Stanford University

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NEWS RELEASE

1/5/96

CONTACT: Stanford University News Service (415) 723-2558
e-mail david.salisbury@forsythe.stanford.edu
COMMENT: Tom Byers, Program Director (415) 725-8271
e-mail tbyers@leland.stanford.edu


Summer job program places engineering students in high-tech startups

STANFORD -- The School of Engineering has established a new entrepreneurship program that will provide selected students with summer jobs in high-tech startup companies.

The new Technology Ventures Co-op Program (TVC) combines four elements that make it unusual.

  • It is designed for undergraduate engineering students who plan to go on graduate school;
  • It targets start-up companies, rather than large, established engineering firms;
  • It includes a spring-quarter course, "Management of Technology Ventures," to prepare students for the experience and a debriefing seminar the following autumn quarter; and
  • It includes a research component that will assess how well current engineering courses prepare students for the demands of high-tech startup companies.

"Most major engineering schools have extensive coop programs. But, as far as I have been able to determine, none have set up a program like this," said Thomas H. Byers, consulting associate professor and program director.

"Universities and industry must adapt their roles in engineering education to keep pace with the constantly changing high-tech industry," Byers said. "TVC is one way in which Stanford is attempting to ensure that its academic curriculum is relevant to today's entrepreneurial economy."

Byers credits engineering Dean James Gibbons with the basic idea for the program.

"For a variety of reasons I thought that a co-op program oriented specifically toward entrepreneurship would be especially appropriate for Stanford students," Gibbons said. "Former Stanford students have started a large number of companies - in Silicon Valley and elsewhere - many of which have made major contributions to our nation's economic strength and robustness. By paying careful attention to the entrepreneurship process, and giving students significant experiences in entrepreneurial firms, we hope to increase the probability that our students will start and develop successful companies."

Gibbons met Byers, who has been involved with two major start-ups - Symantec, which was highly successful and Slate, which failed - while he was teaching graduate courses on entrepreneurship at the University of California-Berkeley and invited the entrepreneur to come to Stanford to set the program up.

"Tom's experiences, both as a co-op student and entrepreneur, have been extremely valuable to us in getting our program correctly formulated and well launched," Gibbons said.

The program is highly selective and will begin with 10 students. It is aimed primarily at individuals who are working simultaneously toward a bachelor's and a master's degree in any engineering field, so-called "co-terminal" students. Participating employers will be drawn from a pool of pre-screened high-technology start-up companies, typically funded by venture capital and located in Silicon Valley.

In the preparatory course in the spring, which will be co-taught by Byers and Robert Sutton, professor of industrial engineering, the students will be taught entrepreneurial skills related to marketing, venture financing and cash flow management, team building and leadership, and the challenges of managing growth and handling adversity.

Students also will be introduced to company representatives, who may offer summer jobs to the individuals who have the skills they require.

"Because there will be more companies than students, I expect that most of the students will receive more than one job offer," Byers said. "These will be the kinds of students the companies really want to hire."

Participating companies agree to pay students at a relatively competitive wage, rather than a traditionally low internship rate. During the summer, students will hold periodic status meetings and informal gatherings.

Students and potential employers who would like to find out more about the program can check its web site (http://soe.stanford.edu/ieem/tvc) or visit its Internet newsgroup (su.school.engineering.tech-ventures-coop). Alternately, they can call the program office at (415) 725-1627 or drop by at 377 Terman Hall.

-dfs-

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