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Silicon Valley program ‘a life-changing experience’

Today might be the first official day of classes for the spring semester, but for a group of 56 students, the academic semester started more than a week ago. The students, a combined group of undergraduates and MBA students, traveled to California for a new, week-long experiential program called LehighSiliconValley.

Hosted by the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation, the students were given an opportunity to explore all-things entrepreneurship in the heart of Silicon Valley.

“It’s a bit like a study abroad program in the foreign country of Silicon Valley,” explains Todd Watkins, director of the Baker Institute and professor of economics.

Students from across Lehigh’s three undergraduate colleges and representing a variety of majors were invited to meet with some of the biggest players in the Silicon Valley area, including CEOs, founders of tech start-ups, design engineers, venture capital investors and lawyers. The experience gave them insight into how venture-backed companies thrive and die.

Most days started off with a “live case” where teams of students had the opportunity to hear CEOs share candid behind-the-scenes views of their businesses, their strategies and their vision. The students, in turn, analyzed the information and provided their findings to the CEO in a very open, honest dialogue. Later in the day, the students heard from investors of the same company they were analyzing.

“This was a life-changing experience. We learned in a week what couldn’t be replicated in a 15-week semester,” says accounting major LeVaughn Nesbitt ’13, as the trip concluded in San Francisco.

Learn how LehighSiliconValley unfolded by visiting Lehigh on Location: The Silicon Valley Experience.

Photo by Christa Neu

Posted on Monday, January 16, 2012
After a lengthy discussion with Steve Boord from Global Fresh Foods, students in the Silicon Valley program broke out into groups to answer some weighty questions about how they would steer the company on everything from supply chain to branding.
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