PSU selected for NSF-funded entrepreneurial education program
Author: Julie Rutherford, Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science
Posted: December 16, 2015

Portland State University is one of 14 higher education institutions to be selected to participate in a program designed to help institutions integrate innovation and entrepreneurship into undergraduate engineering education. “Pathways to Innovation” is run by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), which is funded by the National Science Foundation. It is directed by Stanford University and VentureWell, an organization that makes strategic financial investments in higher education programs that cultivate new ideas.

Through Pathways to Innovation, participating schools assemble a team of faculty and academic leaders to assess and transform their school’s current model for engaging students in meaningful ways that support their entrepreneurial efforts. A typical timeline for transformation is two years.

“Today, engineering and computer science students are expected to enter industry with technical knowledge as well as a diverse set of mindsets, skillsets and attitudes that help them innovate, collaborate and create value,” said Tom Byers, director and co-principal investigator of Epicenter and professor at Stanford University. “As educators, we need to better prepare this generation of students for the workforce, position them for success in their careers, and give them more opportunities to bring their innovative ideas to life.”

The Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science currently offers students a variety of opportunities to explore their own ingenuity and develop the business acumen required to achieve success in the real world. One such program, The Beta Project, awards “Innovation Grants” to students that range from $1,000 to $3,000 to develop an original idea from proposal to prototype. Launch-in-9, offers an entrepreneurial alternative to Portland State’s award-winning Senior Capstone program. Launch-in-9 pairs undergraduate students majoring in engineering or computer science with MBA candidates who are then coached through an intensive nine-month boot camp to launch a start-up prior to graduation.

Other university teams selected for the 2016 Pathways Program include Binghamton University - SUNY, California State University - Northridge, The City College of New York - CUNY, Florida A&M University / Florida State University, Grand Valley State University, Louisiana Tech University, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, South Dakota State University, University of New Hampshire, University of North Alabama, University of South Florida, Western Carolina University, and Western Kentucky University.

This new cohort joins a community of 36 other institutions currently participating in the program.

Leaders from each Pathways team met for the first time at Stanford University on November 19-20, 2015. They will meet again in January 2016 to kick-start the transformation of the engineering undergraduate experience offered at their school.

Learn more about the Pathways to Innovation Program at the program website

Engineering and Technology Managegment professors Shimon Shmueli, and Antonie Jetter (fourth and third from bottom right respectively) join other educators participating in the Pathways to Innovation 2016 cohort. Shmueli and Jetter oversee the Maseeh College Innovation Programs which include the Beta Project, and Launch-in-9.