Program Overview

Objective

Engineers and scientists around the globe launch high-tech companies to move their ideas to the market. Studies show that the majority of innovative products and services in our economy evolve from entrepreneurial ventures. By providing knowledge and skills important to the creation and leadership of such startups, the Engineering Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science aims to train the founders and leaders of tomorrow’s high-tech ventures. The Program is designed specifically for engineers and scientists. Courses are approached from the perspective of the student whose primary interest is in technological innovation, whose primary concentration is on engineering and science courses, and who has little or no prior business education.

Program Description

The Program offers a sequence of two courses designed to supplement a students’ engineering education. These courses are offered at both undergraduate and graduate levels. The first course provides an introduction to the early phases of a high-tech venture. It investigates the elements needed to seize an entrepreneurial opportunity and successfully launch a startup or spin-off company. The second course investigates the necessary steps for planning a high-tech venture. It provides students, working in teams of 3 or 4, an opportunity to develop and present a high-tech business plan. Throughout the 2-course sequence, emphasis is placed on the sequential risks and determinants of success in high-tech entrepreneurial ventures.

Course Content

EAS 545. The first of the two courses investigates key entrepreneurial areas of: (a) intellectual property, its protection and related strategies; (b) evaluating the market viability of new high-tech ideas; (c) shaping high-tech ideas into the right products or services for the right markets; (d) developing strategies for high-tech product positioning, marketing and operations; (e) acquiring the resources needed to start a new venture, e.g., people, financing, strategic partners, etc.; and (f) leadership roles for the founders of high-tech ventures.

EAS 546. The second of the two courses investigates the key elements of planning an entrepreneurial high-tech venture including: (a) defining the venture’s industry and market; (b) developing strategies for high-tech product positioning, marketing, distribution, sales, operations, management and development; and (c) preparing a financial plan. Effective written and verbal presentation skills are emphasized throughout the course.

Pedagogic Approach

The first course is taught through the use of classroom lectures, case study discussions, and guest speakers. Assignments include readings and case studies, essay assignments on the case studies, and problem sets. Student teams also complete a term project requiring them to evaluate the market viability of an innovative high-tech product or service.

The second course on high-tech business planning is taught through the use of classroom lectures, discussions of assigned readings, and the stepwise preparation and presentation of a high-tech business plan by student teams. The plans are ultimately presented to and reviewed by an experienced blue-ribbon panel of investors, advisors and entrepreneurs.

Students

With few exceptions, junior or senior standing is required of undergraduates. The curriculum is designed for students whose primary interest is in technology, as opposed to business management. With few exceptions, students are majoring in engineering or applied science disciplines.

Program Developments

EAS 548: A third course has been added to the Engineering Entrepreneurship curriculum; however, it is offered only during the summer. Hi-Tech Venture Development explores concepts in product design and development and go-to-market planning.

Minor in Engineering Entrepreneurship: Penn Engineering offers an undergraduate Minor in Engineering Entrepreneurship. Learn more.