Lehigh University
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New graduate program cited for talent development

John Ochs (left) and Michael Lehman (center) accept the UEDA Talent Development award UEDA president Chuck Shoopman. (Photo courtesy of the University Economic Development Association)

Lehigh’s Master’s of Technical Entrepreneurship (MTE) program has been honored by the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) as the best such program in North America for talent development.

The recognition came after a team of faculty members made a presentation about the MTE program at UEDA’s recent annual summit in Pittsburgh.

The MTE program trains students to create start-up companies and bring new products and services to market. The graduate program is offered by the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science and the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation.

UEDA, a national organization of more than 100 universities and their economic development affiliates, encourages economic development by promoting innovation, entrepreneurship and higher education partnerships.

UEDA gave 2013 Awards for Excellence in six categories at its summit. The Talent Development category recognized initiatives that promote development of 21st-century skills. Projects were judged on originality, sustainability, scalability and ability to be replicated.

Michael S. Lehman, MTE professor of practice, and John Ochs, MTE program director, gave the MTE presentation at the UEDA summit. Marc de Vinck, the Dexter F. Baker Professor of Practice in Creativity; Lisa Getzler-Linn, the Baker Institute’s senior director for programs and operations; and Bill Michalerya, associate vice president for government relations and economic development and past president of UEDA, helped prepare the presentation.

From passion to accomplishment

The MTE program has grown rapidly in popularity since launching in May 2012. The first contingent of 14 students completed the program in May 2013. Within three months of graduating, six students had started their own businesses and seven had taken jobs in industry or academia.

In May 2013, 28 more students enrolled in the program.

MTE attracts students from a wide variety of backgrounds. Its students have earned bachelor’s degrees in engineering, accounting, management, German, English, history, physics, behavioral neuroscience, political science, nanotechnology, global studies, journalism, psychology, finance, and art, architecture and design.

“This award is all about our students’ accomplishments,” said Ochs. “Our students embrace learning not because it’s required to get a grade or a diploma, but because our program gives each person, regardless of their undergraduate degree, the opportunity to explore and develop their passion, with the final result being a new product or the company needed to bring that product to market.

“When people follow their passion in a supportive environment, great accomplishments follow.”

“The UEDA award is a significant recognition for the MTE program, since the award is a competition for national best practices,” said Michalerya. “This puts Lehigh on a national stage in a leadership role.” It was Lehigh’s fourth win in the UEDA awards and fifth time being a finalist, he said.

Lehman, who gave another presentation at the UEDA summit, said the talent development award brought visibility to the MTE program among the college faculty and administrators in attendance.

“We are having an impact regionally with the entrepreneurs who are starting companies and staying in the region,” said Lehman. “We’re having a national impact as well. Students are using their talents as they are employed by startups, existing companies, academia, nonprofits and government.”

UEDA works to expand economic opportunity in communities by leveraging research, campus planning, community resources, talent development and technology commercialization. Its members represent higher education, private sector and community economic development stakeholders.

The MTE program is looking to double its enrollment again by in 2015, said Ochs.

“I am convinced that our model can and must be replicated at other universities in order to have the economic impact that follows student-led startups,” he said. “As I like to say: ‘Student innovation, fueled by creativity, is this generation’s most important economic development engine.’”

Story by Amy White

Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014

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