The College of Engineering emphasizes the value of the practical application of lessons learned in the classroom. Who better, then, to oversee the Engineering Entrepreneurship minor program than a real-life engineering entrepreneur? Ed Dougherty, President and CEO of Ablaze Development and Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has taken the helm of the program as interim director for this academic year.
“In addition to teaching students basic business skills, the minor also allows students to maximize their creativity, develop problem-solving skills, and identify new opportunities,” says Professor Dougherty, who offers students insights from his own nearly 30-year career as an entrepreneur. At Ablaze Development Corporation, founded in 1984, Professor Dougherty develops leading edge technology in the fields of computer science, electronics, and robotics for the transportation and entertainment industries.
Designed in collaboration by the College of Engineering and the Villanova School of Business (VSB), the Engineering Entrepreneurship minor, now in its third year, exposes students to business concepts within an engineering context, with classes taught by faculty from the College and VSB, as well as guest lectures by successful entrepreneurs. The program culminates with the opportunity for students to work in teams to develop and launch a new business, service, or product.
For the first time, the minor is fully populated with sophomore, junior, and senior students enrolled, and the first cohort of engineering entrepreneurial students will graduate this spring. “Now that the minor has been rolled out to all eligible classes, my main goal is to attract ‘real life’ entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs to become more involved with the students and help fine-tune the curriculum,” says Professor Dougherty.
With help from alumni and friends in the entrepreneurial community, Professor Dougherty hopes to add value to the student experience. “Our students can learn concepts very quickly, but it is far more difficult to understand how the concepts can be applied to build a successful business,” he says. “I believe involving entrepreneurs through guest lectures, field trips, mentorships, internships, competitions, and one-on-one contact will help students obtain new perspectives that will help them achieve their own life goals.”
Beyond relationships, Professor Dougherty sees the goals for the minor as similar to the goals of any successful business:
For more information about the minor, or to find out how you or your company can get involved, contact Professor Dougherty at Edmond.J.Dougherty@villanova.edu.