New course brings arts, management and engineering together for first time

Posted on Wednesday, November 18, 2015

By Brandon Gillet

A new pilot course at uOttawa is aiming to bridge the gap between students in arts, engineering and management. The Entrepreneurship Foundry is designed to attract students in other faculties to Telfer courses.

Elena Valenzuela, an assistant professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, helped to coordinate the course with Telfer entrepreneur-in-residence Stephen Daze, to offer arts students training in entrepreneurship.

“We had been doing entrepreneurial leadership skills for the arts for the last couple of years during Entrepreneurship Week,” said Valenzuela. “So the next logical step, we thought, was to do a course.”

The course puts arts, management and engineering students on a team to craft a business idea and use the course tools and resources to produce an actual startup business plan. For arts students, this can be a new way to see how skills can be used while working with others with expertise in different fields.

”We already had entrepreneurship teaching in technology and in engineering, so we thought ‘Why doesn’t arts have it?’ Because there is always a creative aspect to a project,” said Valenzuela.

According to her, the course structure is completely unlike what arts students are used to. It includes panels and guest talks, but also group work and collaboration, making for a much different environment.

“I would have loved this opportunity when I was in undergrad,” said Valenzuela. “To work with others of different faculties on something concrete like that.”

The course is the first of its kind on campus. Students will be equipped to form actual startups and venture forth with their business ideas.

“At the end of the course they do a pitch to an entrepreneur panel,” Valenzuela said. “We train them but they go off on their own.”

The Entrepreneurship Foundry is a two-year pilot project, and students can apply to it at any time. They must provide a CV and a description of why they want to take the course and what they will bring to it. Goals for the course for next fall are to make it permanent, reach out further across the faculties and offer a French version.

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