Engineering Entrepreneurship Leads Three CT Institutions to Collaborate in Masters Program

The latest effort to attract talented entrepreneurs from around the world to the state of Connecticut is a new partnership between the University of Connecticut, Trinity College and the University of New Haven, launching a joint Master’s of Engineering in Global Entrepreneurship. It is the first engineering-focused entrepreneurial graduate degree in the state.

The new master’s degree program aims to create what officials describe as “a nurturing ecosystem” to enable novice entrepreneurs to learn best practices, receive mentorship from veteran entrepreneurs, and be “set-up for success.”

The program, which is fully funded, will recruit individuals from all over the world who are in the early stages of developing start-ups, or who have shown an impressive penchant for entrepreneurship, to apply to the program. Accepted students will receive full tuition remission, a yearly stipend, and significant other resources to help them commercialize their ventures.

“This program, and its related initiatives, will be a major step towards bringing in the best and the brightest from all over the world, giving them the tools they need, and turning them into major entrepreneurial advocates for the state of Connecticut,” said UConn associate dean of engineering Mei Wei. “If we can bring them in early, train them, and open up doors toward commercialization, then we can literally help create start-ups from scratch, and help them to grow roots in this state.”

Similar programs are being offered by universities across the country, including at Brown, Dartmouth, University of Pennsylvania, and Villanova.  Some include a focus at the undergraduate and graduate levels, while others are certificate, rather than degree, programs. Support for the Connecticut program comes from CTNext, with a funding match from UConn’s Schools of Engineering and Business, Trinity College, and the University of New Haven.

Kazem Kazerounian, dean of UConn’s School of Engineering, says it is essential to spread the net wide when recruiting in order to bring in the most talented students, regardless of their state or country of origin, in the same way student-athletes are recruited. “We have to search nationally and internationally to assemble the best possible collection of talent.”

John Elliott, dean of the School of Business, says that creating more entrepreneurial programs in a wider variety of academic concentrations will have a significant impact on Connecticut’s economic future.

“At the School of Business, we have a tremendous opportunity to help other entrepreneurs, in the sciences, engineering, medicine, and other specialties, to develop the business knowledge and meet the mentors and advisers who can help them take a great idea and bring it to the marketplace.

The three institutions will work during the next few months to develop the curriculum, establish an advisory board, create a virtual inter-institutional platform, and plan to start recruiting for the first cohort of students. All three institutions have a lengthy pedigree in engineering, and effective programs to advance entrepreneurship at the undergraduate level.  UNH offers the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN), focused on fostering an entrepreneurial mindset in engineering students.  Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney has described engineering, entrepreneurship and innovation as part of the college’s DNA.

The program is being co-led by David Noble, professor-in-residence in management, director of the Peter J. Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, and co-director of the UConn Entrepreneurship and Innovation Consortium; Hadi Bozorgmanesh, professor of practice in engineering entrepreneurship and co-director of the UConn Entrepreneurship and Innovation Consortium; Sonia Cardenas, dean of academic affairs and strategic initiatives at Trinity College; and Ron Harichandran, dean of the Tagliatela College of Engineering at the University of New Haven.