Innovation Boot-Camp for Engineering PhDs

February 14, 2008

CONTACT: Catharine Lamm
603/646-3943

Dartmouth's new graduate program teaches technology and entrepreneurship

Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth is preparing to train a new generation of technology leaders with the nation's first ever doctoral-level engineering Innovation Program. The Program is designed to provide engineering Ph.D. candidates with the entrepreneurial training they need to turn complex research discoveries into innovative applied technologies.

Beginning this Fall, students admitted to the Program will learn the process of technology innovation through a combination of coursework, project work, an internship, and the opportunity to turn their engineering research in an applied direction. They will be able to supplement their engineering studies with courses in new venture creation, finance, accounting, patent law, marketing, and organizational behavior, and will also be offered the opportunity to complete a 3- to 6-month internship in a startup or other entrepreneurial enterprise. Graduates will receive an innovation certificate in addition to their Ph.D. degree.

Yifeng Liao, PhD Candidate
Dartmouth recently filed a patent application based on the work of PhD Candidate Yifeng Liao (left) and Professor Ian Baker. Liao and Baker have discovered a novel metal alloy with potential applications for making a stronger alternative to stainless steel.

The Innovation Program reflects Dartmouth's commitment to serving humanity through engineering and addresses the nation's need for people with both technical and entrepreneurial expertise. "Society needs more than technical skill from engineering graduates today," says Joe Helble, Professor and Dean of Engineering at Dartmouth. "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."

Implementation of the Program was made possible, in part, by the generous gifts of two Dartmouth families. The William F. Holekamp '70 Family has made a gift to the Innovation Program, part of which will establish the Holekamp Family Fellowship for doctoral candidates in the Program. Free from the constraints of federally funded research, Holekamp Fellows will be able to pursue innovative solutions to real-world problems, particularly in Thayer School's three research focus areas: Engineering in Medicine, Energy Technologies, and Complex Systems.

Innovation Program participants in the area of Energy Technologies will be eligible to apply for funding through a new Energy Challenge Initiative. This initiative is made possible by the generous contribution of an anonymous alumnus and his family. The goal is to provide seed funding to student and faculty research projects that address the challenges of global climate change.

Support for the Energy Challenge Initiative will be awarded competitively, and applications will also be invited from students at all levels—undergraduate through the doctoral level—as well as from faculty. Senior honors students supported by the Energy Challenge Initiative will be known as Sonnerup Fellows in honor of the many contributions to students made by Professor Emeritus Bengt Sonnerup.