Should all students learn this skill?

Entrepreneurship seen as a skill every student in every field needs for the future

entrepreneurship-college-studentsFoluke Tuakli hopped on a bicycle and weaved around her classroom at the University of Maryland, College Park, acting out the problems that cyclists encounter on the road. “I’m turning, I’m turning,” she shrieked as the bike wobbled.

The demonstration was part of a student pitch for a bicycle GPS app in a freshman entrepreneurship class in the honors college. Other student groups had their own pitches: a new type of sustainable drinking fountain where water is squirted directly into the mouth, a Third World slum development project, and a day care center that emphasizes healthful eating habits.

The class is part of the vision of University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh, who has made it his priority to establish the university as a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship — not just in the business school but in almost every discipline.

More than 4,000 undergraduates are now taking elective innovation and entrepreneurship classes that span a variety of fields. The university is in the midst of launching a flurry of new, entrepreneurship-oriented academic programs, additional “living and learning” programs where students live among classmates in their field of study, and fellowships.

“The odds are in your favor that if you educate students in entrepreneurship, they can have a big impact on the state’s economy, create the next Under Armour,” said Loh, referring to the global athletic apparel company started by alumnus Kevin Plank.

Loh, now approaching four years on the job, says the still-sluggish economy means all students should have the skills to create their own livelihoods. And he believes that all students, whether in business, engineering, arts or science fields, should learn how to be entrepreneurs.

(Next page: How faculty is being encouraged; new classes)