The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Crawley and Paciulli Mentor Budding Entrepreneurs from Various Colleges and Universities in Western Massachusetts

Eric Crawley (left) and Melissa Paciulli (right)

Eric Crawley and Melissa Paciulli (l-r)

College of Engineering members Eric Crawley and Melissa Paciulli are the Entrepreneurs-in-Residence of the 2020 Collegiate Summer Venture Program (CSVP), hosted by the UMass Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship and the Valley Venture Mentors. Crawley is also the Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the College of Engineering, where his main function is to help students and faculty members develop their creative ideas into productive new companies. Paciulli is a local entrepreneur and doctoral candidate in the Transportation Engineering Program of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

According to the CSVP website, the intensive 10-week CSVP is designed to support and accelerate student entrepreneurs at various stages in venture development. Budding entrepreneurs work with dedicated mentors, industry experts, and seasoned entrepreneurs over the course of the summer to accelerate their companies.

According to Crawley, “As an Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the CSVP, I work with the ventures daily to help them be accountable to their venture and to help them apply what they are learning in these sessions to their venture.”

Crawley has excellent credentials for this mentoring work. He holds a B.A. degree in Systems Science and an M.S. in Engineering Management. Over the last three decades, he has worked for companies ranging from multi-national corporations to a variety of startups.

Crawley summarizes his CSVP duties by saying that “Melissa and I each have a ‘pod’ of five ventures that we work with. Each venture also has three outside mentors that they meet with weekly to help guide them in developing their venture by understanding their customers, developing their business model, and realizing their product or service.”

Paciulli adds that “We meet daily with the ventures in our pods and help to foster accountability through ‘stand-ups.’ Each stand-up is a two-to-five-minute process of telling your pod how you will move your venture along by explaining what you did yesterday, what you plan on doing today, and what is getting in your way. This provides a level of accountability to the ventures and helps foster community among the ventures.”

According to Paciulli, “My interest in becoming an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with the CSVP was to give back and to help other student entrepreneurs learn about taking their ventures to the next level.”

Paciulli has arrived at this position through first-hand venture experience. As she recounts, “My research is focused on teens with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and finding solutions to help them drive safer. Through this research, I have developed a game-based training program that I plan to test in the Arbella Human Performance Lab [a driving simulator] in the upcoming months.” 

Paciulli says that, throughout the process of her research, she began to pursue the possibility of commercializing this training tool and reached out to venture supports at UMass within the College of Engineering and the BerthiaumeCenter. 

“I feel supported by the entrepreneurial ecosystem at UMass and in the Pioneer Valley and I felt excited to be able to help other students,” Paciulli explains. “It is an incredible experience to help guide founders and watch them grow and pivot as they sharpen their business plan.” 

Among other qualifications, Paciulli is a higher education administrator in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). She has a B.A. in Economics and Math from Westfield State University, an M.S. in Civil Engineering from UMass, and a certification from Cornell University in Women’s Entrepreneurship. She is also the co-founder of Pioneer Valley Women in STEM.

Crawley and Paciulli say that they have great support from the College of Engineering in their work for the CSVP, and especially from Senior Research Fellow Apoorva Baja of the Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department Head Sundar Krishnamurty, and Director of Engineering Management Woodrow Winchester of the MIE department who have all led sessions for the CSVP. 

The CSVP is open to all students from American International College, Amherst College, Bay Path University, Elms College, Greenfield Community College, Hampshire College, Holyoke Community College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, Springfield College, Springfield Technical Community College, UMass, Western New England University, and Westfield State University. (July 2020)