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Lehigh's entrepreneurs make an impression

Lehigh made its mark recently when the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) held its Open 2013 meeting in Washington, D.C.

The national conference, which attracted more than 300 people, featured an unprecedented seven presentations by Lehigh faculty, staff and alumni.

NCIIA supports technology entrepreneurship in higher education by providing funding and training to faculty and student innovators to help them commercialize their ideas. The organization has members from almost 200 colleges and universities nationwide.

“NCIIA has long recognized our programs, faculty and students as models of their mission,” said Lisa Getzler-Linn, director of administration and programs for Lehigh’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation.

“At this year’s conference, the Lehigh contingent was the largest showing we had to date. We were pleased that our work was so prominently recognized and showcased by the organization.”

Lehigh’s presentations included:

•    "E-Team" Alumni Panel—EcoTech Marine co-founder Patrick Clasen ‘04, ‘07G and other successful former NCIIA student teams shared their experiences. Since its launch a decade ago as a Lehigh Integrated Product Development class project, EcoTech Marine has been included in Inc. 500’s list of fastest-growing companies in America and in Newsweek’s top 10 companies that grew from college ideas.

•    “The Melting Pot: An Emerging Model in Graduate-Level Entrepreneurship Education”—A presentation on Lehigh’s new master’s degree in Technical Entrepreneurship. The cross-disciplinary professional program admits students from all academic backgrounds and creates a melting pot of experiences, skills and aspirations. (Getzler-Linn and John Ochs, director, and Michael Lehman, professor of practice, in the Technical Entrepreneurship program)

•    “The Gender Data: What Are We Going To Do About It?”—This presentation proposed solutions to the low numbers of female students, faculty and inventors working as entrepreneurs and receiving patents. (Getzler-Linn, Nathalie Duval-Couetil of Purdue University and Khanjan Mehta of Pennsylvania State University)

•    “USPTO: Useful Information for Inventors”—A keynote address by Bruce Kisliuk ‘81, who earned a B.S. in chemical engineering before joining the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where he is deputy commissioner for patent administration.

•    “Nifty Assignments in Entrepreneurship Education”—A presentation on assignments that are easy to adopt, relevant, thought-provoking and fun for students and teachers. (Lehman and Trexler Proffitt and Clif Kussmaul of Muhlenberg College)

•    “An Insider’s Perspective on Entrepreneurial Program Development at a Small and a Large Institution”—A presentation on case studies of two universities—a private liberal arts institution and a large state-related research university—that introduced new entrepreneurship programs: What worked, challenges, failures and lessons. (Lehman)

•    “Epicenter/PA: Piloting a Regional Epicenter Cluster”—A poster on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs in 15 Pennsylvania colleges and universities, including Lehigh, that promote the entrepreneurial potential of undergraduate students. (Ochs and Liz Kisenwether of Pennsylvania State University)

“NCIIA is the flagship international organization for student innovators and universities who are developing programs for student innovation and tech entrepreneurship,” said Todd Watkins, Arthur F. Searing Professor of Economics in Lehigh’s College of Business and Economics and executive director of the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation.

“It’s humbling that our colleagues around the country are interested in highlighting the programs we are working on.”

Lehigh has been part of the fabric of NCIIA since it began in 1995. The organization has awarded more than $340,900 in grants to Lehigh students and faculty to develop new programs, products and businesses.

In 2006, Ochs, who is also a professor of mechanical engineering and director of Lehigh’s Integrated Product Development program, won the NCIIA/Olympus Innovation Award recognizing individuals who promote and demonstrate innovative thinking in education.

Earlier this year, NCIIA awarded a $5,000 grant to ChallTech, a mobile applications company founded by Chris Hall ‘13, to develop the business. Since 1997, 13 Lehigh student teams representing 61 students have received funding through 16 NCIIA grants.

Lehigh’s attendance at the NCIIA conference in March also included Marc de Vinck, the Dexter F. Baker Professor of Practice in Creativity in the Technical Entrepreneurship program; Mark Orrs, director of sustainable development and professor of practice in the department of political science; and Dale F. Falcinelli ‘70 ‘72G, professor of practice in the College of Business and Economics and director of entrepreneurship immersion programs.

Photos courtesy of the Baker Institute
Posted on Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Michael Lehman, professor of practice in Lehigh’s Technical Entrepreneurship master’s degree program, gave three presentations at NCIIA Open 2013, on the TE program, on innovative entrepreneurship assignments and on a case study of entrepreneurship programs at two universities.
“It’s humbling that our colleagues around the country are interested in highlighting the programs we are working on.”—Todd Watkins, executive director of the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation
Patrick Clasen ‘04 ‘07G, co-founder of EcoTech Marine, spoke at NCIIA as a member of the organization’s most successful student entrepreneurship teams.
Lisa Getzler-Linn, director of administration and programs for the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation, told the NCIIA audience about gender trends in entrepreneurship.
John Ochs, director of Lehigh’s Integrated Product Development and Technical Entrepreneurship programs, was honored by NCIIA at its 2006 conference as an innovative educator. At this year’s conference, he discussed the TE program as a new model of graduate education and also talked about the creation of a regional STEM cluster of Pennsylvania colleges.
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