Engineering and business often thrive when put together, but opportunities for students of these two fields to interact remain few. The Technology Entrepreneurship Night (TEN), held on Friday, April 20 helped remedy this with an evening that fostered communication between the two disciplines.
The fourth annual TEN included panel discussions about green and renewable energy, information technology and wireless devices. Graduate student groups from the College of Engineering and the School of Management organized the event. Local industry experts, inventors, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs led panel discussions that were attended by more than 150 business and engineering students, alumni and visitors from other universities.
“The purpose of TEN is to open lines of communication between students, faculty, alumni and professionals for the purpose of sharing experiences and knowledge,” said organizer Tom Hamilton (GSM ’07). In his address to attendees, Hamilton stressed the need for academia to follow the industry trend to move away from a “silo” model of distinctly separate departments and towards a model that allows for more communication between groups.
The panelists spoke to students about their experiences as entrepreneurs starting companies, or, in the case of venture capitalists, choosing companies to fund. Students got the chance to “interact with leading entrepreneurs who have already been on the road of translating technology into finished products,” said engineering graduate student Rohit Kumar (ECE), who organized the wireless devices panel.
The evening also gave students from each discipline a window into the other. Tom Little, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, moderated the wireless devices panel. “What was fascinating when I spoke with students after the panel, the business students wanted to learn more about technology, and the engineering students wanted to learn more about entrepreneurship,” Little said. He sees potential for this relationship to grow, perhaps by involving business students in senior design projects at the College of Engineering, or bringing engineering students into the annual business plan competition held at the School of Management.
Building the relationship will take time, he said, but events like TEN bring us closer to “one big BU, one step at a time.”