Engineers Week promotes entrepreneurship

The second annual National Engineers Week at Yale comes to a close today, having promoted a University-wide engineering culture and fostered discussion about entrepreneurship.

While last year’s celebration focused on promoting an engineering culture at Yale, this past week’s featured talks by engineers-turned-entrepreneurs and a career fair in order to promote a professional and entrepreneurial focus, said event organizer Candice Pelligra GRD ’16. Attendees praised the week for helping bolster a growing engineering presence at the University. The events conclude today in the CEID with a design challenge from 2–5 p.m. and a student activities and research fair at 7 p.m.

“It’s a win-win,” Dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science T. Kyle Vanderlick said. “It gives [the organizers] a chance to do something very important and constructive outside of their research domain, and at the same time helps build up a culture of engineering.”

Enping Hong GRD ’15, who co-organized National Engineers Week at Yale last spring but only consulted with Pelligra this year, said he planned the 2012 event to create a “space” for the University’s engineering community to come together. He said he was pleased at this year’s broadened agenda.

“With the entrepreneurship talk, what’s really happened is you are targeting everyone from freshmen to graduate students who are interested in making ideas into companies,” he said. “These are really concrete things to get you thinking about what is next after the classroom. That is still being done in the context of creating this space for the engineering community to come together.”

Engineers Week moved to the Omni Hotel Wednesday evening, as students networked with representatives from firms including IBM, Sikorsky, Texas Instruments and the chemical company Enthone. James Doss-Gollin ’15, an engineering major who attended the fair, said he was happy to see local companies like Sikorsky and Enthone building a relationship with Yale. Though he said he was surprised more students did not attend, the small event was “definitely a step in the right direction” for Yale engineering. Christopher Datsikas ’16 said he had expected high-caliber companies such as those in attendance to be present at the networking session, but added that he wished the event had included more firms.

Enthone Human Resources Manager Dana Gennarelli said the company looks to bolster its relationship with Yale because of the caliber of its engineering students, adding that Enthone is located 3 miles away in West Haven and looks to Yale for “local talent.”

“It’s actually a really great event, and we are happy to partner with Yale in doing this, especially if it is promoting National Engineers Week,” she said.

For the past two years, engineering graduate students organized National Engineers Week at Yale through SEAS’s Advanced Graduate Leadership Program, which supports graduate students pursuing professional experiences outside the lab. Pelligra said she hopes to takes steps by the end of the year to ensure that National Engineers Week at Yale remains an annual event that does not depend entirely on AGLP resources. She added that she is confident other SEAS funding will support the week in future years because it meshes so well with the mission of promoting engineering culture at Yale.

Hong said he too thinks National Engineers Week will continue at Yale because it fits well with SEAS’s expanding infrastructure — students now take what they learn in the classroom, develop prototypes in the new Center for Engineering Innovation and Design and may even consult with the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute on business models.

“It’s hard to measure it by one event or one center or by one initiative, but I think when you look at all these things and you put them together, there is a definite push towards [a growing culture], which is no small accomplishment for an institution which is known for the humanities,” he added.

Engineers Week has been celebrated on a national level since 1951.

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