Wednesday, April 26, 2017

INNOVATION IMMERSION COURSE - Study Trip to Silicon Valley & Pacific Northwest in August

The innovation immersion course outlined below has been described as the following: “a phenomenal learning experience,” “lifetime experience,” and a “great networking opportunity.” Through this course, students have made contacts and gained information that has significantly facilitated their job development. 

The course will visit Portland, Seattle, and the Bay Area (San Jose, San Francisco, etc.). As a background, the study tour/course provides insights into how real-life companies have turned management strategies into sustained competitive advantages, as well as, an unprecedented opportunity to visit the innovation hotbeds of Silicon Valley and the Pacific Northwest.

Planned company visits include:
1) Nike: the world's largest supplier and manufacturer of athletic shoes and apparel;
2) Facebook: biggest social network on the planet;
3) Amazon: leading e-retailer in the United States. Earth's most customer-centric company, allowing people to find and discover virtually anything they want to buy online.
4) Netflix: world’s leading Internet television network with over 81 million members in over 190 countries
5) Google: world's most popular search engine and the most valuable brand;
6) Boeing: world's largest aerospace company and the leading manufacturer of both commercial jetliners and military aircrafts;
7) Electronic Arts: global leader in digital interactive entertainment;
8) Microsoft: largest provider of computer software and related services around the world;
9) Adidas: largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe and the second largest in the world;
10) Tesla: designer and manufacturer of the most advanced electric vehicles in the world;
11) Flextronics:  one of the world’s leading Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) providers with a network of facilities in 33 countries and over 230,000 employees.
12) Starbucks: world’s best-known coffee company.

Additional potential company visits include LinkedIn,, Intel, and Alaska Airlines.  Additionally, venture capital firms such as Greylock Partners are also possible.

The study tour will expose you to the infectious entrepreneurial spirit of Silicon Valley and the Pacific Northwest area, as well as, provide you with better insights into the thinking, strategies, and perspectives of some of the world’s top players. You will come away with newfound energy, inspiration, important business contacts and ideas to enhance your future career.

The course takes students behind the scenes to reveal the factors underlying the remarkable success of companies recognized for their innovation.  Regardless of whether you plan to go work for a large company or start your business, you can learn a great deal by looking at the characteristics that make these companies successful. These include the abilities to innovate, adapt and grow, which are all crucial to keeping your career progressing.

By immersing yourself in the world of forward-looking companies and influential imaginative thinkers, you are able to tap into their unique perspectives and experiences, internalize the principles that drive innovation success, and immediately apply these insights to your own career development.

Students hear from employees who are developing and executing innovative management strategies and tour their company's’ facilities. During these visits, students interact extensively with company representatives.

Participants are able to network with industry experts and are provided a valuable opportunity for direct exposure to companies that use innovation as a competitive advantage. The study tour provides you with unique insights, views into trends and developments, and multiple networking opportunities.  Past participants have achieved significant entrepreneurial success and some participants have also gone on to receive internships or job offers from a number of the host firms.

Study trips are very different from trips that you would take as a tourist. During the trip, students participate in activities closely integrated with course content. This includes visits to multinational and local companies, meetings with government officials and senior executives, meeting with UMD graduates, and excursions to important landmarks. These experiences provide differentiating traits that can be extremely useful when applying for internships or jobs throughout your college tenure.

Upon your return to campus, students are required to complete a range of class assignments including a final presentation, take home exam, and a course reflection. Once the students are selected for the course, we will identify a common set of meeting times.

Below are past comments from students completing the experience:

-- Choosing to participate on this trip was one of the best decisions I have made this year. Looking back on this great experience, I was given the opportunity to expand my understanding of innovation and the culture of entrepreneurship
-- I learned more in 10 days, than I have in most semesters.
-- I absolutely loved the trip. I gained so much knowledge that I have been trying to take back and apply to my life here. I have been reading and learning more about the Silicon Valley and its root.
-- The trip associated with this class was amazing. I'm so thankful Computer Science students were invited to take it.
-- What I learned on this trip could not have been replicated in a classroom setting. Visiting all the companies was a one-of-a-kind immersive learning experience. I have recommended this study trip to all my friends.
-- This course was a phenomenal experience. It allowed me to leave my comfort zone and see first hand what has allowed businesses to be so successful on the West Coast. We learn about companies competitive advantages, and through this course, I firmly believe these competitive advantages are formed because of the corporate culture that I was able to witness first- hand.
-- I learned more in one week than I do in some of my semester-long classes. Being exposed to companies first-hand like we were was a once in a lifetime opportunity that gave me extreme insight into why these companies are successful. It also gave me an opportunity to look more in depth to one of my favorite companies, which was fun and rewarding. This has been my favorite experience as a UMD student.
-- The study trip was a great opportunity for networking and seeing where UMD graduates have ended up in the business world. We got to visit great companies and it was great to have alumni give us tours and teach us about their roles in the company.
-- This course offered me a once in a lifetime experience to visit and meet with experienced employees in some of the top companies in the world. The combination of traditional assignments and real world experiences were well worth the extremely affordable cost of the trip
--  Really enjoyed this class and I think I learned more on the trip than I could have learned in any classroom. Hearing from the alumni was a great opportunity because I was able to see what Maryland students had accomplished with their degrees. Overall I would recommend any student I met to take this trip and experience this course.

The tentative start date is August 15th in Portland. The course will end August 23rd in the Bay Area. Students that have commitments starting August  24th (QUEST, orientation, etc.) will be able to take part in the trip. The program charge is estimated at $1,300-1,400 and includes hotel accommodations (3-4 per room), fees for all academic site visits, field trips, and other program-sponsored excursions, transportation to all visits, one or two meals per day (lunches or dinner), and course reading materials. This would be listed as a Fall 2017 course.  Airfare is not included and the estimated airfare is $350-500. 

Suggested flights will be provided later.

If you are interested in this course offering please send Dr. Mark Wellman an email ( expressing your interest. Provide a brief explanation outlining why you are interested.

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