From the moment a student changemaker arrives on campus, Penn State’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is ready to support their passions and ambitions. Through the Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ENTI) minor and the Lion LaunchPad Special Living Option (SLO) student innovators find their tribe and participate in engaging courses and experiences that help them develop a problem-solving and value creation mindset. Some students start their own business, others use the skills they develop to create social change or become innovative employees.
“The ENTI minor supports first years through seniors from any major who want to develop an entrepreneurial mindset to solve all types of problems – social problems, political problems, business problems, or non-profit problems,” said Anne Hoag, the co-director of Lion LaunchPad and director of the ENTI minor. “Entrepreneurs and innovators exist in all industries and in all types of organizations. We teach skills that will help in any career – innovative thinking and leadership, and management and planning tools.”
The ENTI minor is made up of three core courses (Entrepreneurial Mindset, Entrepreneurial Leadership, and New Venture Creation), plus a “cluster” of three or four additional courses based on their area of interest, for example Arts Entrepreneurship, Digital Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Entrepreneurship as Advocacy, Food and Bio-Innovation, Hospitality Management, New Media, New Ventures, Social Entrepreneurship, and Technology Based Entrepreneurship.
Sophomore Kelly Hyland, an elementary education major with a double minor in Special Education and ENTI with a focus in Advocacy pursued the ENTI minor to gain a new perspective on the world and to find ways to improve our education system to be more inclusive of all students. “In the future, I hope to open a non-profit and implement policies in order to better innovate our education system,” Hyland said.
There are more than 750 students from 75 different majors enrolled in an entrepreneurial minor or major at Penn State. The entrepreneurship and innovation minor can be completed in full at the University Park, Abington, Beaver, and Berks campuses. The entrepreneurship minor is available at Penn State Altoona, World Campus, and the Graham Center at Penn State York. If a student is looking to go “all in,” Penn State offers the corporate innovation and entrepreneurship major at any Penn State campus and there is a Bachelor of Science in Business track in entrepreneurship.
A group of ENTI students recently spent spring break in Israel. Known for its large number of technology, science, medicine, and other startups, Israel has earned the moniker “startup nation.” The ENTI group was able to visit Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva and locations in the Negev, where they toured startups and accelerators and met with founders, venture capitalists and policymakers, experiencing the front lines of entrepreneurship firsthand.
“The exposure to a different culture and the ability to see how it is innovating is an invaluable eye-opening experience for students,” said Hoag. “For students who can’t do a semester abroad, an international 10-day trip can put a student on the path to becoming a global citizen.”
ENTI is made possible through the support of administrators, advisers and friends who support entrepreneurship education such as Penn State Information Technology, Penn State Teaching and Learning with Technology, the Schreyer Institute, Career Services, the Penn State Libraries, Students Affairs, Invent Penn State and the innovation hubs and LaunchBoxes.
On-campus students also may participate in Lion LaunchPad Special Living Option (SLO). Located in the North Halls residence hall complex in 009 Leete, the Lion LaunchPad can house up to 20 full-time first and second year students who enjoy planned activities, direct access to university-wide programs like Startup Week and Global Entrepreneurship Week, support from a network of faculty and mentors, as well as use of its in-house maker space. Lion LaunchPad resources and mentorship enables students to develop ideas, solutions, products and services and turn them into viable ventures.
Linda Feltman, a faculty member in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, is the faculty associate for the Lion LaunchPad SLO. She considers herself the connector, linking students in the SLO with the resources they need.
Students may come to her looking for a mentor in a specialized field, have an interest in helping plan a student event or just need some advice on what the next steps should be with their business ideas. She guides them through those issues and more. This past year Lion LaunchPad SLO welcomed speakers, went on field trips and planned the Startup Mixer during Global Entrepreneurship Week. “It’s been a great experience working with freshmen and sophomores who choose this SLO because of their interest in entrepreneurship and innovation.”
Last month, they organized Startup Week’s Startup Market event which connected students to more than 30 resources, mentor networks and startups and participated in HackPSU as a sponsor. They had a busy spring unpacking a variety of new equipment for their makerspace; from sorting through the components to assemble their own high-end computer to attending a makerspace workshop on how to use their new sewing machine to setting up a microphone and sound proofing materials for podcasting, these students have come together as community.
This spring the Lion LaunchPad SLO also will be unpacking some new equipment in their makerspace, including components to build a customized PC, an HTC Vive virtual reality system for avatar creation and exploration, microphone and sound proofing materials for podcasting, cameras, a green screen and lighting to create videos. The group will host an open house once it’s all setup.
Lion LaunchPad SLO is made possible by support from The Center for Penn State Student Entrepreneurship in the Office of Undergraduate Education, Penn State Teaching and Learning with Technology, and the Invent Penn State initiative.
For more information about ENTI, visit https://www.enti.psu.edu or contact Anne Hoag at ENTI@psu.edu. To learn about and apply for Lion LaunchPad SLO for Fall 2019, visit http://lionlaunchpad.psu.edu.