Working together

Let’s face it, a whole lot of college students major in liberal arts because they’re not fond of math. Likewise, plenty of science students aren’t excited about the humanities or business.

There’s nothing wrong with pursuing your passions and playing to your strengths. But in trying to establish a career and make a living, sometimes the difference between success and failure is knowing when you don’t have all the answers — and being able to find them.

Over the years, UNLV’s graduating engineering students have displayed a great deal of innovation in their senior design competitions. But as the Review-Journal’s Richard Lake reported Monday, their work conceiving and building products that solve problems has not led to a single commercial splash.

So the deans of the College of Engineering and the College of Business decided some introductions were in order.

Teams of engineering seniors were partnered with business students to take the products to the next step: the marketplace.

Students Baldomero Corona, Siul Ruiz and Francisco Sermeno had created a moving dolly that can lift 300 pounds up to 3 feet off the ground. And they weren’t sure about taking on more partners.

“They said we could make $23 million after five years,” Mr. Corona said of the UNLV business students. “We thought we’d be able to sell 20 of these and make our money back.”

Other projects that have UNLV engineering and business students working together involve wastewater management, rifle magazines and solar-powered water purification.

Higher education is supposed to prepare undergraduates for the real world by developing the skills that drive the economy. Students who remain largely within a single discipline, inside their comfort zone and away from their perceived academic weaknesses, don’t get the diverse education that can unlock their greatest potential.

Bravo to Rama Venkat, interim dean of UNLV’s College of Engineering, and Paul Jarley, dean of UNLV’s College of Business. Their collaboration is a model for the kind of academic partnerships that can take big ideas and make them big successes.

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