School of Business Awarded $1.1M CIBER Grant To Focus on Manufacturing & Global Opportunities

The University of Connecticut School of Business has been awarded a four-year U.S. Department of Education CIBER grant in excess of $1.1 million, to produce a series of programs and partnerships that center around manufacturing.


The CIBER—Center for International Business Education and Research—award comes following an extremely competitive application process in which only half of applicants had their awards renewed.

The theme of the UConn application is the renaissance of manufacturing, including the growth of manufacturing in the U.S. and its implications for exporting. The grant also addresses next-shoring, the idea that large manufacturers should use sophisticated global strategies, not simply pursue inexpensive labor costs, when developing an optimal global network of manufacturing locations.

“With this new grant, we’ll continue our commitment to being a significant national resource for international business teaching, research, and outreach,” said Sulin Ba, associate dean of academic and research support at the School of Business.

“Our proposal was one of only 17 that received government funding,” Ba noted. “The total number of CIBERs funded this time was cut from 33, so the competition was fierce. The fact that we were funded is a testament to the excellent work we do.”

Kelly Aceto, program director, said the manufacturing focus was developed and embraced by faculty and department heads. Collaboration with the faculty at the School of Engineering played a key role in the project’s success, she said.

“The reality is that manufacturing touches our areas of expertise in the School of Business, whether it is marketing, OPIM, management strategy or law,” she said. “Manufacturing is not only a priority in our country but also across our campus, where business and engineering students are working together to enhance their experiences. The more we dug into the idea of manufacturing, the more people got on board.”

The goal of CIBER programs is to enhance competitiveness of U.S. businesses in the global marketplace. The UConn application includes a slate of programming intended to serve students, faculty and the business community.

These programs will fill a significant need for U.S. manufacturers to develop the talent pool, understand emerging markets and new technology, implement process innovation, achieve sustainability and navigate policy.

OPIM Professor Robert Day agrees, and is most excited about the new collaborations across campus.

“The Management and Engineering for Manufacturing (MEM) Program at UConn is a unique undergraduate-educational partnership between the Schools of Business and Engineering, which will play a key role in driving this international focus on manufacturing at UConn,” Day said. “Grant money will help our faculty integrate new international perspectives into our manufacturing curriculum, as well as providing opportunities to strengthen our ties with existing international partners,” including colleges in Sweden, Germany and Ethiopia.

“CIBER initiatives are promising to facilitate new partnerships between Business and Engineering at UConn as well,” Day said. “For instance, CIBER and the School of Business hope to develop a Certificate Program in Manufacturing Management for the Global Market.”

As part of the grant, the University identified academic partners that could benefit from and enhance the program offerings. UConn chose Manchester Community College because of its already thriving manufacturing program, and its leadership in the Connecticut Community College network, as well as the state’s international efforts. In addition, UConn will partner with Southern University of Baton Rouge because of the leadership of its College of Business Dean, its AACSB accreditation, and its strong manufacturing initiatives. Both colleges will partake in UConn CIBER programs, and help design outreach activities for other community colleges and minority-serving institutions, a priority of the CIBER funding.

The program also has the business community intrigued.

“We’re pleased that Connecticut businesses, particularly small- and medium- sized enterprises, will have continued access to key CIBER programs, particularly in the manufacturing arena, which will allow our state’s businesses to enhance their position in the global economy,” said Laura Jaworski, business development project manager for the State Department of Economic and Community Development, who served as an application adviser.

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