Friday, February 27, 2009

Mentors Make a Difference

According to studies of American executives, there's a direct correlation between having mentors and finding job satisfaction, professional growth and salary. Support and advice from mentors often help students and young employees to become more focused, gain confidence and learn to trust their decisions. Students can help students. And there are specialized kinds of mentoring -- graduate students, for instance, require an individualized approach. It benefits college students of any age to reach out to the community and mentor young people. It seems that a key ingredient in successful mentoring is a difference in experience between those who pass along what they know and those who absorb it.

Mentoring didn't exist, or it wasn't widely promoted, when I was a student, although the concept has been around for a LONG time -- the word itself was inspired by the character of Mentor in Homer's Odyssey -- and I've come to see that my peers and I missed out on a lot. Just thinking about it brings up that if-I-only-had-it-to-do-over feeling. So if you have a shot at being mentored or becoming a mentor, don't miss out.

There's an invaluable networking aspect, too – the connections that mentors and mentees form often evolve into opportunities that otherwise would've been unlikely, if not impossible. Most successful professional engineers can attribute their achievements to their mentoring relationships – in school or on the job.

Whether you're being mentored or doing the mentoring, you'll find that it'll be an extremely satisfying and productive.

Mentors Make a Difference

According to studies of American executives, there's a direct correlation between having mentors and finding job satisfaction, professional growth and salary. Support and advice from mentors often help students and young employees to become more focused, gain confidence and learn to trust their decisions. Students can help students. And there are specialized kinds of mentoring -- graduate students, for instance, require an individualized approach. It benefits college students of any age to reach out to the community and mentor young people. It seems that a key ingredient in successful mentoring is a difference in experience between those who pass along what they know and those who absorb it.

Mentoring didn't exist, or it wasn't widely promoted, when I was a student, although the concept has been around for a LONG time -- the word itself was inspired by the character of Mentor in Homer's Odyssey -- and I've come to see that my peers and I missed out on a lot. Just thinking about it brings up that if-I-only-had-it-to-do-over feeling. So if you have a shot at being mentored or becoming a mentor, don't miss out.

There's an invaluable networking aspect, too – the connections that mentors and mentees form often evolve into opportunities that otherwise would've been unlikely, if not impossible. Most successful professional engineers can attribute their achievements to their mentoring relationships – in school or on the job.

Whether you're being mentored or doing the mentoring, you'll find that it'll be an extremely satisfying and productive.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wile E Coyote – The Consummate Entrepreneur

Zoom and BoredImage via Wikipedia
Poor Wile E Coyote. No matter what he does, no matter how hard he tries, no matter how clever his whacky contraptions are, he never catches the Road Runner. Not only do Wile E’s elaborate schemes backfire, he usually gets the worst of the deal – crushed under a boulder, squashed by a piano, run over by a train. He seems hopeless.
BUT… Wile E never gives up.
Isn't that what we want in our entrepreneurs? Don’t we want them to identify the pain? (e.g., I’m hungry.) Don’t we want them to create an objective? (e.g., Eat the Roadrunner.) Create or buy a device that’ll enable them to meet the objective? (e.g., Buy rocket-powered roller skates from the ACME company.) Create a plan? (e.g., Ignite rockets. CatchRoadrunner.)
And what do they do when the plan goes wrong? (e.g., Wile E hits mountainside, slides into pit of rattlesnakes and… you know the rest.)
Wile E could stop anytime – if he weren’t driven passionately to succeed. He keeps thinking up ideas to get what he wants. He takes action. He never gives up. Never. And that’s what makes Wile E a consummate entrepreneur.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wile E Coyote – The Consummate Entrepreneur

Zoom and BoredImage via Wikipedia
Poor Wile E Coyote. No matter what he does, no matter how hard he tries, no matter how clever his whacky contraptions are, he never catches the Road Runner. Not only do Wile E’s elaborate schemes backfire, he usually gets the worst of the deal – crushed under a boulder, squashed by a piano, run over by a train. He seems hopeless.
BUT… Wile E never gives up.
Isn't that what we want in our entrepreneurs? Don’t we want them to identify the pain? (e.g., I’m hungry.) Don’t we want them to create an objective? (e.g., Eat the Roadrunner.) Create or buy a device that’ll enable them to meet the objective? (e.g., Buy rocket-powered roller skates from the ACME company.) Create a plan? (e.g., Ignite rockets. CatchRoadrunner.)
And what do they do when the plan goes wrong? (e.g., Wile E hits mountainside, slides into pit of rattlesnakes and… you know the rest.)
Wile E could stop anytime – if he weren’t driven passionately to succeed. He keeps thinking up ideas to get what he wants. He takes action. He never gives up. Never. And that’s what makes Wile E a consummate entrepreneur.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Future of the University of Michigan Depends on Entrepreneurs!


I don’t say this to everyone, but here it goes…

There’s more to education than professors, classrooms, labs and writing papers. Engineering education – even a great education at the University of Michigan – requires the participation of community partners who provide hands-on experience with aspects of entrepreneurship that students wouldn’t encounter on-campus.

That’s why the University is looking for individuals who’ll come to campus and discuss their challenges and real-world problem-solving. In the words of those old “Uncle Sam” recruitment posters, “We want you.”

Contact us at the Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE). Soon. Now. While we’re talking, we’ll tell you what’s going on, here:

1) This week we’re launching a new research program for small companies. It’s one of those win-win propositions – a good deal for the business and their bottom line, and a good deal for the University and its students. 2) We’re matching companies with energetic, highly intelligent, unusually motivated Michigan Engineering students who need advisors, role-models and challenging projects such as those going on at your company. 3) We’ve put together new classes that allow students to work in companies, paired with a set of activities at U-M, to get academic credit. 4) We run a job fair – the MPowered Career Fair – that connects small companies with U-M students and we will also shortly announce an internship program for Michigan students to work in companies right here.

A lot of leaders talk about the importance of keeping students in Michigan, because talent and drive are invaluable. You can help by hiring them as interns, because those who intern in Michigan are three times as likely to stay and take a job with the company that they’ve come to know. Right now, the Nation’s large companies aren’t hiring much, so some of the best students won’t have jobs for the summer. And Michigan’s entrepreneurship support organizations – the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, SmartZones, Employment Training and Community Services, the chambers of commerce, etc. – aren’t setting up fellowship programs in which small Michigan companies hire interns from universities throughout the State – U-M isn’t the only Michigan institution with gifted students who need support.

There’s unique opportunity in Michigan right now to create something new – a truly modern innovative entrepreneurial community. We’re here, ready to play ball. It’s not just because we’re part of this community; it’s because it elevates who we are and what we will become.

Yes, a lot of leaders talk. Now I’m challenging them to walk the walk. Are you one of them? Prove it – make a commitment… hire Michigan students… mentor them… teach them in your real-world classroom… help their professors. Show them the excitement and gratification of entrepreneurship. Then keep them for yourselves. Keep them in Michigan to help work on our common goals.

Thomas Zurbuchen is director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and a professor of Space Science and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan College of Engineering.

This post appears simultaneously on Metromodecom.

The Future of the University of Michigan Depends on Entrepreneurs!


I don’t say this to everyone, but here it goes…

There’s more to education than professors, classrooms, labs and writing papers. Engineering education – even a great education at the University of Michigan – requires the participation of community partners who provide hands-on experience with aspects of entrepreneurship that students wouldn’t encounter on-campus.

That’s why the University is looking for individuals who’ll come to campus and discuss their challenges and real-world problem-solving. In the words of those old “Uncle Sam” recruitment posters, “We want you.”

Contact us at the Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE). Soon. Now. While we’re talking, we’ll tell you what’s going on, here:

1) This week we’re launching a new research program for small companies. It’s one of those win-win propositions – a good deal for the business and their bottom line, and a good deal for the University and its students. 2) We’re matching companies with energetic, highly intelligent, unusually motivated Michigan Engineering students who need advisors, role-models and challenging projects such as those going on at your company. 3) We’ve put together new classes that allow students to work in companies, paired with a set of activities at U-M, to get academic credit. 4) We run a job fair – the MPowered Career Fair – that connects small companies with U-M students and we will also shortly announce an internship program for Michigan students to work in companies right here.

A lot of leaders talk about the importance of keeping students in Michigan, because talent and drive are invaluable. You can help by hiring them as interns, because those who intern in Michigan are three times as likely to stay and take a job with the company that they’ve come to know. Right now, the Nation’s large companies aren’t hiring much, so some of the best students won’t have jobs for the summer. And Michigan’s entrepreneurship support organizations – the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, SmartZones, Employment Training and Community Services, the chambers of commerce, etc. – aren’t setting up fellowship programs in which small Michigan companies hire interns from universities throughout the State – U-M isn’t the only Michigan institution with gifted students who need support.

There’s unique opportunity in Michigan right now to create something new – a truly modern innovative entrepreneurial community. We’re here, ready to play ball. It’s not just because we’re part of this community; it’s because it elevates who we are and what we will become.

Yes, a lot of leaders talk. Now I’m challenging them to walk the walk. Are you one of them? Prove it – make a commitment… hire Michigan students… mentor them… teach them in your real-world classroom… help their professors. Show them the excitement and gratification of entrepreneurship. Then keep them for yourselves. Keep them in Michigan to help work on our common goals.

Thomas Zurbuchen is director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and a professor of Space Science and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan College of Engineering.

This post appears simultaneously on Metromodecom.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The University of Michigan, Entrepreneurship and Its Students


Students from the State of Michigan know the score: These are times of fierce economic challenges – perhaps more so in Michigan

than in any other state of the union. Teachers also know that they have to change the way they do business – they’re well aware of what lies ahead for their students, especially those pursuing engineering and science degrees. Education has had to change with the times.

Today’s world is flat and changes rapidly! Competition is fierce – each engineer we educated in the U.S. has to compete with 50 engineers on the global stage. So education had better be good. And it had better be relevant.

Unfortunately, to a certain extent our education has lost value – a diploma used to be a passport to a great career; now it’s merely a single-entry visa. It’ll get a student his first job. After that, however, it takes a lot more than a piece of sheepskin and good performance on the job to maintain a career. It takes a mindset that one must become a life-long learner – coasting on yesterday’s knowledge and achievements doesn’t cut it, anymore. Students’ success will come from a never-ending process of learning and incorporating that learning into their lives. It will also come from developing an entrepreneurial mindset.

Entrepreneurs are a different breed. In the words of two who would know – Hoa Ma, a professor of management at Peking University, China, and at the University of Illinois at Springfield, USA, and renowned entrepreneur Justin Tan – entrepreneurs are people with a mindset that gives them “the desire to achieve, the passion to create, and the yearning for freedom, the drive for independence, and the embodiment of entrepreneurial visions and dreams through tireless hard work, calculated risk-taking, continuous innovation and undying perseverance.” Entrepreneurs aren’t just two guys in a garage; they’re people Michigan needs to fill its companies, small and big, if the State is to strive again!

We want to produce entrepreneurial engineers at the University of Michigan. But we can’t do that only by preaching in classrooms, which we’re doing very persistently, by the way. We also have to give our students the encouragement, the resources, the challenge and the empowering feeling that we want them to go out there and try.

Michigan Universities are addressing this challenge. We’re not there yet, but we’re surely on the way. I’m optimistic about the future of Michigan because I can see the potential in our young students waiting to be unleashed.

Thomas Zurbuchen is director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and a professor of Space Science and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan College of Engineering.

This post appears simultaneously on Metromodecom.

The University of Michigan, Entrepreneurship and Its Students


Students from the State of Michigan know the score: These are times of fierce economic challenges – perhaps more so in Michigan

than in any other state of the union. Teachers also know that they have to change the way they do business – they’re well aware of what lies ahead for their students, especially those pursuing engineering and science degrees. Education has had to change with the times.

Today’s world is flat and changes rapidly! Competition is fierce – each engineer we educated in the U.S. has to compete with 50 engineers on the global stage. So education had better be good. And it had better be relevant.

Unfortunately, to a certain extent our education has lost value – a diploma used to be a passport to a great career; now it’s merely a single-entry visa. It’ll get a student his first job. After that, however, it takes a lot more than a piece of sheepskin and good performance on the job to maintain a career. It takes a mindset that one must become a life-long learner – coasting on yesterday’s knowledge and achievements doesn’t cut it, anymore. Students’ success will come from a never-ending process of learning and incorporating that learning into their lives. It will also come from developing an entrepreneurial mindset.

Entrepreneurs are a different breed. In the words of two who would know – Hoa Ma, a professor of management at Peking University, China, and at the University of Illinois at Springfield, USA, and renowned entrepreneur Justin Tan – entrepreneurs are people with a mindset that gives them “the desire to achieve, the passion to create, and the yearning for freedom, the drive for independence, and the embodiment of entrepreneurial visions and dreams through tireless hard work, calculated risk-taking, continuous innovation and undying perseverance.” Entrepreneurs aren’t just two guys in a garage; they’re people Michigan needs to fill its companies, small and big, if the State is to strive again!

We want to produce entrepreneurial engineers at the University of Michigan. But we can’t do that only by preaching in classrooms, which we’re doing very persistently, by the way. We also have to give our students the encouragement, the resources, the challenge and the empowering feeling that we want them to go out there and try.

Michigan Universities are addressing this challenge. We’re not there yet, but we’re surely on the way. I’m optimistic about the future of Michigan because I can see the potential in our young students waiting to be unleashed.

Thomas Zurbuchen is director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and a professor of Space Science and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan College of Engineering.

This post appears simultaneously on Metromodecom.

The University of Michigan and Its State


The University of Michigan is great because of two important aspects: 1) it’s public; 2) it strives for excellence.
An excellent education, available to the public, has a tremendous impact on its region. I have therefore always loved that I work at a public university – I want to make a difference in the State and the world! The University of Michigan gives me an opportunity to do both.

In the past 10 years, excellence in education has become even more important. The U-M of today isn’t the U-M of a decade ago. A decade ago, the University had similar objectives and desires for excellence, but I never felt that making a local impact was the University’s central value.

Meanwhile, the University and the State of Michigan have had to weather a perfect storm that impeded progress. But those struggles have brought a new way of thinking to the surface – the State of Michigan’s universities had to become a major force in the State’s economic recovery. Everyone – in and outside of the University – shares Michigan’s deep troubles. So everyone cares about solutions. We have to!

I actually think that the University of Michigan can grow in stature and influence the State by doing the right thing – just like Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, just like the University of North-Carolina in its environment; just like Stanford and Silicon Valley. Global and local approaches aren’t mutually exclusive – they go together!

Right now, Michigan universities are much better equipped than any others to develop the transportation systems of the next century. But it will require a big plan and commitment from the State, the universities and the companies. And implementation of the plan has to happen quickly for it to succeed – a gradual and organic transition is too slow, and we can’t afford that.

Leadership for this has to come from the government! Unfortunately, the recent State of the State address left me disappointed. It sounded a lot like more of the same, instead of a leap forward. But I remain convinced that we’re looking at an unprecedented opportunity for re-invention – not just the University of Michigan’s but the state it’s in.

Thomas Zurbuchen is director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and a professor of Space Science and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan College of Engineering.

This post appears simultaneously on Metromode.com.

The University of Michigan and Its State


The University of Michigan is great because of two important aspects: 1) it’s public; 2) it strives for excellence.
An excellent education, available to the public, has a tremendous impact on its region. I have therefore always loved that I work at a public university – I want to make a difference in the State and the world! The University of Michigan gives me an opportunity to do both.

In the past 10 years, excellence in education has become even more important. The U-M of today isn’t the U-M of a decade ago. A decade ago, the University had similar objectives and desires for excellence, but I never felt that making a local impact was the University’s central value.

Meanwhile, the University and the State of Michigan have had to weather a perfect storm that impeded progress. But those struggles have brought a new way of thinking to the surface – the State of Michigan’s universities had to become a major force in the State’s economic recovery. Everyone – in and outside of the University – shares Michigan’s deep troubles. So everyone cares about solutions. We have to!

I actually think that the University of Michigan can grow in stature and influence the State by doing the right thing – just like Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, just like the University of North-Carolina in its environment; just like Stanford and Silicon Valley. Global and local approaches aren’t mutually exclusive – they go together!

Right now, Michigan universities are much better equipped than any others to develop the transportation systems of the next century. But it will require a big plan and commitment from the State, the universities and the companies. And implementation of the plan has to happen quickly for it to succeed – a gradual and organic transition is too slow, and we can’t afford that.

Leadership for this has to come from the government! Unfortunately, the recent State of the State address left me disappointed. It sounded a lot like more of the same, instead of a leap forward. But I remain convinced that we’re looking at an unprecedented opportunity for re-invention – not just the University of Michigan’s but the state it’s in.

Thomas Zurbuchen is director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and a professor of Space Science and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan College of Engineering.

This post appears simultaneously on Metromode.com.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Forum welcomes its first guest blogger

Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 11, the Michigan Engineering Forum will feature its first guest blogger, Thomas Zurbuchen, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and a professor of Space Science and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan College of Engineering. He'll be posting four times -- and I suspect that whatever he has to say will be as energetic as he is. Check it out.

The Forum welcomes its first guest blogger

Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 11, the Michigan Engineering Forum will feature its first guest blogger, Thomas Zurbuchen, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and a professor of Space Science and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan College of Engineering. He'll be posting four times -- and I suspect that whatever he has to say will be as energetic as he is. Check it out.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Engineering FUNdamentals


Engineers often get a bad rap. Too many folks see them as techies without a fun-loving side. But somewhere there are engineers doing stand-up comedy or firing off one-liners over lunch. Chances are, their routines might include these two items...

To the optimist, the glass is half full.

To the pessimist, the glass is half empty.

To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
*************************************************************
On the train to a math and engineering convention, a group of math majors and a group of engineering majors sat in the same car. Each of the math majors had his ticket, but it became clear that the group of engineers had only ONE ticket among them. The math majors started laughing and snickering.

When one of the engineers said, “Here comes the conductor,” all of the engineers went into the bathroom. The math majors were puzzled. Coming down the aisle the conductor said, “tickets please,” and collected tickets from all the math majors. He then went to the bathroom, knocked on the door and said “ticket please,” and the engineers stuck the ticket under the door. The conductor took it and left. The engineers came out of the bathroom a few minutes later. The math majors felt really stupid.

So, on the way back from the convention, the group of math majors had one ticket for the group. They started snickering at the engineers because, this time, the whole group had NO tickets at all.

When the engineer lookout gave the warning -- “Conductor coming!” -- all of the engineers went to one bathroom. All the math majors went to another bathroom. Before the conductor reached their end of the aisle, one of the engineers left the bathroom, knocked on the other bathroom, and said “ticket please.”

Engineering FUNdamentals


Engineers often get a bad rap. Too many folks see them as techies without a fun-loving side. But somewhere there are engineers doing stand-up comedy or firing off one-liners over lunch. Chances are, their routines might include these two items...

To the optimist, the glass is half full.

To the pessimist, the glass is half empty.

To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
*************************************************************
On the train to a math and engineering convention, a group of math majors and a group of engineering majors sat in the same car. Each of the math majors had his ticket, but it became clear that the group of engineers had only ONE ticket among them. The math majors started laughing and snickering.

When one of the engineers said, “Here comes the conductor,” all of the engineers went into the bathroom. The math majors were puzzled. Coming down the aisle the conductor said, “tickets please,” and collected tickets from all the math majors. He then went to the bathroom, knocked on the door and said “ticket please,” and the engineers stuck the ticket under the door. The conductor took it and left. The engineers came out of the bathroom a few minutes later. The math majors felt really stupid.

So, on the way back from the convention, the group of math majors had one ticket for the group. They started snickering at the engineers because, this time, the whole group had NO tickets at all.

When the engineer lookout gave the warning -- “Conductor coming!” -- all of the engineers went to one bathroom. All the math majors went to another bathroom. Before the conductor reached their end of the aisle, one of the engineers left the bathroom, knocked on the other bathroom, and said “ticket please.”