Thanks to a generous alumni donation, Acadia University business students now have a concrete way to learn about disruptive innovation. The F.C. Manning School of Business is one of a handful of undergraduate business schools in North America to adopt 3D printers into its curriculum. The printers are being used to stimulate class discussion and faculty research about innovation and industrial change. Meanwhile, entrepreneurial students have been using the printers to create prototypes and small batches of new products that they can bring to market.
Preparing for a Life of Exploration
Professor Ryan MacNeil has incorporated the School’s current trio of 3D printers into his third-year course on Entrepreneurship & Innovation (BUSI 3773). “At the beginning of each semester, we spend a full class printing several personalized items for lucky students in the room,” MacNeil says. “While the printers are running, students break into small groups to discuss the opportunities these technologies might present and the existing industries they might disrupt.” The goal, MacNeil explains, is to prepare Acadia students for a life-time of exploring and exploiting new disruptive innovations.
Small Business Creation
Several students have been quick to jump on 3D printing. One team used the printers last fall to manufacture and sell ergonomic grocery bag handles as a class project. Austin Bukovec, a 3rd-year entrepreneurship and innovation major, recently developed a small business on campus selling custom-order iPhone cases. And the Acadia ENACTUS team is currently developing a social enterprise that would recapture material from waste plastics (like disposable water bottles) for use in the 3D printers.
Collaborative Maker Space
Plans are also underway to rapidly expand Acadia’s capacity for projects like these. Dr. Terrance Weatherbee, Professor and F.C. Manning Research Chair, has been leading an initiative to build STEAMspace, a “makerspace” for the Acadia community. Makerspaces are collaborative facilities where people can access a range of tools and technologies to create practically anything. STEAMspace is the first proposed community-university makerspace east of Montréal.
About the Manning School
Founded in 1957, the Manning School at Acadia University is home to over 600 students from over 20 countries. With 23 faculty members from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds, the Manning School offers small classes that encourage concentrated interaction between students and faculty. Our students have opportunities to learn outside the classroom through co-op placements, projects with local enterprises, and international exchanges. Firmly rooted in a rich institutional legacy that personifies the very essence of a liberal education, the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) program at Acadia is challenging and flexible, allowing students to explore a broad range of interests and producing well-rounded graduates who are well-positioned to pursue varied professional opportunities. As testimony, our graduates work in leadership roles across Canada and around the globe, with many having made their Acadia BBA degree a pathway to prestigious graduate programs.