Blending STEM with enterprise
City University London’s BEng in Engineering with Management and Entrepreneurship in the School of Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering, has been successfully running for the past five years.
This undergraduate programme presents students with a core mix of fundamental engineering courses and applications with topics in management and entrepreneurship, equipping them with valuable transferable skills such as employability, articulateness, creativity and innovation.
In response to positive feedback from students regarding the need for more entrepreneurial course content, SMCSE’s staff in consort with the Cass Business School-based Student Enterprise Unit, have embedded the teaching of entrepreneurship in the three years of the programme. The present 2015/16 Academic Year has also ushered in a new and innovative curriculum.
Diana Martinez Cleves, currently studying on the course, says it has
been of great value to her career aspirations. “Over the past three years, I have taken modules from different schools
and feel that there are many sectors which an EME graduate has the possibility
of going into after graduating. More importantly though, I feel that the
multidisciplinary nature of the course has enabled me to develop a range of
transferable skills which employers in all fields value greatly. I am hoping to
work in auditing when I graduate and I believe the analytical and innovative
skills I have developed throughout this course will help me enter a graduate
SMCSE Visiting Lecturer, Peter Roberts, thinks that despite the clamour for and popularity of entrepreneurship in recent times, degree offerings at many universities in the UK, including City, do not reflect this trend:
“Despite our enviable location and connections with industry and innovation, City’s BEng programme is the only one with ‘Entrepreneurship’ in the title out of over 200 programmes. In contrast, entrepreneurship programmes abound in America, either standing-alone or in association with a range of disciplines such as engineering, technology, business, medicine and social enterprise.”
Managing business projects
City’s BEng in Engineering with Management and Entrepreneurship, first of all, offers a theoretical component. It tells the students how entrepreneurship has evolved as a discipline. Also, it allows the students to learn what is actually happening, by critically evaluating existing knowledge and resources and by busting some of the myths about entrepreneurship, understanding why an enterprise has failed or why a brand or idea has become successful.
Secondly, the degree programme creates a learning environment that encourages the development of entrepreneurial behaviour in our students both now and in the future. As part of the curriculum, they attend student enterprise entrepreneurship seminars conducted by entrepreneurs from the business world, network with other like-minded students from across the university, and eventually prepare a business plan as part of the assessment for the module.
For Roberts, the simple answer to the question, ‘Can you teach someone to be an entrepreneur?’ is probably ‘no’.
“There is, however, defendable evidence to assert that entrepreneurship can be taught much like any discipline. That said, it is not necessarily ‘natural’, it is not merely ‘creative’, it is ‘work’ ".
Course leader, Dr Arti Agrawal, who is also a Lecturer in Photonics says:
“This unique degree programme helps train engineer-managers for the challenges of large-scale projects put there in the world of industry. Whether it is the delivery of natural gas pipelines, hybrid vehicles or solutions to transport problems, the course imparts a sound technical engineering base and essential skills to be entrepreneurial and to manage business projects.”
Alex Elkins, SMCSE’s Enterprise Education Manager reinforces the point:
“This is a great new venture for us and by introducing the engineers to our Bootstrap seminars, they will have expert advice and tips on how to start a business, take risks, solve problems, be creative and develop sound businesses. Being an entrepreneur isn’t just about starting a business, it encompasses a much broader range of skills that are applied in many sectors; technology, engineering and healthcare to name a few.”
Someone who exercises initiative by organizing a venture to take benefit of an opportunity and, as the decision maker, decides what, how, and how much of a good or service will be produced. An entrepreneur supplies risk capital as a risk taker, and monitors and controls the business activities. The entrepreneur is usually a sole proprietor, a partner, or the one who owns the majority of shares in an incorporated venture.