Vanessa Z. Chan

Vanessa Z. Chan

Jonathan and Linda Brassington Practice Professor, Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Undergraduate Chair of Materials Science and Engineering
Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)


Honors and Awards:  Top SEAS Instructor – 2019, Inaugural Jonathan and Linda Brassington Practice Professor – 2019, Rad Award finalist for Product of the Year - 2016, Today Show Finalist for the Next Big Thing - 2016, Marvin Bower Award awarded by McKinsey in Recognition of Exemplary Firm Values -2016, Joel Portnoy Award awarded by McKinsey & Company for leadership - 2010, Alexander von Humboldt Post-Doctoral Fellow - 2000-2001, National Science Foundation International Research Opportunity Fellow - 1999-2000, IBM Co-operative Research Fellowship - 1997-1999, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship - 1994-1997

Research Expertise: Market-led Innovation | Entrepreneurship | Technology Commercialization

Professor Chan is an Educator, Maker, Entrepreneur, Investor, Keynote Speaker and Working Mom. She focuses at the interface of creativity, technology and business and joined the Penn Engineering Entrepreneurship faculty in Fall 2017. She is transforming engineering education by teaching students real world skills during their senior design capstone project and in 2019 was recognized as one SEAS’ top instructors. Prior to Penn she was a partner at McKinsey & Company where she co-led their innovation practice, helping Fortune 500 companies with deep R&D portfolios commercialize their technologies. She is a nationally recognized speaker on 1) applying a growth mindset to the corporate world and 2) work-life integration and her viral Penn Commencement address can be found at She is an inventor who has sold her patented inventions on QVC, an angel investor with Robin Hood Ventures, a member of various company boards including Vanguard’s Venture Board, a founding member of United Technology Corporation’s Business Advisory Council and a Trustee of the Kimmel Center and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.

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