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The business of engineering

New options for entrepreneurial engineers

By Meaghan Whelan

For years there has been talk of the faculties of business and engineering collaborating to create an entrepreneurship stream for engineering students, but it was a chance meeting in Houston, Texas, that finally got the ball rolling.

Brian Veitch, acting associate dean for research in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, and Peggy Coady, director of graduate programs in the Faculty of Business, started working at Memorial within months of each other. They both won President’s Awards at the same ceremony in 2004 and have worked in adjacent buildings for more than 10 years but it wasn’t until a Memorial alumni event in Houston that the pair met.

That meeting coincided with changes in the ocean and naval architectural engineering program that make it easier for students to take a focused stream of electives, the ideal time to introduce an entrepreneurship stream for engineering students.

“Our meeting was a great example of being in the right place at the right time. Brian is the chair of the ocean and naval architectural engineering discipline and I had recently finished a term as the acting associate dean academic programs, so we both had the background and understanding necessary to make this finally happen,” said Prof. Coady.

Their determination to create an entrepreneurship offering for engineering students has paid off and ocean and naval architectural engineering students can begin their business education in spring 2009.

The Faculty of Engineering believes that the entrepreneurship stream will appeal to students.

“Many engineering students have taken business electives over the years, but we wanted to offer a more coherent set of courses,” explained Dr. Veitch. “The recent changes in the naval architectural engineering program have added flexibility to the program and it was the ideal time to capitalize on that and offer the entrepreneurship stream with the Faculty of Business.”

The courses, which range from accounting to marketing to new venture creation, are meant to foster an understanding of how business and engineering complement each other. “There are many examples of engineering students who have a business idea but lack the business skills to turn that idea into a commercial reality. These courses will give them that base to complement their technical engineering courses,” said Prof. Coady.

The new entrepreneurship stream for ocean and naval architectural engineering students is the first such offering for undergraduate engineering students.