Education, Exposure, Experience

Published: Apr 17, 2006

Education, Exposure, Experience


While entrepreneurship may sound like a concept only studied in business school, at UMBC it is an important part of the university’s mission. “Faculty and students pushing the envelope in science and technology, breaking new ground in the creative arts or crafting new solutions to society’s problems can all be entrepreneurs,” said Vivian Armor, director of UMBC’s Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship and a UMBC alumna. “There are many ways you can help prepare yourself for entrepreneurship. You can study it, you can learn from other’s experiences and you can jump in and try it yourself. Our Center initiatives focus on all three of these key areas: education, exposure and experience.”

The Center, founded in 2000 through a generous gift of $1 million from The Alex. Brown Foundation, is infusing the entire university with the thinking and attitude, activities and ideas that inspire entrepreneurial accomplishment. During Entrepreneurship Week, which runs through April 7, it offers events that highlight programs available to both the UMBC and Baltimore business communities. The week kicks off at 12 p.m. Monday, April 3 with a lecture by two successful UMBC alumni entrepreneurs, Eli Eisenberg, founder and principal, Video Production Consulting, Inc., and Frank Taylor, president, The First Choice.

Many UMBC students are not waiting until graduation to start their own businesses. Supported by entrepreneurship courses, internships and other programs, as well as the student-run CEO Club, they are already achieving success. CEO Club members Wan His Yuan, a graduate student in information systems, and Jason Servary, a senior in financial economics, have created, the first online classified community for college students. The site now has 1500 registered users and receives about 4,000 page views per day. While they look for funding, Yuan and Servary are participating in the Alex. Brown Center’s IdeaLab at techcenter@UMBC, which offers support for faculty and students engaged in the start-up phase of high-technology companies by providing business advisement, mentoring and space.

Servary and Yuan recently won the UMBC Business Plan Competition and are currently one of 40 finalists (out of 174 entries) to participate in the annual Mosh Pit Business Plan Competition sponsored by the Greater Baltimore Technology Center. During Entrepreneurship Week, Servary, Yuan and other CEO Club business owners will pass on their skills and experience to fellow students in UMBC’s residence halls.

William LaCourse, professor of analytical chemistry and CEO Club advisor, believes that programs like the CEO Club support students across the disciplines. “Every great invention, movement, or accomplishment begins with a single idea that someone had the courage to put into action,” he said. “Entrepreneurism empowers an individual to act upon their idea, organize and manage its implementation, and carry it through even in the face of adversity.

“We all have within us the power to change the world, and the CEO Club is a much needed venue for students to meet and share ideas, hopes and aspirations. Members connect with successful entrepreneurs, practice the tools of success, and learn the art of invention. Whether a fledgling art gallery or an up-and-coming biotech start-up, the CEO Club allows our students to achieve their dreams,” LaCourse added.

One of the Center’s programs for UMBC faculty is a summer entrepreneurship institute that will focus on a different discipline each year. This summer, the Center will work with visual and performing arts departments to incorporate entrepreneurship into the curriculum, from designing new courses to adding new modules to existing classes. To set the stage for creative thinking, the Center and the Departments of Music and Theatre will host a lecture Thursday, April 6 by Michael Gelb, an internationally recognized pioneer in the fields of creative thinking, accelerated learning and innovative leadership. Gelb’s lecture, open to the entire UMBC community and the general public, will be held at 7 p.m. in the Fine Arts Recital Hall. On Friday, April 7, Anne Bogart, associate professor at Columbia University and director of the Saratoga International Theatre Institute, will speak at 8 p.m. in the UMBC Theatre. (For more information, call 410-455-2917.)

Creating and supporting entrepreneurship in the region is another important part of the Center’s mission. In addition to offering classes and seminars, the Center is one of the University’s partners in the ACTiVATE program, funded by the National Science Foundation and designed to address the unique needs of women interested in starting technology companies. ACTiVATE is now in its second year and four women in the program are now heading up their own tech companies, including Mona S. Jhaveri Brown, whose Foligo LCC recently took up residence at techcenter@UMBC.

For more information on the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship, visit








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