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Education Featured Article

September 23, 2011

Carnegie Mellon Program for Entrepreneurs Capitalizes on Internet, Tech-Based Innovations

By Erin Harrison, Executive Editor, Cloud Computing

Even though Bill Gates (News - Alert) didn’t go to college, most entrepreneurs, especially those starting up businesses in the technology sector, need help from a higher educational institution.

TMC CEO Rich Tehrani (News - Alert) recently interviewed Ray Bareiss, professor and director of educational services at Carnegie Mellon University, Silicon Valley. The university recently launched new one-year software master’s program, with a strong focus on entrepreneurship.

“In one year students will go from a germ of an idea, to a finished product, a business plan and hopefully even a launch venture,” said Bareiss. “The value is that they don’t just get this help and support in launching companies, they are also earning a Carnegie Mellon degree which has enduring value regardless of whatever happens to this particular venture of theirs.”

Unlike the traditional college lecture model with homework, “students work on authentic projects in teams, they are coached by faculty who teach them what they need to know just enough just in times to what is relevant to what they are doing, students are evaluated on the work that is produce,” Bareiss said. “We have the goal of educating students and supporting students in achieving their dream.”

When the program started, Bareiss said the university expected younger students to join the program, however, the school is seeing more established students apply for the master’s program.

“What we are seeing instead are many students with a lot more work experience. …We are seeing a number of other students who want to be key early technical employees of start-up companies and then perhaps more surprisingly we are seeing students who are not interested in entrepreneurship per se, but are interested in what you might call enterprise innovation – innovating in a large company context and they believe that an entrepreneurial curriculum is the best place to learn the knowledge and skills they need to do this,” he explained.

Bareiss pointed to a new survey that found the average entrepreneur is 39 years old and, in fact, the 20-34-year-old age group has “the lowest participation in entrepreneurial activities of any age cohort.”

“The message is the right educational program can help you as an entrepreneur because what you want to do is succeed or fail based on the strength of your vision for your venture,” Bareiss said. “There are a million other pitfalls, things involving understanding customer and user needs, hiring the right people, managing people appropriately, putting the right processes in place to run your company, technical and marketing strategies, sales strategies, business plan, putting the right financing deal together. You don’t want to succeed or fail based on these secondary factors, you want it all to be about the quality of your idea.”

Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TMCnet, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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