Nathalie Duval-Couetil

Nathalie Duval-Couetil is director of the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program and associate director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. (Photo by Andrew Hancock)

Preparing Tomorrow’s Innovators

Electric cars and motorcycles, mobile applications for retail and industrial processes, solar-powered chargers — these are just a few of the products and technologies created by undergraduates who have participated in Purdue University’s Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program.

Launched in 2005 as part of the rollout of Discovery Park, the University’s interdisciplinary research complex, the program’s goal is to inspire undergraduate students in all disciplines to be innovators and leaders and to provide them with the knowledge and skills necessary to start and grow new ventures. The program was launched with a goal of having 1,000 students involved in three years. We reached that goal with more than 2,800 students completing the program’s introductory course; nearly 800 will have received the certificate by the end of this academic year.

Teaming students in engineering, technology, and science with those in business and the social sciences in pursuit of viable ventures and products was a rare model when we launched the program. Class projects and activities mimic the type of collaboration they will encounter in the real world, in both large and small companies. We weren’t sure this approach would appeal to students, however, students report that the multidisciplinary nature of the program is one of the aspects they like most. Purdue is really a pioneer in this area and other universities are seeking to emulate our model.

The program attracts students from every Purdue college and the diversity of majors involved grows every year. To complete the certificate students complete a series of five courses or experiential learning programs. Similar to a minor, students begin the program by the end of their sophomore year so they have sufficient time remaining in their academic programs to complete its requirements.

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