The Eller Times News.
Eller College of Management, The University of Arizona (logo). The Eller Times.

June 2005

Welcome to the The Eller Times, sharing highlights of news, events, people, and partners of the Eller College of Management.


In the News.

Entrepreneurship Team Wins $150,000 First Prize in Honeywell Growth Challenge

BOB automated car.
  Business strategies built on applications for the autonomous vehicle BOB (Brains on Board) helped the entrepreneurship team AutonomX win the $150,000 first prize in the Honeywell Growth Challenge.

Five students from the Eller College's McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, the brains behind AutonomX, are sharing $100,000 thanks to their vision for advancing the business of worldwide avionics manufacturer Honeywell. Additionally, Honeywell has awarded $50,000 to the McGuire program, bringing the UA team's total winnings to $150,000.

This is the second year Honeywell Aerospace University Growth Challenge has asked students from invited schools to present business plans for innovative growth opportunities built on Honeywell technologies. By blending science and business to meet a real market need, AutonomX beat out teams from across the United States, including stiff competition from finalists Arizona State University, Carnegie Mellon University, Purdue University, and UCLA.

AutonomX won the competition with a vision for partnering Honeywell aerospace technology and expertise—including GPS, software, electronics, and sensors—with proprietary optical technologies developed at the UA to create autonomous, remote-operated vehicles that can see and therefore operate more effectively and efficiently.

The AutonomX team.
The AutonomX team (left to right): Niranjan Kesani, Carlos Mendoza, John Goulding, Marisol Ramos, Warren Donian, and entrepreneurship program advisor Jim Jindrick.  

Multiple applications exist for the technology, and based on product knowledge and market knowledge, AutonomX identified agriculture market tasks such as moisture monitoring, spraying, and other precision farming applications as its primary target. While working on the Honeywell competition plan, AutonomX not only developed a working prototype of the autonomous vehicle, but also gained market traction by establishing critical contacts and partnerships prior to their presentation.

"This is an exciting and important milestone for both the AutonomX team and the McGuire Program," said Gary Libecap, director of the Karl Eller Center and McGuire Entrepreneurship Program. "It is about moving ideas to reality. These students have achieved this in both a corporate and true, new venture sense."

AutonomX team members include second-year MBA students Warren Donian, Carlos Mendoza, and Marisol Ramos; John Goulding, Ph.D. candidate from the UA College of Optical Sciences; and Niranjan Kesani, currently pursuing a masters in MIS. The team was coached by entrepreneurship faculty Jim Jindrick and Joann Rockwell. Other contributing UA advisors include the Eller College Brown Chair in Technology and Management Amar Gupta, and the Office of Technology Transfer's Stephen ONeil.

Tanniru Tapped to Lead IT Initiative

Dr. Mohan Tanniru.
MIS department head Mohan Tanniru has been named director of ACIST.  

The University of Arizona has tapped Eller expertise to advance information technology research and academics, naming Mohan Tanniru, head of the Eller College MIS Department, as director of the Arizona Center for Information Science and Technology (ACIST). ACIST unites five UA colleges in a shared vision for “innovative research that connects to the success of businesses and the economic development of the state,” Tanniru explained.

Richard C. Powell, UA vice president for research, graduate studies, and economic development, made the announcement, stating confidence in Tanniru’s “distinguished record of accomplishment” and his talent for developing university-industry collaborations.

Formerly known as the Internet Technology Design and Commerce Institute, ACIST was established by the UA in 2001. The Center represents a significant investment of the Technology Research Initiative Fund (TRIF) that resulted from the November 2000 passage of Proposition 301 and its education-focused increase in Arizona sales tax. The group combines talent from the College of Engineering, Eller College of Management, College of Science, College of Fine Arts, and College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

“I am honored to work with an outstanding ACIST management team, business advisory board, and renowned faculty who are experts in information technology research,” Tanniru said. “Working together, we will pursue leading-edge research that impacts the economy and the capabilities of its workforce.”

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Eller Presents.

Students with Randy Accetta.
  Students with Randy Accetta (second from right), one of the Undergraduate Faculty Members of the Year.

Recognizing a “Constellation
of Talent”

The J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort provided the backdrop for “A Night with the Stars,” in May, the annual awards program of Eller Undergraduate Programs.

Pulte Homes served as the premier sponsor for the event, which recognized outstanding students, faculty, and advisors from throughout the College.

Award winner Rebecca Vassallo with associate dean Pam Perry.
Associate dean of undergraduate programs Pam Perry with Rebecca Vassallo (right), recipient of the William B. Barrett Award.  

Arguably the evening’s most prestigious honor, the Arizona Foundation Outstanding Senior award, was presented to Elaine Bilby. Bilby was recognized for her stellar accomplishments in the hallmarks of the Eller experience: academics, leadership, and community involvement.

Raghu Nandan (Business Management ’02) was recognized with the Excellence in Service alumni award and Gilbert Davidson (Public Management and Human Resource Management ’98, MPA ’04), city manager of Willcox, Ariz., was honored as the Outstanding Recent Alumnus. The Eller College Associate of the Year award recognized Robert D. Ramirez (Accounting ’76).

Don Seeley and Elaine Bilby.
  Arizona Foundation Outstanding Senior Elaine Bilby with finance adjunct lecturer Don Seeley.

Some of the top student honors went to business economics major Rebecca Vassallo (William B. Barrett Award for academic accomplishment and service to fellow students) and MIS, operations management, and entrepreneurship major Aaron McKenny (Robie Medal for well-rounded contributions and leadership in community, academic and extracurricular activities).

Top faculty award recipients included marketing adjunct instructor Vic Piscitello (Don Wells Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award and Undergraduate Faculty of the Year), business communications adjunct instructor Randy Accetta (Undergraduate Faculty of the Year), and management and policy associate professor Lisa Ordóñez (Tom Moses Outstanding Student Organization Advisor Award).

Full list of award recipients  >>

Entrepreneurship Honors Eller Technology Transfer Fellows

Vicki L. Chandler.
  BIO5 director and plant sciences professor Vicki L. Chandler was named an Eller Technology Transfer Fellow.

The McGuire Entrepreneurship Program’s annual Business Plans Competition Finals honored a new class of fellows in April. The first-ever Eller Technology Transfer Fellows program was created to honor individuals who have contributed to Arizona’s economy by taking to the private sector new concepts, products, or services developed within The University of Arizona.

Vicki L. Chandler and Don Piper were awarded the inaugural fellowships. Chandler, plant sciences professor in the UA’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, serves as director of the BIO5 Institute for Collaborative Research, which fosters knowledge-based partnerships for treating disease, feeding humanity, and preserving livable environments.

Award winners with associate dean Pam Perry.
Karl Eller Center director Gary Libecap, left, presents fellowship plaque to Don Piper.  

Piper, associate director of professional development for the Eller MBA program, works to create opportunities for MBA students to learn through direct involvement in moving new ideas to the marketplace.

Both fellows will serve as advisors to faculty, staff, and students involved in new venture creation and business planning through the entrepreneurship program.

More information on 2005 entrepreneurship honorees, including hall of fame inductees, mentors, scholars, and other fellows  >>

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Ensuring the Future.

Learning Technologies Boosted with $74,000 HP Grant

PC tablets, rotating laptops, and related equipment.
  Part of the $74,000 HP grant will bring versatile tablet PCs to Eller College undergraduates.

HP awarded the Eller College of Management a $74,000 grant in April as part of its Technology for Teaching program. The grant combines HP products and a faculty stipend for transforming and improving learning through technology.

In part, the grant will give Eller the opportunity to pilot a laptop/tablet PC initiative, part of a multifaceted learning technologies plan unfolding within the College’s Undergraduate Programs. The grant will also help integrate mobile technologies throughout the learning environment.

The grant will also help integrate mobile technologies throughout the learning environment.

“Teams will engage in cross-curricular projects with Web conferencing, large classes will offer blended learning, and students will be enabled to work anywhere on campus,” said Veronica Diaz, Eller College learning technologies manager.

“We are privileged to be the only school in Arizona to benefit from HP’s Technology for Teaching grant program,” added Pam Perry, associate dean of Undergraduate Programs. “This is one more actionable step we are taking to make an Eller education relevant and rigorous.”

The 2005 HP Technology for Teaching grant program awarded $8.5 million to 174 schools in the United States and Puerto Rico, including elementary, secondary, and high schools. The Eller College was one of 31 colleges, as well as the only school in Arizona, to receive a 2005 grant.

New Scholarship for Executive MBA Students

UA's McClelland Hall.

Recognizing the financial constraints that many non-profit and public-sector organizations face, the Eller College has created the Community Leadership Scholarship to encourage higher-level management education for professionals in these areas.

Initially, the scholarship will fully fund one participant’s tuition for the new Eller EMBA, Arizona’s only 14-month Executive MBA (EMBA) program, launching this fall.

With a focus on advanced topics in business and leadership, the Eller EMBA has been designed for accomplished managers, conferring a full MBA degree with classes meeting only Fridays and Saturdays, every other weekend.

The Community Leadership Scholarship is valued at $40,000 and includes hotel accommodations, catered meals, and all curricular costs of the Eller EMBA program. Applicants must meet all Eller EMBA admissions requirements and identify themselves as public-sector employees on application materials.

Learn more about the new 14-month Eller Executive MBA  >>

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Eller's Finest.

Fishback Brings Economics Expertise to TIAA-CREF

Price Fishback.
  Kramer Professor of Economics Price Fishback has been named to the TIAA-CREF Institute Fellows Program.

Price Fishback, Kramer Professor of Economics, has been named to the new TIAA-CREF Institute Fellows Program established this spring.

The distinguished group includes some 50 prominent scholars from throughout the United States who contribute expertise in matters that impact the intersection of higher education and lifelong financial security.

Herb Allison, chief executive of TIAA-CREF, described the group as “individuals who have demonstrated thought leadership on issues important to TIAA-CREF, the 15,000 institutions we serve, and the more than three million individuals who entrust their financial well-being to us.”

The TIAA-CREF Institute was created to strengthen and broaden TIAA-CREF’s intellectual leadership in financial security. Fellows will contribute to this goal through research, providing expert commentary, participating in forums, and similar functions.

In April, Fishback was also invited to present research to congressional staffers at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center. The talk explored president Roosevelt’s New Deal, comparing social security reforms of the late 1930s to modern social welfare programs. Fishback is currently in Japan, lecturing at the prestigious Keio University in Tokyo.

Entrepreneurship Shines at MOOT CORP Competition

The Whole Loan Trader team.
Whole Loan Traders (from left to right): Arsen Ovanessoff, Nathan Taube, Neel Chakraborti, Larry Owen.  

The McGuire Entrepreneurship Program continued a record of excellence in the 2004-2005 academic year with a strong performance at the MOOT CORP competition in May, which brought together 39 entrepreneurship teams from top universities around the world.

The Whole Loan Trader venture team earned distinctions for Best Written Plan, Best Presentation, and Honorable Mention within its division, offering a plan for revolutionizing the business of trading whole loans—mortgages pooled and traded to private investors. The vision includes a proprietary online solution that consolidates individual mortgages and whole loans to create and leverage market influence.

The MOOT CORP Competition, held each year at the McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin, is the oldest and largest new venture competition in the world and is widely considered to be the premier competition in graduate-level entrepreneurship. Competitors are generally mature ventures in the revenue-earning stage, making the performance of Whole Loan Trader, a planning-stage venture, particularly noteworthy. The University of Arizona is one of few programs around the world that is automatically invited to participate each year.

Whole Loan Trader's honors at MOOT CORP rounded out a year of excellence for entrepreneurship. As mentioned in the lead story, the AutonomX team won first-place in the Honeywell Aerospace University Growth Challenge in May. Earlier in the year, the team took third place at the Spirit of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development (S.E.E.D.) Collegiate Business Plan Competition. Another entrepreneurship team, BTO Auction Technologies, won third place at the Enterprise Creation Competition in April.

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Alumni Spotlight.

Getting Down to Business in Bolivia
David Martinez, Business Management and Entrepreneurship ’04

David Martinez.
  David Martinez is currently serving in the U.S. Peace Corps in Bolivia.

David Martinez doesn’t just think about making a difference, he does it. As one of the founders of Eller College Philanthropy, he remembers the program’s December 2002 debut—when students and others joined together for community service—as one of the best moments of his Eller experience: “Kevin Kundinger and I had been working on the project since February, and when we stood in the College's Estes Atrium that winter day with several hundred fellow students, professors, and friends, every ounce of our effort was worth it. Of all the lessons that day, the biggest was that the reward of leadership is seeing those you work with outshine your best expectations.”

Today, David is putting that leadership to work for the U.S. Peace Corps, doing micro-enterprise development in the small rural town of Icla, Bolivia, working on two projects: 1) teaching computer courses to poor rural students and developing a curriculum for future teachers, and 2) working with the town’s mayor to develop sustainable income for local workers.

After turning down a job offer from the CIA and then working at General Mills, David said he chose to join the Peace Corps for the chance to “help those who don’t have a voice” while also benefiting from “a great cross-cultural experience and an opportunity to serve my country.” In micro-enterprise development, he’s found an excellent application of his Eller education. “Eller showed me what the pros and cons of business are—not just the upsides, but the real risks and consequences of attempting to create an enterprise,” David said. “I experienced a pragmatic, hands-on education, especially within the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, a claim most schools will make but few can truly offer.”

General Mills Gets a Taste of Eller
Marisa Lucas, Marketing ‘04

Marisa Lucas.
  Marisa Lucas is a sales business management associate with General Mills in Minneapolis.

Marisa Lucas is whipped up about chocolate, lately. But it’s not just a personal passion. Her excitement is decidedly professional.

As a first-year sales business management associate with General Mills in Minneapolis, Marisa helps funnel information from General Mills headquarters to accounts in the Midwest, ensuring that promotions are in-line with HQ priorities. Specifically, Marisa works with 8th Continent soymilk and the brand that, for Americans, is synonymous with yogurt: Yoplait. Therein lies her excitement.

“We are super excited about new Yoplait Chocolate Whips coming out this month!” Marisa said. “This new-to-the-world product is the result of 10 years of research and testing—Yoplait is the first-to-market with a chocolate-flavored yogurt.”

Marisa’s role in introducing Yoplait Chocolate Whips is a key one, rallying account teams around early-ship opportunities to maximize sales volume and, as she puts it, “more importantly, get the yummy, chocolaty goodness on the shelves ASAP for consumers to enjoy!”

It’s just that kind of enthusiasm that Marisa sees as a competitive advantage of Eller graduates. “The Midwest may have its 'Big 10' and the East has the Ivy League schools, but Eller College students have an edge over all of these students: We are personable and have a warmth that makes us stand out in corporate America,” Marisa explained. “Maintaining a positive, team-oriented attitude and a genuine likeability will make you stand head and shoulders above other young professionals.”

When she’s not hard at work, Marisa is making the most of her new locale. “Life in Minneapolis has been great!” she said. “It is an awesome city with a ton of things to do in your spare time. I recently purchased my first bicycle—a red beach cruiser, very California. Minnesotans have never seen such a thing, but I'm teaching them a thing or two about the style out West!”

With her irrepressible Eller style, we’d say that’s true!

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In the News.
Eller Presents.
  Ensuring the Future.  
  Eller's Finest.  
  Alumni Spotlight.