College of Business

MBA Students Tour Verizon Innovation Lab


MBA student Zak Stroing tests out the Virtual Reality glasses being developed by Verizon and its partners.

In December, a group of 25 California State University, Chico Masters of Business Administration (MBA) students spent the day at the Verizon Innovation Center on Spear Street in San Francisco. A chartered bus left on an early Chico morning to allow for a full day of meetings, presentations, and demonstrations with the Verizon Innovation team.

The corporate tour was linked with the MBA course “Management of Creativity and Innovation,” taught by business management professor Mitch Casselman, which was created to focus on design-thinking and creative problem-solving in the business environment. The visit to the Verizon Innovation Center was a perfect culmination of the course by providing students with a hands-on experience with fantastic innovations under development.

The trip was arranged by Tom Villa, a CSU, Chico College of Business board member and previous high-level executive with Verizon. Professors Mitch Casselman and Matt Meuter, professor of marketing and MBA director, went to San Francisco with the students.

MBA students place their hands on a "Smart Vest" medical device currently in development at the Verizon Innovation Lab in San Francisco.

MBA students Amber Butcher (front, right) and Jiyue “Tracy” Qiu (back, right) learn about the “Smart Vest,” which is a medical device currently in development. The Smart Vest vibrates, increasing circulation and helping the lungs release phlegm or other blockages from the lungs.

“The opportunity to visit a world-class demonstration center of the latest research and development from Verizon was amazing,” said Casselman. “It was very rewarding to hear the Verizon speakers talking about the same practical approaches to innovation that we were studying in the class. That linkage shows the students the value of their learning and personally gave me confidence that the trajectory of the program is evolving with the latest industry practice.”

In addition to the nine students enrolled in the “Management and Creativity of Innovation” class, 16 other MBA students joined the trip to engage with Verizon and see these innovations in action. Meuter is excited about these types of experiences for Chico MBA students.

“In the turbulent and very dynamic business environment we see today,” explained Meuter, “The CSU, Chico MBA program tries to incorporate these types of hands-on activities for our students. Getting connected with industry leaders and learning about innovations in the marketplace will serve our MBA students well in their professional careers.”

MBA students have also recently taken trips to the Tesla Manufacturing facility, toured Enloe Hospital, among others.

MBA students take a group photo in the Verizon Innovation Lab facility.

Group photo in the Verizon Innovation Lab facility.

The excursion started with a catered lunch in the Verizon Innovation Center, allowing for casual interactions with MBA students and Verizon employees. This was followed by a series of presentations on topics such as 5G innovations, the product development process at Verizon, a tour of the facilities, and concluded with a discussion of the Verizon Ventures Program, giving students an insider look at the Verizon process of innovation and partnership.

Students were also full of praise about the experience.

“I found representing Chico State at the Verizon Innovation Center site visit to be one of the culminating experiences of my time in the MBA program,” said Slade Giles, current EIS MBA student. “Not only did we get to see the future of groundbreaking technology being developed and implemented, but we were given the opportunity to interact with and interview leading figures in the industry. Events such as this not only edify ourselves, but provide an essential bridge to our community and future.”

“The Verizon Innovation Center trip was an incredible opportunity that allowed all of us to not only spend quality time together, but to learn from industry professionals and apply classroom concepts to real life situations and professional discussions,” said MBA student Juanne Van Der Linde. “Dr. Casselman’s class was an incredibly positive and enjoyable experience that allowed us to apply all our knowledge learned throughout the program.”

Matt Meuter
MBA Director, College of Business

Photos courtesy of Mitch Casselman.

Glenn Hall

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Persons with disabilities who need accommodations or have questions about physical access may call the program sponsoring the event or call Accessibility Resource Center at 530-898-5959.