Engineering Entrepreneurship at Penn: now in its 13th year, entrepreneurship program for engineers expands faculty to accommodate demand - Technical.ly Philly

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Oct. 11, 2012 10:30 am

Engineering Entrepreneurship at Penn: now in its 13th year, entrepreneurship program for engineers expands faculty to accommodate demand

Since 1993, Penn's Engineering School has offered an Engineering Entrepreneurship program in hopes of showing engineering students the practical applications of what they're building in the lab. Three thousand students - both undergraduate and masters - have gone through the program, started by professor Tom Cassel, says associate director of the program Jeffrey Babin, and it's continued to grow.

Looking out at Penn's Engineering School complex.

Wharton‘s not the only breeding ground for entrepreneurs at Penn.

Since 1993, Penn’s Engineering School has offered an Engineering Entrepreneurship program in hopes of showing engineering students the practical applications of what they’re building in the lab. Three thousand students – both undergraduate and masters – have gone through the program, started by professor Tom Cassel, says associate director of the program Jeffrey Babin, and it’s continued to grow.

This year, the program hired another faculty member to help accommodate student demand (last year 500 students took the courses): Elliot Menschik, founder of Callowhill coworking spot Venturef0rth.

This is what happens to bad robots. Just kidding, this is inside Penn’s Grasp Lab and these are robots that were used in the RoboCup, a soccer competition for robots that a Penn team has won two years in a row.

The program consists of two courses, Babin says: the first course looks at case studies of startups and teaches students about leadership, finance and how to turn ideas into product, the second course asks students to study a business plan, usually of an existing company, and eventually pitch it to a panel of venture capitalists. Babin says he also takes his students to monthly meetings of the Mid-Atlantic Angel Group (MAG Fund), which he helped found. [Updated, see below]

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There’s also a third course, focused on product development and design, but it’s only offered in the summer.

Babin says the courses are not about promoting startups directly, rather they’re about bringing entrepreneurship into engineering. Students can take those skills anywhere, he says, whether it be consulting, Wall Street or, of course, a new business.

Notable alumni of the program include Zach Goldberg, one of the first developers at Invite Media who went on to work at Google after Google acquired the startup; Jay Parekh, COO of Hydros Bottle, which we recently covered and Jason Halpern, who runs PowerFlower Solar, a solar technology company.

Updated 5:39 p.m. 10/11/12 to fix a typo. Originally, we wrote “Babin says he also takes his students to monthly meetings of the Mid-Atlantic Angel Group (MAG Fund), which he helped fund,” but we meant to say, “…which he helped found.”

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