NEW ALBANY – For the first time, Indiana University Southeast and Purdue Polytechnic New Albany have joined together to offer students a joint certification.
The two public universities are offering a 15-credit hour entrepreneurial certificate, allowing students to tap into the strengths of each institution.
On Wednesday, IUS Chancellor Ray Wallace and Andy Schaffer, associate dean for Purdue Polytechnic Statewide, formally signed off on the partnership in front of faculty and supporters at the IUS campus.
At Purdue Polytechnic, students will learn how to design and develop products, and study computer graphics technology and electrical engineering technology.
At IUS, students will take courses on business, management and marketing needed to start a business and grow it.
The partnership has been a “germ of an idea that’s been kicked around for a long time” according to David Eplion, dean of the School of Business for IUS.
It wasn’t until about two years ago that the two institutions came together and really started working on it, he explained.
“We brought in some faculty that had some real expertise in the area and that probably was the real catalyst that got it moving. They had expertise and a passion in the area of entrepreneurship,” Eplion said.
Schaffer and Wallace both said they had no doubts about the program when it was proposed.
“When you think about putting these groups of students together… the Purdue students are largely engineering, they’re studying innovation, coming up with products and prototypes and things like that. The business students [at IUS] they’re very good at putting together a business plan, the entrepreneurial principals and getting deeper …. If you can get those groups together, it’s only a matter of time before graduates of this program get together and form a business and plant it here locally, which will be good for them and good for the economy and will really prove the value of the certificate,” Schaffer said.
“This will be a nice program that will attract some pretty innovative people and will lead to jobs, which is what we’re about,” Wallace added.
Bryce Butler, speaker during Wednesday’s event, works with entrepreneurs often. As managing partner of Louisville-based Access Ventures, his job is to work with individuals who need investors to get their businesses off the ground or help them grow. Butler said the higher ed collaboration brings “unbelievable value” to the region.
“There is no one institution or person or organization that can figure out the best way to support entrepreneurs in our area, so to have two institutions of higher learning come together... for the sake of developing entrepreneurs and business owners of the future, it’s pretty cool,” he said.
To Butler, too often people envision an entrepreneur as a white male in a suit and tie when in reality anyone can, and should, be an entrepreneur.
“Entrepreneurship is all about problem solving through market solutions. When you think about a community, there are multiple community problems that everyday Americans face. What I would love to see is entrepreneurs inspired to look at the community around them and figure out innovative, market-based solutions to solving those problems,” Butler said.
Schaffer, Wallace and Eplion each explained that the certification is not meant for any one business model or product type.
“The program does not have any preconceptions about the types of entrepreneurs it will produce... There’s no bias, this really is a formal building block for developing great new entrepreneurship,” Wallace said.
“We don’t want students to think it’s pigeonholed for someone that wants to start an engineering company or technology company. That’s not the case at all. These skills are applicable across many careers and many industries,” Schaffer said.