Binghamton University has recently revealed two major initiatives that aim to encourage entrepreneurship among students and faculty alike.
The first initiative is an effort to help faculty members who are thinking of starting their own businesses.
Zhihao Yang, chief technical officer and co-founder of NanoMas Technologies, a company which specializes in making inks for printable electronics, has signed up as an adviser for six months to offer assistance to BU faculty members with their own entrepreneurial plans.
The second initiative, called Entrepreneurship Across the Curriculum (ExC), will allow faculty members to explore entrepreneurship opportunities in their own classes.
An ExC committee, comprised of faculty from various departments as well as representatives of groups such as Catalysts for Intellectual Capital 2020 (CIC2020), will provide financial support and guidance to faculty members who want to incorporate entrepreneurship components into their courses.
The committee will review proposals submitted by faculty members and decide which projects will receive ExC funds.
“ExC will (eventually, as classes will be developed over time) provide the opportunity for BU students from all the disciplines, from arts [and] engineering [to] science [and] history … to get a glimpse of how they can be entrepreneurial within their own discipline,” said Eugene Krentsel, assistant vice president for technology transfer and innovation partnerships at BU.
H. Stephen Straight, professor of anthropology and linguistics and chairman of the ExC committee, hopes that in addition to expanding the curricula of University courses already established, the initiative will encourage faculty and students to start entrepreneurial ventures on campus and in the community as well.
Other members of the ExC committee believe that including entrepreneurship in academics early on will expand students’ options after they leave college to join the workforce.
”If students have some understanding of innovation and entrepreneurship, they will be much more likely to get involved in new ventures [instead of] looking for a ‘secure’ position in a large established firm,” said Ken McLeod, a member of the ExC committee and chair and professor of bioengineering. “This is absolutely essential to the economic redevelopment of the region and, indeed, of the state.”
Students are supportive of the integration of entrepreneurship into their curriculum at BU.
“As a student, I think it is important that Binghamton University starts the ExC program in order to promote ‘entrepreneurial,’ innovative thinking in the present knowledge economy,” said Jodi Epstein, a senior human development major who is the director of Catalysts for Intellectual Capital 2020 and sits on the steering committee for ExC.
“Entrepreneurship Across the Curriculum is important because, no matter what major, students will have the opportunity to associate their academic studies with entrepreneurship and potentially create ideas for actual business start-up/career development,” she said.
According to Epstein, CIC2020 thinks that ExC is an important addition to BU because of the program’s potential to foster economic development and strategic partnerships between University students and key business leaders in the surrounding area.
According to McLeod, the Entrepreneurship Across the Curriculum committee hopes to receive proposals from faculty members as early as December and approve funds for projects in January 2010.