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When Jason Evanish first read the email asking if he wanted to become the next Bill Gates, he dismissed it as "corny." But, as he read the entire invitation to a seminar on a new minor offered in technological entrepreneurship, he had a realization.
"Most of the innovative, interesting new technologies come from start-up companies," says Evanish. "It would be much more fun to be at a start-up than to work as a staff engineer for a huge company. I decided to go hear what it was all about."
What he heard really resonated. Thanks to a $1.5 million gift to the Leadership Campaign from University trustee Jean Tempel, a venture capitalist at First Light Capital, Northeastern was about to launch a new School for Technological Entrepreneurship which would immediately offer minors to students in all majors and, once fully established, grant graduate certificates and a master's degree.
The School of Technological Entrepreneurship was officially established in 2004 to teach students from a variety of disciplines what it takes to start high growth technology-based companies.
In the fall of 2005, former Northeastern electrical engineering professor Paul Zavracky, LA '71, MS '75, became its first dean. A center of multidisciplinary activity, the school serves students from science, computing, engineering, health sciences and business.
The faculty members come from a wide range of disciplines and all possess firsthand experience with the process of converting an idea into an opportunity and ultimately, a marketable product. Students study topics including intellectual property rights, technology licensing, product development strategies, marketing, and finance and business plan development.
"We are very excited about the new school," says Zavracky. "It is one of the first stand-alone schools devoted to technological entrepreneurship. It's a new concept, and Northeastern is leading the way, with the help of some generous and visionary supporters."
Now a middler, Evanish has completed a basic business course, where he learned to read a balance sheet and other business skills not taught in a traditional engineering program. In his current course, Evanish is conducting research on several possible technologies to determine which is most promising, and will then write a business and marketing plan for it.
"I am learning how to identify a good project, and take it from an idea to a marketable product," says Evanish. "Without this program, I might still be an electrical engineer, but would not have the business skills to establish and run a company."
The need for business acumen has been reinforced by the many Northeastern alumni who come to speak to students. Entrepreneurs themselves, they often lament the fact that they lacked the business skills necessary when they started their own companies, and encourage students to get as much business training as possible.
"Many of them fumbled through the process," says Evanish. "Getting this minor in Technological Entrepreneurship will help me avoid those pitfalls."
"I am so grateful someone had the foresight to
establish this school, and to do so at Northeastern, were it fits
nicely with the University's entrepreneurial history," says Evanish.
"Without it, I would not have discovered my potential to become an
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