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Student Research: Bentley Undergraduate & Masters Students

Bentley’s commitment to the teacher-scholar model (Kuh, Chen & Nelson Laird, 2007) has a significant impact upon the university’s bachelors and masters’ students with many of them electing to pursue research as part of their program studies. As an illustration, at the graduate level, the MS Human Factors and Information Design program requires students gain exposure to ethnography, field research, interviews, survey design and formative/summative usability testing. Many students also select the thesis track for their degree. Across the other masters’ degrees, including within the MBA portfolio, students have the opportunity to pursue a research paper within a course or as an independent study.

Research at the undergraduate level is also noteworthy, particularly within the honors program, as a component of several of the primary major options, and within the Liberal Studies Major. Outside of the formal curriculum, scholarly activity by undergraduate students is exemplified by the launch of the inaugural issue of the Bentley Microfinance Review in 2013 by the Bentley Microfinance Group. This is the only undergraduate academic journal dedicated to microfinance. Student-run and student-edited like the law review models found in many of the finest law schools in the country, the Review will publish high quality research that significantly informs and contributes to the fields of microfinance, microenterprise and community development.

Featured Graduate Research: liz burton (ms human factors and information design)

Liz Burton’s (MSHFID 2013) paper, coauthored with Bill Albert and Mark Flynn, entitled “A Comparison of the Performance of Webcam vs. Infrared Eye Tracking Technology” was published in the Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, September 2014, vol. 58, no. 1, pp. 1437-1441

The study compared results obtained using the SMI infrared and Sticky webcam eye tracking technologies. Participants viewed a series of images twice, once using each technology. A comparison of the results showed that the infrared equipment is more accurate for smaller images, particularly those farther from the center of the screen. Infrared technology is also a better option when it is important to capture dwell time. For larger images, however, the webcam technology achieved accuracy similar to SMI infrared in capturing the percent of participants who fixated on a particular stimulus. For testing that uses reasonably sized images and avoids the periphery of the screen, the webcam system appears to be a viable alternative for determining whether the stimulus is noted. The finding has implications for how eye tracking may be used as part of market research and usability testing.

Featured underGraduate Research: bringing curbside-composting to belmont

Olivia’s Locke’s (2014) project entitled “Bringing Curbside-Composting to Belmont: The Environmental and Economic Benefit of Implementing a City Wide Curbside-Composting System in Belmont, Massachusetts” was to design a pilot program for curbside composting in her home town of Belmont, Massachusetts. The economic considerations of her proposal examined (1) the costs incurred and (2) the savings generated by the town of Belmont in adopting the program. Cost payments, which include multiple cost options, were estimated by Garbage to Garden, an organics processing company that started its operations in Portland, Maine, but has expressed interest in moving to the greater Boston area. The cost savings associated with this program include a reduction in tipping fees at landfills and the possibility of a reduced contract prices with current waste haulers. In addition, program costs may be offset by DEP grants available to towns pursing composting programs. Olivia presented this paper at the Bentley Honors Conference, and also made several presentations to the Belmont town council on the potential for adopting the framework.

Olivia’s project was supported by a grant to the Honors Program by United Technologies Corporation.

Featured Undergraduate research: customer experience in the age of the consumer

Working with her supervisor, Professor Mark Davis (Management), Rachael Dempsey’s (2014) honors capstone project won the Honors Capstone Award for Exceptional Research in Business. Her primary motivation in doing this capstone project was to clearly demonstrate the need to create a new type of position at the corporate level – the Chief Customer Officer. This new C-level position is just starting to emerge in some of the leading edge firms that recognize the continuing shift in power in the marketplace from the providers of goods and services to the customers who purchase and consume them. The subject of her project, which focuses on the need for organizations to create an outstanding customer experience, is most relevant in today’s highly competitive environment. With most goods and services quickly becoming commodities, world class companies are now looking to providing their customers with exceptional service to differentiate themselves from their competitors, and creating a very memorable and positive customer experience is a major factor in accomplishing this. In fact, her own study found that just over 83% of her survey respondents would pay between 5% and 25% more for superior service, underscoring the need for excellent customer service in organizations. Rachael’s capstone project was not just “something to get done” but rather was an ongoing and integral part of her overall Bentley experience, helping her to achieve her career goal of becoming the Chief Customer Officer in a major organization. In fact, one of the companies which she interviewed for a job was so impressed with her ideas that they offered to create a CCO position for her to fill. 

Featured Undergraduate Research: quantifying the economic effects of energy literacy

Working with Professor David Szymanski in the Department of Natural and Applied Sciences and Professor Dhaval Dave in the Economics Department, Bentley senior Aaron Pinet (2014) researched links between energy literacy and consumer spending as part of an Honors Capstone project in the fall of 2013.   In an effort to gauge the impacts and possible casual relationships between energy literacy and spending, Aaron successfully presented a research proposal to National Grid, a large electric and gas utility.   After designing and testing a 12-question energy literacy quiz, National Grid surveyed 120,000 consumers in their New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts markets.  With over 4,300 responses linked to demographic and energy use data, Aaron is developing an econometric model to estimate possible economic benefits of increased energy literacy among consumers.  

Featured Undergraduate Research: formal and informal institutions: implications for the microfinance industry

Gerard Fischetti (2014) worked with his advisor Professor Dhaval Dave (Economics) on a project to investigate the institutional arrangements which make some countries more successful in microfinance initiatives than others. He found that that political rights, low corruption and access to credit information are significant determinants of the supply of microloans and the number of microfinance firms. These results have important implications for understanding the cross-national spatial disparities in the penetration of microfinance firms, and point to the importance of accounting for differences in democratic institutions when studying the effects of microfinance availability. He presented this paper at the Northeast Regional Honors Conference as well as the Bentley Honors Conference. This paper will be published in the journal Bentley Microfinance Review.  Gerard began a PhD program in economics at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill in 2014.

Gerard’s project was supported by a grant to the Honors Program by United Technologies Corporation.

Featured Undergraduate Research: the independence of the reserve bank of india

Working with advisor Professor Dave Gulley (Economics), Aradhana Kaul’s (2014) research explored the importance the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) independence on long-term economic growth.  The study relied on insights drawn from a meeting with RBI economists in Mumbai, India and found that the RBI considers independence as an important prerequisite, yet emphasizes that the middle course for monetary policy is critical for balancing growth objectives and inflation expectations. Aradhana’s analysis of media stories published during RBI monetary policy reviews indicated that the public's perception of the RBI's objectives is not only a function of its communications, but is also strongly influenced by such factors as exchange-rate and current account deficit.

To address the recurring inconsistency between actual and perceived objectives, this study proposed a hierarchical mandate for the RBI. This mandate was designed to place price stability as a primary objective, followed by a secondary set of objectives, namely economic growth, financial stability, and exchange-rate stability, respectively.

Featured Undergraduate Research: big data and analytical models of innovation in the biopharmaceutical industry

Undergraduate researchers have played an important role in developing the big data and analytical capabilities of the Center for Integration of Science and Industry.  The center’s Technology Innovation Maturation Evaluation (TIME) model was pioneered by Eric Ndung’u (2012) working with Professor Fred Ledley (Natural and Applied Sciences) and a former Bentley faculty member Professor Rick Cleary. After several false starts looking for patterns in the progress of biomedical science, Eric was able to show that the number of publications in discrete areas of research followed a log-logistic growth cycle.  When Eric graduated this work was continued by Ashley Rossi (MS 2014) and Cory Kalin (2016), who expanded on these observations by calculating metrics for critical points in this growth cycle. Working with Dr. Laura McNamee of the Center for Integration of Science and Industry, they showed that these metrics correlated with seminal events in translational science including the discoveries that initiate new areas of research, to the approval of new drugs based on this research. Programming in Excel, they were also able to develop a user-friendly template for efficient analysis of large data sets.

Jake Wegweiser (2017), working with Dr. Michael Walsh  of the Center for Integration of Science and Industry,  is taking this work further by building a patent database at Bentley that can be subjected to advanced analytic analyses.  This terabyte-sized database, the largest at Bentley, will be used to study the first steps toward commercialization of scientific discoveries, when inventor’s institutions file patents that protect their intellectual property so that it can be transferred to commercial enterprises capable of developing these advances into new products and services. Data from the patent database will be incorporated into the analytical models of innovation being developed at the center, and also available to other Bentley faculty for their research or curriculum.