Penn State launches new entrepreneurship and innovation minor

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- For undergraduate students interested in coming up with the next great idea or becoming their own boss, a new Penn State minor could help them achieve their dreams.

Approved by the University's Board of Trustees in July and available at the start of the fall semester, the Intercollege Minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ENTI) offers students the opportunity to explore their entrepreneurial side, regardless of their academic major.

"It's for any student who is interested in entrepreneurship and wants to learn more," said Liz Kisenwether, the minor's director and an assistant professor in the School of Engineering Design, Technology and Professional Programs.

Robert Pangborn, vice president and dean for undergraduate education at Penn State and professor of engineering mechanics, said, "This is truly a unique model for entrepreneurship education. As an intercollege program, the ENTI minor was built from the ground up through interdisciplinary collaboration to emphasize broader participation of Penn State students in the exciting domains of innovation and creative ventures."

"The new intercollege minor has a set of core courses that all students in the minor take, then clusters of courses to distinguish the aspect of entrepreneurship they wish to pursue," explained Renata Engel, associate dean of academic programs in the College of Engineering.

Kisenwether said every student in the minor will take three core courses totaling nine credits: Entrepreneurial Mindset, Entrepreneurial Leadership and New Venture Creation. After that, students can pursue one of five areas of emphasis -- or clusters -- to complete the program.

"The minor is open in such a way to let a student follow passions that aren't in their major," she stated.

Each cluster is led by an academic college or program, but students may pursue whichever one interests them the most.

Engel said, "We know that innovation and entrepreneurship do not reside with a particular field and we can help students develop knowledge and skills to pursue entrepreneurial approaches regardless of discipline."

The clusters and their academic colleges are Food and Bio-Innovation (Agricultural Sciences), New Venture (Business), New Media (Communications), Social Entrepreneurship (Engineering) and Technology-Based Entrepreneurship (Engineering).

Students in the Food and Bio-Innovation cluster will learn to address opportunities and challenges in the agriculture and life sciences field.

The New Ventures cluster will help students develop the skills and ways of thinking required to create, develop, innovate and manage entrepreneurial companies.

The New Media cluster will allow students to specialize in the creation and distribution of news, entertainment and information.

Students in the Social Entrepreneurship cluster will focus on creating sustainable social impact with marginalized communities.

The Technology-Based Entrepreneurship cluster will help students develop the skills and knowledge through a practical entrepreneurial experience in a technology-based environment.

Each cluster requires a minimum of nine credits of coursework.

Kisenwether said additional clusters are being planned, including ones from the colleges of Arts and Architecture, Science and Information Sciences and Technology, as well as the School of Hospitality Management and Penn State Berks.

Although the ENTI minor is new to Penn State, the University has taught a number of entrepreneurship courses over the years, including the Engineering Entrepreneurship minor that was established in 2002.

Kisenwether said students currently enrolled in the College's Engineering Entrepreneurship minor have the option of completing the existing minor or transitioning their credits to the new ENTI minor.

For more on the ENTI program, contact Liz Kisenwether at 814-863-1531 or at exk13@psu.edu.

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Last Updated September 10, 2013