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KGI’s Team Master’s Project Piques Japanese Interest

As part of a multi-university tour, 18 members of a Japanese delegation, representing 13 Japanese universities and two government officials from the Japanese Ministry for Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), visited Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) on Wednesday, March 8.

MEXT, one of the ministries of the Japanese government, is led by Hirokazu Matsuno, the minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology. A member of the Japanese cabinet, the minister of MEXT is chosen by the prime minister, typically from the members of the Diet, Japan’s bicameral legislature.

The representatives of these universities and MEXT have been involved in a Japan-wide initiative called Enhancing Development of the Global Entrepreneur (EDGE), to learn best practices on how to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in their country.

EDGE was designed to develop Japan’s innovation network throughout collaborative activities for students and the workforce.

According to Dr. Kenneth Gruys, professor of practice and program director of the Team Master’s Project (TMP), “This visit to UCSD and UCR, and now KGI, is a follow up to EDGE, in that the EDGE funding will soon end, and they’re exploring what’s next. “

EDGE is a three-year program (currently 2014 to 2017) funded by MEXT; funding is expected to renew in April 2017 for three additional years.

Members of the delegation were interested in learning different approaches to education and were impressed with the KGI model, which strives to achieve some of the goals of MEXT.

The delegation’s visit was a follow up to a November 2016 KGI campus visit with Yuki Nagano, program coordinator from UC Riverside’s EDGE counterpart, and Rosibel Ochoa, UCR vice chancellor.

Gruys coordinated the delegation visit and also directs KGI’s Team Master’s Project (TMP), the capstone project for the Master of Business and Science degree at KGI.

The delegation guests arrived at KGI after a full morning’s session and lunch at UCR. Exiting their bus, some with rolling luggage, they filed upstairs to KGI’s new executive boardroom in the Claremont Village. KGI President Sheldon Schuster welcomed the guests and provided an overview of KGI.

“Entrepreneurship and collaboration are two of KGI’s core values—key to the ongoing success of KGI students, now and in their professional lives,” Schuster said.

The delegation was most interested in learning about KGI’s TMP and heard about different aspects of the program from a number of KGI faculty, staff, and students. In addition, the guests were given a tour of KGI’s TMP collaboration spaces and training room.

The TMP embodies the goals of EDGE, allowing students to be innovative and practice entrepreneurship while making connections with industry leaders and each other and actively solving real-world problems.

The TMP works like this: teams of three to six students are assigned to work with a sponsoring company to solve a real problem. The project includes both business and technical aspects; for example, students may be asked to validate a new technology and to develop a strategy for market penetration of that technology.

Instead of being assigned by teachers, the actual deliverables for each TMP are negotiated by the student team and the company liaison.

Students are expected to expend significant effort, and about one-third of their time, on the projects. Students present progress reports to their professors and peers at least once per semester in addition to providing a report to the sponsoring company at the end of the first semester.

A public, non-confidential presentation of all TMP projects occurs during the spring in a poster presentation. In addition, teams are available to make confidential presentations of their work at the sponsoring companies’ sites. The final comprehensive report is due to the faculty advisor in draft form, and a copy is forwarded to the sponsoring company.

The TMP is designed to connect students with industry; it allows them to innovate to solve real-world problems and helps students discover what inspires them, igniting and driving their spirit of entrepreneurship.