Research News

Major airline taps Vanderbilt ‘business boot camp’ for creative ideas; American Airlines has students focus online

[Media Note: Vanderbilt has a campus broadcast facility with a dedicated fiber optic line for TV interviews and a radio ISDN line.]

One of the country’s most successful airlines is challenging students in the Vanderbilt Accelerator Summer Business Institute to focus their creativity on an area most young people in the “Y-Generation” know better than the back of their hand, the Internet.

Here’s the challenge: if American Airlines’ advertising department were hypothetically given a 50 percent increase, with the condition that all the money must be focused on online resources, where, how, and why should American spend this increased resource?

The Accelerator teams will present their ideas on June 21 and the team with the best concept will fly to Dallas on July 12 to present at the American Airlines corporate office.

“This exercise gives us the opportunity to tap into fresh, innovative ideas from a group of young people who are more tied to the Internet and other new technologies than anyone else,” said Rob Britton, advisor to the chairman at American Airlines. “This is a fun way to brainstorm what the future of marketing can be.”

Other major companies and organizations such as Lexus, Whirlpool, FedEx, HCA and the National Civil Rights Museum are just some of the dozens of businesses launching marketing, finance, sales, communications and other challenges to the Accelerator students during the month-long business program May 26 through June 24 at the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management.

“The number of powerful companies interested in working with the students in the Accelerator Summer Business Institute is impressive,” said Owen adjunct professor of health care innovation and entrepreneurship Michael Burcham. “This is really a win-win situation for businesses and the young people involved.”

The Accelerator program is an action-packed immersion into all areas of business, from marketing to finance to real estate. In this four-week business boot camp, a select group of college undergraduates of varied majors – and those who have just graduated – work 10-12 hour days to get a unique jump start into the business world.

Students will interact with leaders from Fortune 500 and other successful companies along with Owen Graduate School of Management faculty to develop the skills they need to land meaningful internships, jobs or prepare them for business graduate school. They will also have the opportunity to interview for a variety of internships with the participating companies following the program.

To follow the progress of the Accelerator students and their projects, check out Michael Burcham’s blog at

The Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University is ranked as a top institution by BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, Financial Times and Forbes. For more news about Owen, visit

Media Contact: Amy Wolf, (615) 322-NEWS