Teaching Tomorrow's Innovators

04/10/2020

Growing Entrepreneurship and Innovation minor is now offered at all Penn State campuses.

Not every student graduates looking for a job. The entrepreneurial spirit can strike early, and Penn State is answering the call for programs and resources to support young people with big ideas.

Teaching entrepreneurship in the classroom isn’t exactly a new concept at Penn State. In 2002, the university established its Engineering Entrepreneurship minor. Since its inception, the program has graduated more than 500 students from engineering, business, IST and communications disciplines.

In 2013, the ENTI minor was created to expand the entrepreneurship program across all campuses and incorporate more areas of interest. Offered through the Digital Learning Cooperative, the ENTI minor teaches the foundational skill necessary to start your journey as an entrepreneur, such as innovative thinking, leadership skills and management and planning. Skills mastered through this program benefit not only aspiring entrepreneurs, but students of nearly every area of study.

The program requires three central core courses and three courses specific to a student’s area of concentration, which is referred to as a cluster. “Clusters are designed to provide you with the skills to achieve your career goals — whether you aspire to take the technology world by storm, revolutionize information delivery or contribute to improving society one good idea at a time,” according to program materials.

Currently, nine clusters are offered: arts, digital entrepreneurship and innovation, entrepreneurship as advocacy, food and bio-innovation, hospitality management, new media, new ventures, social entrepreneurship and technology based entrepreneurship.

Students enrolled in the ENTI minor also receive benefits beyond the classroom experience. The Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank is collaborating with the ENTI faculty to ensure students are armed with not just the information, but also the practical skills necessary to follow their entrepreneurial pursuits.

“One of the things that faculty focus on in the ENTI program is getting students out of the classroom to practice the skills they are learning,” says LaunchBox Chief Amplifier Lee Erickson.

“As such, our collaboration with the ENTI faculty has resulted in the creation of a number of hands-on, interactive activities that require students to jump out of their comfort zone and apply what they are learning … ENTI students are doing more than talking about entrepreneurship: they are practicing the skills that are critical to success,” she says.

Penn State class of 2016 graduate Dylan Weisman is one of the program’s success stories, and he credits his achievements to the ENTI minor. He and four of his peers were accepted into the inaugural program at Penn State Abington during his sophomore year.

“Every moment spent in that program was something that helped me better myself, whether tangibly or intangibly,” he says. “Penn State did the best job of developing my entrepreneurial thinking and advancement by putting me through exercises of real application.”

The availability of local resources like the LaunchBox and the Penn State Small Business Development Center is also driving students to embrace entrepreneurship. According to Erickson, by collaborating with the ENTI faculty, the LaunchBox has been able to increase the number of students taking advantage of its services and programs.

“As a result,” Erickson says, “these students will be better prepared to start their own businesses, or help corporations to identify and enter new markets.”

For more information about the Entrepreneurship and Innovation minor offered at The Penn State University, check out their website at http://enti.psu.edu/arts_entrepreneurship.html.

Specific information about each cluster and minor requirements can also be found at http://bulletins.psu.edu/undergrad/programs/minors/E/ENTIMIN.

For more information about the Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank, visit their website at launchbox.psu.edu.

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