Purdue Entrepreneurship Alumni Encourage Capstone Students to Make “Giant Leaps”

Alumni Panel

Lauren Rourk

Lauren Rourk, a 2017 College of Engineering and Entrepreneurship Certificate Alumna speaks about Entrepreneurship and Space Exploration as part of a Spotlight Entrepreneurship Alumni Panel on February 12th. (Purdue University/Mark Simons)

On Tuesday, February 12th, over 100 Purdue Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation capstone students gathered to hear from five Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation alumni who are making “Giant Leaps” in their respective fields. These alumni represented the four areas that are the foundation of the Ideas Festival and Purdue’s 150th Anniversary Celebration: Artificial Intelligence, Sustainable Economy & Planet, Health & Longevity and Space Exploration.

Speaking about Artificial Intelligence and Automation were Adit Chhabra, a 2010 Krannert School of Management graduate and his brother Siddharth Chhabra, a 2013 Industrial Engineering graduate from the College of Engineering. Adit is the Founder and CEO of Wobot Intelligence, a software company aiming to transform business processes by eliminating human bias through vision computing. Siddharth is a Senior Manufacturing Engineer at Tesla where he manages engineering projects for future model cars from design to full launch. Both Adit and Siddharth encouraged current students to focus first on problems that need to be solved. “Be in love with your problem and that is how you will find the right solution,” said Adit. Siddharth encouraged students to consider how to “balance automation and humanity” by recognizing that there are some tasks that humans can do much better than robots.

Mayura Davda-Shah, a 2013 College of Engineering alumna with a degree in Mechanical Engineering addressed the topic of sustainability. Mayura recently launched a sustainable luxury lifestyle brand called MAYU and works with the Precision Foundation in India that creates a positive social impact on local education and communities in the area. Mayura discussed her company’s focus on creating luxury goods that are not harmful to the planet. Mayura explained “The fashion industry is worth about 2.5 trillion dollars and is the second largest polluter in the world.” She challenged students to think of how they can change this through their own choices and behaviors, while remaining “fiercely authentic” to who they are.

Francisco Portela, a 2014 alumnus from the College of Health and Human Sciences School of Nursing spoke to students about trends associated with Health and Longevity. Francisco is the Director of Clinical Consulting at Predicata and a Board Member for the Rhode Island Department of Health. In 2015, he founded Portela Soni Medical, a company that developed a new urinary catheter. Francisco discussed the complexity of living longer with the growing costs of medical equipment and care.

Finally, students learned about trends and entrepreneurial opportunities associated with Space Exploration from Lauren Rourk, a 2017 College of Engineering alumna with a degree in Industrial Engineering. Lauren works at Northrop Grumman in the Innovation Systems Sector where she supports Classified Advanced Composites Development in the Strike Division. She discussed many issues challenging Space Exploration, including the commercialization of space and space traffic, and the littering of space with satellites, of which 75% are not functioning.

The Giant Leaps Entrepreneurship Alumni Panel was hosted by Purdue’s Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, which is one of the largest multidisciplinary entrepreneurship programs in the country and serves over 1,800 students across campus each year.

The panel was moderated by Dr. Nathalie Duval-Couetil, Professor & Director of the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program. She shared, “We are excited to bring back our young alums who are demonstrating what it means to take “Giant Leaps” in their respective fields. They are involved in addressing important business and societal challenges. This type of event and interaction with alums inspires and challenges our current Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation students to think about how they can use their Purdue education to make a difference in the world.”

At the start of the event, special guest, Dr. Christine Ladisch, Dean Emerita and Professor, College of Health and Human Sciences and Co-chair of the 150th Anniversary Ideas Festival, presented an overview of the 150th Anniversary and the premise behind the Ideas Festival.

The Giant Leaps ENTR Alumni panel was a featured event for the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, as February is the program’s 150th Anniversary Spotlight month, along with the College of Engineering.