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Lehigh University Master’s Program Helps Students Develop Entrepreneurial Mindset

By Colin McEvoy on August 12, 2022

Brandon Paetzell and James Davis both graduated from the Lehigh M. Eng. in Technical Entrepreneurship 2022 program in May. (photo courtesy Lehigh University)

Lehigh University graduate Jessie Garcia is the founder and CEO of Tozuda, an impact sensor manufacturing company that develops head impact sensors that can be attached to football or hockey player helmets and detect whether an impact that could indicate a serious head inquiry has occurred.

And it all started at Lehigh’s technical entrepreneurship program.

While participating in the program, Garcia developed her signature HEX sensor, a passive measuring device that works without electronics to detect when force thresholds have been exceeded. That eventually led to the formation of her Pennsylvania-based company.

“Having an idea is one thing,” said Garcia, who graduated from Lehigh University’s Master of Engineering in Technical Entrepreneurship (TE) program in 2013. “Translating it into a product is something else entirely. That’s where the TE program comes in.”

Now entering its 11th year, Lehigh University’s M.Eng. in Technical Entrepreneurship is a multi-disciplinary program that welcomes students from a variety of engineering, science, business, and design backgrounds to help them develop an entrepreneurial mindset.

A virtual open house was held for the program on Aug. 9, during which organizers discussed how the program provides students opportunities to build prototypes, interact in the creativity and innovation lab, and take classes in the collaborative, IP-protected classroom.

“The goal is to help you master a new skill set as an innovative, creative problem-solver, taking creative ideas and reducing them to practice,” said Dr. Michael Lehman, Director of the M.Eng. in Technical Entrepreneurship program and Professor of Practice in Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics.

“After graduation one can launch a new venture, join the team of a startup or family enterprise, innovate at a larger corporation via product or business development, or support the innovation ecosystem with roles in industry, government, and education,” Lehman said.

Applications to participate in the 11-month program can be submitted on Sept. 1 for classes that begin July 5, 2023. Students with any undergraduate degree by the start of classes can apply. Visit here to apply or for more information.

Alumni of the program hail from a from a wide variety of engineering backgrounds such as mechanical, electrical, civil, bio, industrial, chemical, computer, and aerospace, Lehman said. Students also come from natural science backgrounds such as physics, biology and neuroscience, as well as degrees in business, design, and the social sciences.

“The assignments in the graduate program are forward-looking and career-focused,” Lehman said.

The curriculum starts with courses in skill-building, creativity, intellectual property, prototyping and visual thinking, before moving on to courses in integrated product development and entrepreneurship, with an underpinning of project courses throughout the year in which students work on a project in an industry of their choice.

“Students come to the program with three different mindsets,” Lehman said. “They may already have a venture or idea they want to grow, they may have an industry they’d like to explore, or they may just have lots of ideas and want to figure out what’s next in their career journey.”

The underlying premise of the program includes experiential learning: professors who are embedded in industry, class excursions that involve “learning by doing,” live case studies, and collaborations with other entrepreneurial organizations and Lehigh University departments, Lehman said.

These include [email protected], Lehigh’s Office of Creative Inquiry, the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity & Innovation, the Office of Technology Transfer and virtual collaborations through Lehigh’s Office of International Affairs, he said.

Based in the Wilbur Powerhouse on Lehigh University’s campus, the M.Eng. in Technical Entrepreneurship was previously recognized with an Award of Excellence in Talent Development by the University Economic Development Association (UDEA).

The next M.Eng. in Technical Entrepreneurship event will be an in-person Open House held in the lower level of the Wilbur Powerhouse on Wednesday, September 14, at 7:00pm – advance registration is requested here.

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