The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology — commonly referred to as M&T — held its second annual summit on Saturday. Students heard from investors and entrepreneurs, interacted with program alumni, and saw presentations of senior student design projects.
This year's summit focused on "disruptive technologies" that cause changes in the market, such as cryptocurrencies and cloud computing. Seniors in M&T presented their design projects to a panel of alumni judges in competing for a $2,000 prize.
M&T Director of Integration Sangeeta Vohra, who organized the summit, said while last year's summit focused on healthcare, this year's topic was specifically chosen to be more broad in scope.
“[Last year] some of our really amazing [senior design] projects were not in the healthcare theme so we couldn’t include them,” Vohra said, adding that "disruptive technologies" was chosen because many M&T seniors did projects in this area.
Vohra said the summit aims to integrate the program's engineering and business components.
“It’s great to build up amazing things, which is the engineering aspect,” Vohra said, “But I think our students should also be thinking of why they’re building it, who the customer is, who are the stakeholders, and so it becomes a more complete project.”
The summit is designed to bring together M&T students, faculty, and alumni, giving current students an opportunity to learn from and network with alumni.
“M&T is not only a program, it’s also a network,” M&T Director Gad Allon said. “We have an opportunity here for our students to present to people that can take these ideas, connect them with the right people, and maybe help them launch those ideas.”
This year's summit included a new component called “Structured Speed Networking" where students could ask alumni questions about their career paths.
The summit kicked off with a moderated conversation between Engineering Dean Vijay Kumar and 1996 M&T graduate Jeff Fluhr, the co-founder of StubHub, Craft Ventures, and other companies. This was followed by a panel discussion featuring other M&T alumni which focused on the challenges of scaling companies to larger markets. Throughout the discussion, students and alumni in the audience asked questions about the panelists’ experiences and accomplishments.
M&T seniors, who have to complete a business analysis plan on top of the Engineering project requirement, then showcased their senior design projects to the judges. The projects, which were finalists chosen from a previous round of judging, included a smart platform for sampling and measuring river pollution, a stethoscope chip to collect heartbeat data, and a new medical transport vehicle designed for rural communities.
The first-place award was given to Aerate, an evaporative cooling air conditioner that is five times more efficient than existing air conditioners. The second-place award went to IV Sight, a set of thermal and kinetic sensors to detect IV infiltration in children.
“I think that every time that others can evaluate our [work], and we put it out there and receive questions, it makes our understanding of our own ideas stronger,” Aerate team member and Wharton and Engineering senior Ashwin Kishen said. “It’s important to have things picked apart and evaluated by people outside [your] own group.”
Current students and alumni praised the summit for bringing M&T people together and showcasing the intersection between its engineering and business aspects.
“It’s interesting to see how we can leverage the alumni community and understand how engineering and business can integrate so well together,” Wharton and Engineering freshman Robin Tan said. “To see how after four years of culminating M&T experience, how [the seniors] integrate engineering with marketing and business, I think that’s going to give me a sense of what M&T is really for.”
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