we, as a business school, help transform the future of business? We build those teams now.

The inaugural Phillips 66 Business and Engineering Diversity Case Competition, a first-of-its-kind program, invited diverse students from the business and engineering schools to solve a business case on social responsibility.

“The future workforce of business and engineering is a diverse workforce,” says Kristi Ryujin, associate dean of graduate programs at Leeds. “Bringing these students together to practice creating a solution is some of the most valuable experience they can have.” Five interdisciplinary teams compared how Phillips 66 and an aerospace corporation are working to meet the UN’s sustainable development goals.

Teams had 24 hours to research, brainstorm and present recommendations to faculty judges from both schools. A team of three business and two engineering students clinched first place—a prize of $1,500 for each student.

Students then determined which company had the best plan.

“The P66 Case Competition gave me exposure to . . . creating solutions to real-life business challenges with a team across different fields of learning, similar to the professional world,” says Javari McGill, a Leeds senior on the winning team.

Given Phillips 66’s past involvement with diversity programs at both schools, the partnership was a natural fit. The building expansion has already inspired hands-on learning, relationship building, dialogue and productive interactions across disciplines and the business community.

P66 Case Competition
Published: Oct. 14, 2020