Engineering an Entrepreneurial Future
November 7, 2013
Mayura Davda (BS ’13, mechanical engineering) grew up in India watching her father build and grow his own company. She saw the thrill he experienced in the process and wanted to feel the same way. As a manufacturing engineer with Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. and inventor of a device to help wheelchair users navigate curbs, she’s now on her way.
Davda took her first steps towards entrepreneurship at age 14, when she turned her hobby of jewelry and metal flower making into an enterprise, selling her handcrafts at art exhibits and to a local florist shop. When it came time to apply to Purdue to study mechanical engineering, the Entrepreneurship Learning Community, a residential option for freshmen with an interest in innovation, was a perfect fit.
Davda’s mechanical engineering capstone project, a design for a wheelchair that can navigate curbs, was a perfect marriage of her major and certificate curriculum. Chair Up!, a mechanically driven device that attaches to wheelchairs and helps users safely and independently maneuver over raised obstacles like curbs and door thresholds, is in the patent application process. She hopes to make it available to populations in areas with limited financial resources.
“Entrepreneurship is basically solving problems for others. The products or services that an entrepreneur creates act as solutions to problems that the customer faces on a day-to-day basis. In a way, engineers play a similar role. And that’s how these two programs complemented each other in my case. Having the basic understanding of how businesses develop, thrive and grow, in addition to the technical core of engineering is very valuable to me,” Davda says.
After graduating from Purdue in May, Davda furthered her business education at the Summer Institute of General Management at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. She says her courses in entrepreneurship prepared her well for the intense classes.
“I was familiar with some of the terms and concepts used in those classes, as I had learned them in my entrepreneurship classes at Purdue,” she says. “I was able to easily grasp and understand some of the topics taught at Stanford, compared to some of my peers who came straight from an engineering background.”
Now employed as a manufacturing engineer at Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation,Davda is working on two business projects in her spare time and would like to explore opportunities for new products and services in the aerospace field. She hopes to start a company that creates jobs in her hometown in India, and is especially interested in empowering women to become entrepreneurs. The education she gained in entrepreneurship and innovation will help her realize that goal.
“If I simply had a brilliant idea and a functional prototype that could impact a million lives and did not know how to reach out and actually make that difference, it would be useless. But if I also had the understanding of how to write a business plan, get funding, create financial statements, persuade investors to support my entrepreneurial venture, understand legal, regulatory, and ethical issues, process of recruiting a new venture team and lastly how to deliver persuasive presentations, my idea would most likely succeed,” Davda says. “Making a difference and scaling your impact on society is what entrepreneurship is all about and a special thanks to Rita Baker, Nathalie Duval-Couetil, Hank Feeser and Chris McEvoy, as I would not have been able to do any of this without them or Purdue University.”
- Jeanette Greener
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