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Entrepreneurship Education: Should Entrepreneurship 101 Be Compulsory?

Posted on Monday, Feb 23rd 2009

Following up on my last Forbes column highlighting the brain drain from technology to finance, let me ask the readers an important question: Should Entrepreneurship 101 be compulsory for all science and engineering students in college, and early on, to be completed by the end of the freshman year?

I believe students should be exposed to technology entrepreneur role models as early in their development as possible. Your thoughts?

This segment is a part in the series : Entrepreneurship Education

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simply put, yes

Richard Stump Monday, February 23, 2009 at 3:28 PM PT

It is an interesting thought, but I do not think most people are cut out or even interested in being an entrepreneur. If the class can be shaped to teach “succeeding as an employee”, then possibly. I do know that many things I have learned as an entrepreneur have helped me in going back to work in the corporate world, but it depends on what is being taught, and what you career goals are.

Jon Monday, February 23, 2009 at 5:18 PM PT

I agree that students should be exposed to technology entrepreneur role models as early in their development as possible. However I don’t think it should be made compulsory. Making it another course will make it routine and perhaps boring. But if students are exposed to entrepreneurial role models early in their careers, I am sure most of them will be positively enthused.

Bhalchander

Bhalchander Vishwanath Monday, February 23, 2009 at 5:33 PM PT

I think they should be required to do a term project of starting a business(tech or non-tech) before they take entrepreneurship 101 and access to technepreneurs. Of-course all this should be voluntary. People don’t have experience thrust upon them not wisdom. One should be ready and willing to seek and accept wisdom. (Wow, toooooo fortune cookie of me)

Suman Karthik Monday, February 23, 2009 at 10:50 PM PT

hehehe sorry I meant to write “people have experience thrust upon them”

Suman Karthik Monday, February 23, 2009 at 10:52 PM PT

If we are talking about bringing motivation to the students early in their life, to become entrepreneurs by exposing them to the successful entrepreneurs, surely it will have a good impact. However, there must be a list of subjects they study as part of entrepreneurship training like finance, marketing, sales, business plan, dos and don’ts, different funding models, an understanding on estimating the cost of making an idea to be successful, the key areas to focus etc. (I believe Sramana had published a check list of such things before once)

I believe this can be an optional set of courses in parallel with their regular science/engineering courses as the basic science and engineering courses themselves struggle with the limitation of available time to teach the students properly and master them in those areas. Not going into the discussion on how much useful to know thermodynamics very well if one wants to become an entrepreneur in some IT product company, I believe we don’t have enough time for the students to take addition burden without revisiting the subject areas currently covered.
Why don’t we have a full semester post graduation program once the students finish their science and engineering courses? Or summer/winter courses for the students whoever is interested.

Santanu Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 12:15 AM PT

It is definitely a good idea though it might not have to be made compulsory.

But talking about tech. entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship is not the same as tech. entrepreneurship. In India, I get dismayed by
IIT BTech comp. science students becoming entrepreneurs doing placements!!! And they have a tough time because the placement field is over crowded. Nor do they use much of what they have learnt. Instead, if they did say go for a master’s and then venture out into a more techy. entrepreneurship field, they could use their strengths better.

I believe we need more Master’s and Phds in tech areas to solve the tougher problems of tomorrow and make big money! Along with entrepreneurship, deeper tech. skills are important. Many interesting problems can’t be solved by superficial skills; one need serious long term perseverance.

regards,
Samir

Samir Kelekar Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 6:57 AM PT

Why limit such a course to science and engineering majors? Whether or not one pursues a career in the start-up world, I think enterprise literacy should be part of any liberal education… which I would argue makes for better citizens, to say nothing of maybe catalyzing more entrepreneurship.

In addition, I think that entrepreneurship brings a practical real world approach to solving problems via market mechanisms. Perhaps that is why some academics might be hostile to your idea, Sramana.

Mike Snyder Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 7:44 PM PT

I do believe that all students should have a better understanding of business and economics. There should be a survey class to introduce the issues. It would also make sense for science and engineering students to have an understanding of the a company’s market. Often engineering and marketing not on the same page. Every engineer should have a real understanding of markets in general and their company’s market in particular.

Should your most recent alma mater offer “Entrepreneurship 101″ and require every student to take it? Absolutely. It would encourage graduates to look for opportunities and make better decisions both in startups and inside corporations. I am confident it would be much more valuable than solid state chemistry, freshman requirement.

Ken Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 7:43 PM PT

Instead of 'Entrepreneurship 101' being offered to all students, I would like to see state sponsored support for good idea's across the board. Entrepreneurship is like photography, everyone can have a qualification, but only a few can make something really wonderful. By supporting good idea's in all educational / vocational fields we can ensure that our collective intellect is best developed into marketable products.

Colin Hall Monday, July 16, 2012 at 6:37 AM PT