Engineering Entrepreneurship: Preaching What He Practiced
Encouraging a passion for technology and cultivating a spirit of entrepreneurial innovation among Penn Engineers is the mission of the Engineering Entrepreneurship program, directed by Dr. Tom Cassel, Practice Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics. Tom preaches what he practiced, having joined Penn's faculty following a 20-year career of entrepreneurial business leadership. His company, Reading Energy Holdings, Inc., was a pioneer in the independent electric power industry - developing, owning and operating large-scale, waste-fueled power plants across the U.S. Advanced cutting-edge combustion and environmental technologies were hallmarks of each facility.
Though designed for students of engineering and applied science, the Engineering Entrepreneurship program attracts students from across the University who share a common interest in technology innovation. Courses in this popular program investigate the process of taking a high-tech idea, shaping it into a market-driven product, creating a venture to capture the value of this product, and leading the venture through its early growth phase. Students learn skills in strategy, execution, negotiation, leadership and communication, and take away not only the ability to plan and lead a high-tech venture, but the written and verbal skills to promote it.
In directing Penn's Engineering Entrepreneurship Program, Tom draws from his own personal wealth of entrepreneurial experiences and he consults fellow Penn faculty and colleagues from across the country. Classes use the case-study method to which he was introduced during his post-graduate work at Harvard Business School. Supplementing lectures and case discussions, guest speakers are a highlight of the program. These distinguished individuals are among the biggest successes in the high-tech venture industry.
Most, if not all, entrepreneurs will attribute some degree of "luck" to their success. "Luck" is the intersection on opportunity and preparation. Penn's Engineering Entrepreneurship Program aims to provide the preparation needed to seize entrepreneurial opportunity. Students are trained to become future leaders of high-tech ventures who will leverage their innovations to improve the world in which we live.
Credit: Penn Engineering Magazine, “Engineering Entrepreneurship: Preaching What He Practiced,” by Jennifer Baldino Bonett.