As the college of business at Iowa’s only land-grant institution, we have a responsibility to create practical business experiences for our students, and to create and share knowledge with the business community. We take this mission of service and outreach, both to our students and to Iowans, seriously, and we pursue it with great pride.

To this end, we publicly launched CyBIZ Lab last month, and as the college’s new dean, I couldn’t be more excited to share it with you and invite your participation.

At its core, CyBIZ Lab will connect our talented students and the business community. Students will consult directly with businesses of all sizes and new entrepreneurial ventures, helping them to solve their real-world business challenges. CyBIZ Lab will create opportunities for learning both inside and outside the classroom.

Our college has a long history of providing Iowa State University business students with experiential learning opportunities that offer the chance to translate theory into practice. In recent years, this has primarily taken the form of our faculty engaging with businesses in a partnership to create live cases in our classrooms.

John Wong, an associate professor of marketing, has long been a leader in this area, working with Caterpillar Inc. to present some of the firm’s challenges for student teams to collaborate and solve within the framework of his courses. Other faculty members have worked with companies such as Principal Financial Group Inc., Renewable Energy Group Inc. and Casey’s General Stores Inc. to create similar classroom case studies. These companies were eager to work with students because they had new and creative ideas for solving business problems.

As the use of live cases grew, my predecessor and his team wisely recognized their value. Mike Crum, our former interim dean and now Iowa State President Steven Leath’s senior policy adviser for economic development, championed a program to expand these types of experiential learning opportunities for students. Qing Hu, our associate dean for graduate programs and research, further developed the idea.

The result is CyBIZ Lab. It expands on the live case model not only by serving as a clearinghouse that will help generate more classroom case studies, but also by hosting student-to-business consulting opportunities that take place outside the classroom. It will also streamline the process for organizations wanting to partner with students and faculty on research projects.

Connecting and consulting with businesses serves our students by giving them industry exposure that supplements what they learn in the classroom. Students will work directly with businesses and new ventures, with the opportunity not just to build upon what they’re learning, but also to showcase their skills to potential employers. Our faculty will also benefit by learning more about the day-to-day challenges businesses face, and by gaining access to new research opportunities.

I encourage you learn more about the services CyBIZ Lab has to offer. By working with students in the lab, you’ll receive potential solutions to existing problems and provide experience for our future business leaders. Learn about our projects or submit a proposal for consideration at www.business.iastate.edu/cybizlab.

We’re proud of our land-grant roots and all the responsibilities and opportunities they afford us. With CyBIZ Lab, we can significantly enhance the opportunities we can offer to students, and do so in a way that benefits our students, businesses and Iowa’s economy.

David Spalding is the Raisbeck Endowed Dean of the College of Business at Iowa State University. He joined ISU from Dartmouth College last August.