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Member News: C.C. Eship / NACCE Journal Summer/Fall 2008

Entrepreneurship: Entrance to the Academic World and Beyond

Thursday, January 14, 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
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An open access, two-year institution, Howard Community College provides services to a culturally, socially, and economically diverse student body. These students, whose ages span from 16 to well over 60, are at varied levels of preparation, confidence, motivation and focus. At Howard Community College our belief is that entrepreneurship develops many of the requisite aptitudes and attitudes desired by organizations today. Therefore our entrepreneurship program seeks to help students to identify their entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial potential, and then to discover and engage those talents with the academic, research, and business communities. We think about entrepreneurship as taking a creative idea and turning it into an opportunity. As Socrates said, "Wisdom begins in wonder.” We want students to see the world and wonder: introspectively, about their talents, interests, and abilities, and outwardly, about what the community needs. We want students to discover their potential as they wonder how they might fit into academic and business worlds.

Accordingly, the entrepreneurship program at Howard Community College embraces development of students and their ideas in many different ways. One such way is under the auspices of the National Science Foundation, where the college is collaborating with local research labs, businesses and the public schools to expand the region’s innovation infrastructure, speed the transfer of knowledge from national research laboratories to the private sector and enhance entrepreneurial education to diverse traditional and non-traditional high school and college students. The course, associated with the National Science Foundation Grant, is "Taking Innovation to Market.” It is a three-credit course that provides the student with an idea in the form of an invention and teaches them to look for and use opportunity.

During the course, students study patents, technology marketing, licensing, and careers in science, technology, research and business through a multimodal variety of activities designed to appeal to learners with different learning styles. During the second phase of the course, students work in teams to apply their knowledge. Each team is given an innovation developed by a local United States Government (USG) research laboratory. Teams analyze the innovations, conduct feasibility investigations, and then design marketing plans for the inventions. These technology assessments are compiled and presented in an open event attended by students, researchers, faculty, prospective entrepreneurs, local businesses, venture capitalists, and technology transfer experts. Written reports are provided to attendees and USG laboratories.

A second course, "Entrepreneurship and Creativity,” is designed for a learning community of students ages 18 through 22 who have potential, but for a variety of reasons including low socio-economic status and family challenges, have yet to achieve at a level commensurate with their abilities. Students meet twice weekly with an instructor who maintains contact with program administrators and counselors who work with students on successful student strategies as well as inter- and intra-personal experiences. The goal of the course is to remove some of the barriers that block self esteem, and to channel energy in a positive way all while educating students in the business of starting a business. Attention is also given to public speaking and written communication, leadership and teamwork. This is all done through development, discussion and an oral presentation of an entrepreneurial concept of the student’s choosing. The semester culminates with an opportunity for the student to pitch their business concept in front of an audience of business people from the community at our semi-annual Entrepreneurship Celebration.

Creativity and the opportunity to experiment and experience frame entrepreneurship at Howard Community College. The two courses described here are examples of the way that people develop to their greater potential and open new doors for themselves while a student here.

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