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IT Entrepreneurship

If you are a BS CSE, BS CIS, BS ECE, or BS-BA (Information Systems option) major or pre-major, have not yet completed more than 100 hours of your program, have a strong interest in entrepreneurship, and wish to join the NEWPATH program, please contact Dr. Neelam Soundarajan (neelam@cse)

NEWPATH Objectives: NEWPATH is an NSF-supported program that has been set up at Ohio State with the mission to educate, train and nurture highly motivated students to become IT entrepreneurs of the information age. The most ambitious students are expected, by the time of graduation, to be running their own IT startups and be ready to become the next generation of business and technology leaders of the IT world.

Intended Outcomes: The intended outcomes of the NEWPATH program are:

  • To provide a thorough education in computing fundamentals as well as in the most promising ideas and technologies that are likely to form the core of small and large IT businesses of the future;
  • To help students in the program develop, via the Entrepreneurship Minor program, a thorough understanding of essential issues and ideas related to creating, launching and running successful IT ventures;
  • To help students develop and hone their entrepreneurship skills by providing suitable internship opportunities in IT startups and other suitable IT companies in the Central Ohio area;
  • To help students further develop their understanding of key principles of IT-entrepreneurship by providing a forum, in the form of a weekly seminar, where they can learn from each others' experiences and ideas and by interacting with local IT entrepreneurs;
  • To provide students a realistic experience in planning, acquiring funding, and setting up and running an IT venture in a year-long e-practicum during the final year of the program; and
  • To evaluate each aspect of the NEWPATH program to assess the efficacy of the various components and use the results of the assessments to continuously improve the program.

NEWPATH Program: Major and pre-major students in BS CSE, BS CIS, and BS ECE (Computer option) programs with interests in entrepreneurship will be recruited into the program. In addition to satisfying the requirements of their respective majors, NEWPATH students will complete the entrepreneurship minor; complete two internships in carefully selected IT companies; complete the culminating e-practicum in which they will take an idea from concept to the brink of commercialization; and, in the case of the most promising cases, especially the ones that attract interest of potential investors when the business cases are presented to them as part of the e-practicum, to create and run the startups.

Internships: Internships, especially in IT startups, is an important component of NEWPATH. TechColumbus' staff members will help place students in appropriate internship positions and will play a key role in assessing and guiding student teams in the e-practicum. Most importantly, TechColumbus will actively assist student teams in setting up and running the startups. Since startups may be strapped for cash, NSF-NEWPATH funds may be used, in such cases, to supplement or provide part of the salaries for students during their internship periods. Students who take up such internships, especially those whose internships are supported by NEWPATH funds, will be required to make a presentation, in the weekly seminar (see below) during the following quarter, about their internship experience. Internship supervisors of NEWPATH students whose internship was supported by NEWPATH funds will also be invited to make presentations in the weekly seminar; these presentations may be about their particular companies or may be on topics of general interest related to IT-entrepreneurship.

Weekly Seminar: A key part of the program is the weekly seminar. All NEWPATH students, from freshmen to senior, are expected to register for and regularly attend the 1-credit hour NEWPATH weekly seminar every quarter (except Summer). The intent of the seminar is to provide a forum in which students can learn from each other and from NEWPATH faculty members, can brainstorm ideas that may serve as the basis for startups, can hear from other students about their internship and e-practicum experiences, can engage in case-studies of successful and unsuccessful IT startups to identify best (and not so good) practices, and can hear from CEOs and other senior people from local IT startups. Also, as described in the previous paragraph, NEWPATH students whose internships, or other program-related activities such as attending entrepreneurship-related conferences, have been funded by NEWPATH funds, are expected to make presentations in the seminar.

In addition, students, either individually or in teams of two or three, are encouraged to pursue individual research where they explore, in depth, some aspect of entrepreneurship such as effective approaches to identifying market opportunities, or to obtaining venture capital, or even exploring specific items of recent technology developments that may present entrepreneurial opportunities. Students pursuing such research will be eligible for scholarship support of up to $500 per quarter. These students are required to make a presentation during the quarter, reporting on the results of their research findings; in addition, they are required to submit a (3-5 page) paper by the end of the quarter that reports on the findings and accounts for feedback received during their presentation. Students who do not seem to be making progress in their research or fail to make a presentation and/or submit a paper are likely to have their scholarships suspended and will be ineligible for scholarship support until they are again actively participating in and contributing to the program.

The seminar will meet every semester (other than Summer) on Mondays at 10:20-11:15am in DL 263. [When OSU was on quarters, we used to meet on Tuesdays at 12:30-1:18pm.] We are currently in the process of having a regular course number assigned for the seminar; for now, students should register for 1-cr hour of Dr. Soundarajan's section of CSE 4193, "Independent Studies". Regular attendance at the seminar and active participation are key to achieving the program's outcomes. Hence, every student is expected to attend the seminar regularly and participate actively. Failure to do so without prior consultation with the NEWPATH faculty may result in the student being suspended from the program. In some cases, it is recognized that a student may not be able to participate in the seminar for part of or even an entire quarter. For example, if the student is required to take a particular course whose schedule conflicts with the Tuesday, 12:30-1:18 time slot of the NEWPATH seminar, or if the student has a summer internship that continues into fall and the internship duties prevent the student from attending the seminar; etc. In such cases, the student should inform, by email, the NEWPATH faculty in a timely manner, no later than by the end of the first week of the quarter in question. Failure to do so will render the student ineligible for scholarship support and support for internship-salary and other program related activities for the next two quarters. Repeated failure to attend the seminar and failure to participate actively will result in the student being dropped from the program.

Evaluation: Evaluation is an integral part of the NEWPATH program. An external evaluator will work closely with the NEWPATH faculty to develop suitable rubrics for evaluating the program and its effectiveness in achieving its intended outcomes. The evaluation results will be used to identify and implement necessary improvements in the program.

Other: NEWPATH is one of the projects supported by the NSF under its CPATH program. The site at http://www.cpath-community.msu.edu/projects/nteit contains links to all the CPATH projects (including NEWPATH). A brochure providing a high-level overview of NEWPATH, including the rationale underlying the development of the program is available.