Ogechi Chidebell says, “One thing the Student Startup Challenge did was open my eyes that I really could do something that would change the lives of people.”
Universities are known as places for learning, but they also are places for discovering new knowledge.
The University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee (UWM) focuses on doing both, involving students as well as community and business partners in the process.
The university’s 2014 Research Report, “Brilliance Begins with an Idea,” highlights the many ways this is happening.
Faculty member Anthony Ross, Rockwell Automation Endowed Chair in Supply Chain Management in the Lubar School of Business, is one of those featured.
His work is an example of how the university can work with businesses to research problems.
Anthony Ross with Osman Aydas, a doctoral student who is part of the research team
In this case, Rockwell Automation approached UWM researchers with questions about the design, quality and reliability of remanufactured products.
Remanufacturing is the process of reconditioning or repairing used products to restore them to sound working condition.
Together with a colleague from engineering, Wilkistar Otieno, Ross is looking at whether a specific product is worth being remanufactured.
UWM graduates also bring what they learn into their work in the community.
Celina Echeveste earned her master’s degree from UWM’s School of Education in 2012 and now teaches at Forest Home School.
At UWM, she focused her graduate-program research on non-Englishspeaking families and autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
As a result of the work she started at UWM, she has developed a handbook that covers the characteristics and warning signs of ASD, as well as school and community resources available in Spanish.
“Children in Spanishspeaking families and African American children tend to be diagnosed less often than others,” she says.
“Maybe they don’t have the resources, or they don’t understand what autism is.
I have a lot of parents come in and say they wish they had the resources earlier.”
One major effort involves getting students involved in becoming entrepreneurs.
For example, Ogechi Chidebell, a Lubar School of Business Executive MBA student from Nigeria, decided to develop a smartphone app called Agogo Network.
Named for a gong-like instrument used in ancient Nigeria to announce important events, the app is designed to boost small businesses in her home country by making listings and reviews available through smartphones.
The app was one of the winners in UWM’s Student Startup Challenge (SSC). The SSC helps students turn original product ideas into their own startup companies.
Winners receive financing, mentoring and help in developing a prototype. SSC taps the commercial potential of the rich ideas that present themselves in the course of earning a degree.
UWM also promotes diversity in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) through participation in the UW System’s Wisconsin Alliance for Minority Participation (WiscAMP) program.
Student Juan Orjuela, a UWM sophomore, is featured in the Research Report for the work he did studying frogs with Gerlinde Hoebel, assistant professor of biological sciences.
To find out more about UWM’s commitment to partnerships and research, you can view the annual Research Report online at www.researchreport.uwm.edu.