Engineering students at Ryerson University in Toronto will soon be able to become entrepreneurs.
The university announced today that its Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science (FEAS) is launching a new specialization program for students who want to pursue entrepreneurship as a career option.
The Optional Specialization in Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OSEIE), which will be available to students starting in May, will reportedly allow them to “learn the skills necessary to start a business venture,” according to a statement from Ryerson.
“The specialization will appeal to undergraduate engineering students who have a passion for entrepreneurship,” says Michael Forbes, a spokesperson for Ryerson. Either, they “want the opportunity to start their own company, or work at a company where entrepreneurship is valued, while earning their undergraduate degree.”
In addition to their regular degree program, students will be able to enroll in extra courses through the specialization.
Forbes explains that OSEIE courses will cover the principles of engineering economics, entrepreneurship and innovation management, and technology-based new venture creation. “The practicum courses mirror the three-stage technology commercialization process: business concept identification, market and technology development, and business development and market readiness.”
“The OSEIE will not only teach students the structure, content and style of a business plan. It will support them as they write and re-write their own [plan],” says Liping Fang, associate dean of undergraduate programs and student affairs at the FEAS. “Students will also receive hands-on support to develop the technical skills required to refine prototypes. [They] will learn to create business, marketing and technology development plans that reflect the lifecycle of the company growth.”
Forbes notes that the program isn’t necessarily to teach entrepreneurship per se, but rather “to make it possible for students to walk the path that entrepreneurs normally travel.”
The new program will prepare students to launch and sustain successful Canadian companies themselves.
“Awareness of concepts in entrepreneurship and innovation are valuable skills for any student entering the work force,” Fang says.
Engineering students having entrepreneurial interests isn’t new at Ryerson. Forbes reports that a few of them have claimed space in the Digital Media Zone (DMZ), Ryerson’s startup incubator, to develop their ideas.
For instance, biomedical engineering students Michal Prywata and Thiago Caires founded Bionik Laboratories, a medical engineering research and development startup, focused on prosthetics and rehabilitation devices. The duo recently patented exoskeleton legs for rehabilitation and assistive mobility. Similarly, fellow biomedical engineering student Peyman Moeini co-founded Peytec, a wireless communication-based solutions provider.
Ryerson notes that “the OSEIE creates a link between Ryerson’s successful models of student-driven innovation, as demonstrated by the DMZ and FEAS’ accredited engineering curricula.”
And for engineering students who have the entrepreneurial spirit, like Prywata, Caires and Moeini, Forbes says that “this program will make entrepreneurship a more central part of their program.”
Ryerson anticipates enrolment in the OSEIE to be about 70 to 80 undergraduate engineering students in the first year, and about 200 students by the third year. Students can start applying next month to begin the program in May.