Academic Initiatives: New Modified Major and Ph.D. Innovation Program
Thayer School recently initiated two groundbreaking academic programs: an Engineering and Public Policy modified major for undergraduates and an Innovation Program for doctoral students.
Introduced in September, the Engineering and Public Policy modified major is a joint offering of Thayer School and Dartmouth’s Rockefeller Center. It combines engineering with areas of knowledge that are essential for policymaking, including economics, electronic journalism, ethics, governance issues, and policy analysis. The modified major is intended both for engineers who want to influence public policy and for students interested in public policy careers who want to boost their effectiveness by gaining a working understanding of technology. Thayer School Dean Joseph Helble, who spent a year in Washington as a science advisor in Senator Joe Lieberman’s office, is the advisor for engineering students pursuing the modified major.
Thayer School’s new Innovation Program offers Ph.D. candidates the entrepreneurial training they need to turn doctoral-level complex research into innovative applied technologies. It is the first such doctoral program in the nation.
Modifying Thayer’s doctoral curriculum — and adding about six months of work to it — the Innovation Program includes courses in new venture creation, finance, accounting, patent law, and organizational behavior, and provides students with the opportunity to complete a three- to six-month internship in a startup or other entrepreneurial enterprise. Thayer School anticipates adding five to six Ph.D. students a year to the Innovation Program, with the first new group beginning in Fall 2008.
The curriculum for the program got underway in September with the inauguration of ENGG 300: New Venture Creation, taught by former Thayer School dean and successful entrepreneur Charles Hutchinson. Modeled in part on Thayer’s signature project-centered introductory undergraduate course ENGS 21: Introduction to Engineering, New Venture Creation exposes students to the entire entrepreneurial process, from idea to prototype.
The new program addresses the nation’s growing need for people with both technical and entrepreneurial know-how. As pointed out in “Innovate America,” a 2004 report presented to the National Innovation Summit by the nonpartisan Council on Competitiveness, the nation’s technological and economic leadership depends on investment in the next generation of innovators.
Both the Innovation Program and the Engineering and Public Policy modified major reflect Thayer School’s commitment to serving humanity through engineering.
“Society needs more than technical skill from engineering graduates today,” says Dean Helble. “We need graduates with the ability to apply those skills to solve society’s most pressing problems in critical areas such as energy, communications, the environment, and medicine.”
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