SHU biz students seek corporate partners for projects


FAIRFIELD — Launched in January through the college’s John F. Welch College of Business, the Sacred Heart University (SHU) Problem-Based Learning Lab (PBL) is now working with regional clients and is  seeking corporate and community partners to submit potential projects for fall 2014 and beyond.


The interdisciplinary, experiential learning program is designed to expose students to real business problems. It targets community organizations and businesses looking to address growth and marketing opportunities, enhance or influence public perception, develop new business models and implement innovative action plans.


Student work typically includes market studies, examining current business models and recommending new strategies for product development and future direction. The PBL teams function similarly to an internal consulting group and are already working with several organizations focused on various challenges and audiences.


The group’s inaugural project for the city of Bridgeport involves an economic-impact study of city facilities and events on the local economy. SHU Assistant Dean and Assistant Professor of Finance Kwamie Dunbar says the study will afford city officials metrics on job creation and enable them to examine tourism revenues and local business activities that will be used in its marketing campaigns and as economic updates to media outlets.


The lab’s process model, Dunbar explains, involves organizing internal teams for each assignment, conducting client-directed research and meetings, reviewing options, formulating strategic potential solutions and then working with the client to communicate plans. Student candidates are screened and interviewed in a competitive process to determine qualifications and interest, and then are assigned to teams. As projects are identified, the PBL team seeks out subject matter experts from corporations in the area, SHU alumni and business-school networks.


“We’re always looking for ways to bring real-world practice into the classroom and to connect the theoretical and practical through guided, interactive, hands-on learning,” says Dunbar. “This effort mutually benefits our students and the local business community by providing high-quality business solutions to some of today’s complex business problems.”


Scott Gaffney and Maggie McCabe are two SHU students participating on PBL teams. Both believe the practical experience and opportunity to work with real companies outside the classroom has proven invaluable.


More information about the PBL program may be found at