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Three entrepreneurship projects to receive funding

By : Rachel Coker

Three faculty projects designed to bring an entrepreneurial focus to students in a variety of disciplines will help to inaugurate the Entrepreneurship Across the Curriculum program at Binghamton.

“We have an ability to shape students’ minds in a way that will benefit both them and society,” said Eugene Krentsel, assistant vice president for Technology Transfer and Innovation Partnerships. “It’s what students want and it’s what students need. This is a way to expose students to the idea of being more than a cog in a big machine — no matter what their specialty might be.”

Krentsel’s office recently spearheaded the program in partnership with the Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging Center (S3IP). The winning faculty members will each receive $1,000 to design or revise a course that will devote substantial attention to entrepreneurship. They are:

• Krishnaswami “Hari” Srihari, dean of the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, who will create an Entrepreneurship Across Engineering module that could then be incorporated into senior-level and graduate courses ranging from Enterprise Systems Engineering to Systems Design, Health Systems and Supply Chain Management.

• David Campbell, assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration, who plans to revise Introduction to Nonprofit Management and Leadership to include more content related to social entrepreneurship.

• Carolyn Pierce, assistant professor in the Decker School of Nursing, who will create a class focused on complexity science as a tool to develop innovative health-care provider roles. The class will be a graduate-level offering for Decker students as well as students in bioengineering.

The courses will be offered sometime during the 2010-11 school year and at least twice more in the following five years.

The Entrepreneurship Across the Curriculum, or ExC, steering committee chose the projects and will hold a half-day workshop this semester for faculty members who wish to develop proposals for the next round of funding, which will be announced soon.

“Entrepreneurship is a critical ingredient in the recipe for our nation’s and the world’s survival, not only economically but also socially and culturally,” said H. Stephen Straight, professor of anthropology and linguistics and chair of the committee. “The ExC initiative seeks to bring this fact to the attention of students in every school, department and program.”

He added that he was pleased by the diversity of approaches and disciplines represented by the first set of proposals. “If these projects are all successful, a year or so from now we will have a very useful array of models for others to emulate,” he added. “Even if one or more fails, we will be able to learn something unique in the process.”

The committee has offered examples of potential ExC courses in fields ranging from philosophy to cinema and from economics to biology. The next round of funding will be awarded in late spring or early summer.

Jodi Epstein, a senior and director of Catalysts for Intellectual Capital 2020, also serves on the steering committee. She said the program has the potential to foster economic development and new partnerships between students and area business leaders.

“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 and career development,” she said. “Yes, we have experienced economic downtown, but students coming out of college can shape their own futures with the right mindset.”

Bahgat Sammakia, director of S3IP and executive director of economic development for the University, said ExC dovetails with an important aspect of the center’s mission: educating students in engineering and science and preparing them for careers in academia and industry.

“We feel that entrepreneurial thinking is an integral and necessary part of students’ education if they are to excel in a globally competitive environment,” he said.

In fact, Krentsel said, students are a key audience when it comes to building a nation’s entrepreneurial spirit. That’s because entrepreneurship goes hand-in-hand with a willingness to take risks and try new approaches — and to be prepared to learn from failure. That’s much easier to do at the beginning of a career than it is later on.

He also pointed out that there’s a growing interest in entrepreneurial thinking as a means of innovating from within a larger company or organization. This “intrapreneurship” model has been embraced by companies such as Google, which gives its engineers one day a week to work on pet projects.

Krentsel said he hopes the ExC courses will become a signature of undergraduate education at Binghamton. “This is Binghamton University being entrepreneurial,” he said. “We’re competing for the best and brightest students, and this is a way to distinguish ourselves from other schools.”

On the Web

Learn more about Entrepreneurship Across the Curriculum online at



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Last Updated: 10/14/08