The intersection of business and science is one of the more readily apparent aspects of modern life, and the BEST Bootcamp addressed that juncture at Loyola Marymount University. In a week’s worth of concept development and competition that joined business, engineering, science, and technology – BEST – teams of students developed business ideas that utilized key technologies to deliver value to customers.
Twenty-one students from LMU College of Business Administration and LMU Frank R. College of Science and Engineering responded to an email invitation to take part in the bootcamp from May 8-15, 2023, that focused on how to launch a successful business incorporating science and technology, to network with industry professionals, and to visit local tech startups.
“It was a pleasure just working with the students through the week because they were so enthusiastic,” said Sunil Murthy, clinical associate professor of management in CBA. “The CBA and Seaver College students enjoyed networking with each other and found some new friends.”
The students particularly were interested in hearing from the co-founders of tech startups, especially those with LMU ties, Murthy said. They include Automotus, founded by Jordan Justus ’17 and Harris Lummis ’17, which seeks to build a new way for cities and airports to manage the rapid rise in commercial vehicle traffic and CO2 emissions, and Haven Project.
“I was so impressed by the result of the bootcamp and how students from both schools were dedicated to collaborating together to define a better value proposition of their solutions, understanding the market and building the prototype,” said Anna Farzindar, clinical professor of computer science and an artificial intelligence expert.
The students formed six teams to work on their projects. The top three teams, as chosen by judges Dean Dayle Smith of CBA, Dean Tina Choe of Seaver College, and David Choi, director of the Fred Kiesner Center for Entrepreneurship, were: Teams PulseLink, that pitched a bracelet for monitoring oxygen levels in patients with chronic diseases; Team Contextify, that pitched a solution for providing a context-specific definition using ChatGPT for web-based articles; and Team 3D, that pitched a body-scanning app to allow users to get better-fitting clothes from retail sites, reducing returns and lowering prices.
“In today’s tech-driven world, business colleges and engineering play crucial roles in driving innovation, economic growth, and societal development aligned with the mission of LMU for education of the whole person,” said Farzindar. “This boot camp provides an opportunity for complementary skill sets to our students for better innovation and problem-solving entrepreneurial abilities.”
Farzindar added that the bootcamp initiated the awareness of ethics of AI in business and limitations of those technologies. For example, the bootcamp discussed how to respect the privacy of customers in data collection, to be aware of biases in machine learning algorithms, and to address the poor definition of AI goals in rapid development environments that cause problems.