Every Tuesday morning, Kansas State professor Saurav Pathak makes the trip from Overland Park to Manhattan to teach courses in innovation and entrepreneurship, eventually turning around Thursday night to head back home to his wife and daughter.
The family moved to Kansas from Michigan, but for six years, his wife had trouble finding work. Eventually, Cerner offered her a position in Kansas City. To give his wife the opportunity to pursue her career while also keeping his, Pathak agreed to make the commute to K-State weekly.
“The commute [is] worth it absolutely,” Pathak said. “[My wife] was [in] what I feel was a compromising position for her — she was away from her corporate job for six long years. So when an opportunity presented itself, she took a job at Cerner in Kansas City.”
While in Manhattan, Pathak is able to stay on-campus at the Brockman House for the low rate of $50 a night, including meals. Other professors, academics or athletic recruiters are able to stay there as well. This arrangement at K-State has worked for Pathak’s family for over two years now.
With a background in engineering, a PhD from the University of Florida and a PhD in entrepreneurship from Imperial College of London, Pathak is able to connect with a wide range of students.
“Even in a place like K-State — which many people will believe or think does not have a lot of technology or innovation ideas to pursue — you will be surprised to see so many neat cool technology ideas coming out of the ag business,” Pathak said. “For example, we were considering a project in our class last semester to develop a sunscreen for cattle, because when they contracted a skin disease, they behave differently and if they’re left with the live stock it can spread as an epidemic.”
Classes taught by Pathak are required for business majors, but other students from all colleges look to take innovation courses to further their careers. This project is one of many discussed in these advanced business strategy classes among others — like using drones to fly over crop fields to check for dry patches or potholes to assist farmers.
“It started with a 20-sized class, and now it stands at 44,” Pathak said. “It has more than doubled, so the popularity of that course has actually helped us grow bigger and we started proposing various interdisciplinary programs which has a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation as well.”
Pathak said his primary task is reaching out to an audience across campus to train them to better manage technology and innovation.
“Someone with my background, who has combined skills in entrepreneurship as well as technology from the perspective that I had pursued an engineering degree is a very good fit to be able to tell our next generation of students how to innovate,” Pathak said.