SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNE) announced that Chicopee-based U.S. Tsubaki Automotive (USTA) made a gift of $12,500 to support the university’s colleges of Business and Engineering’s Product Development and Innovation (PDI) course over the next five years.
“U.S. Tsubaki is pleased to work with Western New England University to advance this important program and curriculum,” said Dan Butterfield, president of USTA. “We value innovation and seek to assist in the development of future business and engineering students. We look forward to many years of innovations with this course and Western New England University.”
Taught in the fall semester, PDI is comprised of business and engineering students who develop an idea at the onset of class and grow the concept into a limited, functional prototype supported by a business plan.
“The PDI course is a capstone course, which is a culmination of the core courses offered to business students,” said Sharianne Walker, dean of the WNE College of Business. “The cross-functional teams and development of innovations are critical to developing entrepreneurial thinking that will guide our students in their future careers.”
Student teams demonstrate their project innovations at the annual PDI Showcase held the first week of December. Attending the event are members of the university’s board of trustees and several area economic-development leaders and investors. The attendees invest ‘Golden Bear investment dollars’ into the innovations they believe have the most commercial potential. Some of the innovations continue as senior design projects, while others compete in the Grinspoon Spirit Awards and the Draper Competition. The university patents select innovations that have the most potential.
“This grant is foundational to our prototyping efforts and helps teach the students about how to innovate efficiently,” said Hossein Cheraghi, dean of the WNE College of Engineering. “We are pleased that U.S. Tsubaki, who is an important community business, values innovation and nurturing student talent from Western New England University and the College of Engineering.”