Purdue News

September 1, 2005

Undergrad entrepreneurship certificate aims to enroll 1,000 students

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A new entrepreneurship and innovation certificate program at Purdue University's Discovery Park has an enrollment goal of 1,000 undergraduate students from every college and school on campus.

The initial class – ENTR 200: Introduction to Entrepreneurship and Innovation – kicked off the fall semester with a full class of 40 students. Michael Menefee, a professor of organizational leadership and supervision who is teaching the class, said the initial offering wasn't even listed in last spring's schedule of classes.

"We notified academic advisers prior to the start of classes," he said. "We filled the class in one week and have nine or 10 students on a waiting list, so there is certainly demand."

Nathalie Duval-Couetil, the certificate program coordinator, said students will complete 15 credits to earn the certificate. Following completing the foundation courses, ENTR 200 and 201, students have the choice among classes on raising capital or marketing new ventures and entrepreneurial opportunities in dynamic areas such as energy and nanotechnology.

"In their senior year, students will take a capstone class," Duval-Couetil said. "They will have the opportunity to work in interdisciplinary teams with a startup or early-stage company or other experience to apply the principles they've learned in class."

She said the program aims to reach its 1,000-student goal by fall 2008.

Ron Steuterman, associate director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, said the entrepreneurship certificate program differs from offerings elsewhere in several respects.

"It's truly interdisciplinary," he said. "The first class has drawn students from a number of schools and colleges – technology, management, science, engineering, consumer and family sciences and liberal arts.

"We've also had great support from the provost and the deans, and we have professors from a variety of disciplines, including management, English, engineering, agricultural economics, hospitality and tourism management and industrial, computer and mechanical engineering technology."

The certificate program will shift into full gear next semester when as many as four sections of Introduction to Entrepreneurship and Innovation 200 may be offered in addition to Entrepreneurship and Innovation 201. The program is designed to start in the sophomore year, but Steuterman said in this startup period freshmen may enroll, and every effort will be made to oblige motivated juniors.

Duval-Couetil said in addition to its interdisciplinary basis, the entrepreneurship certificate program will profit from being based at the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship at Discovery Park, Purdue's hub for interdisciplinary research and enterprise.

"We want to teach students how to seize opportunities regardless of their field of study," she said. "We want students to know the language of business and technology because this knowledge adds to their marketability at graduation and ultimately their success in any work environment."

Jerry M. Woodall, director of the entrepreneurship center, said the certificate program builds upon the thinking of Richard A. Cosier, Krannert School dean and Leeds Professor of Management, who served as director of the entrepreneurship center in its two-year startup period.

"We want to give credit to Rick's ideas and Rick's people who put the foundations of the center and this program into place," Woodall said. "This entrepreneurship certificate program's interdisciplinary approach of bringing together students, professors and researchers to turn problems into opportunities and businesses is what our center and Discovery Park are all about."

Steuterman said the center has received support not only on campus but also from outside organizations and individuals. The Burton D. Morgan Foundation contributed $250,000 in startup and support funds over three years. Longtime Purdue benefactor Alan Peterson and his foundation provided $150,000 in support for research and scholarships, renewable for $100,000 more.

Steuterman said while entrepreneurship has become an increasingly popular offering at universities, there is no prescribed curriculum.

"In this and future economies, entrepreneurial skills will apply in both big and small business. We want to introduce a broad understanding of entrepreneurial thinking and process and induce the self-awareness in the students to be successful in whatever direction they choose to go."

Writer: Mike Lillich, (765) 494-2077, mlillich@purdue.edu

Sources: Michael Menefee, (765) 494-5612, menefeem@purdue.edu

Nathalie Duval-Couetil, (765) 494-7068, natduval@purdue.edu

Ronald Steuterman. (765) 494-4437, steuterm@purdue.edu

Jerry M. Woodall, (765) 494-9870, woodall@ecn.purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


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