Wednesday, October 18

USAC looks for ways to bring entrepreneurship education into curricula

The Entrepreneurship Council discussed about ways to improve entrepreneurship culture on campus at a conference on Friday. (Dayoung Lee/Daily Bruin)

The Entrepreneurship Council discussed about ways to improve entrepreneurship culture on campus at a conference on Friday. (Dayoung Lee/Daily Bruin)

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated Tim Groeling is the chair of the communication studies department. In fact, Groeling is a professor in the department.

Undergraduate Students Association Council members want to find ways to improve the entrepreneurship curriculum at UCLA.

Members of the office of USAC General Representative 2 and groups in the entrepreneurship community attended the Entrepreneurship Council’s conference Friday, which discussed how to improve UCLA’s entrepreneurship culture and education.

The Entrepreneurship Council consists of 18 entrepreneurship organizations, such as the Technical Entrepreneurial Community, and Startup UCLA. The council holds a discussion every quarter.

USAC General Representative 2 Ruchit Majmudar said his office was invited to join the conference for the first time this quarter for their work to promote entrepreneurship and connect campus entrepreneurship organizations.

Majmudar added he thinks campus administration does not make entrepreneurship education a priority.

“I was surprised how entrepreneurship was referred as a co-curricular, and not curricular,” Majmudar said. “The school does not consider entrepreneurship a priority in the academic curriculum, so there is a need to push it into the curriculum.”

Changing the academic curriculum requires collaborative efforts from both the students and faculty, said Tim Groeling, a professor of communication studies and co-founder of StartUp UCLA.

“Now is a good opportunity for students to demonstrate a demand for more classes, by putting more pressure on faculty if we want to make changes to the curriculum,” Groeling said. “Especially with the increasing emphasis on undergraduate education because of the financial situation of nonresident tuition basically keeping UCLA afloat.”

Majmudar added he met with Patricia Turner, dean and vice provost for undergraduate education, Friday to get faculty perspective on ways to add more entrepreneurship to the undergraduate curriculum at UCLA.

In order to make changes to the curriculum, a proposal must be submitted by faculty and passed through the Academic Senate, according to UCLA senate guidelines. Majmudar’s office is looking for ways it can incorporate innovation and entrepreneurship into every major’s curriculum.

The office also wants to add more options through Capstone Initiative, a program that aims to foster student-faculty interaction through project-based learning, Majmudar said.

[Related: Capstone program can improve student engagement with professors]

Majmudar said he thinks students already want to make the curriculum more practical and less theoretical.

“We want to give students classes that will translate to the real world,” he said. “For example, we have heard a lot of complaints from computer science and other engineering students about the lack of practical coding they know when they graduate.”

Majmudar said his office is pushing the engineering dean to allow students into the entrepreneurship minor. Engineering students currently cannot enter the minor, according to the program’s website.

However, Groeling said at the discussion that it will be very difficult to change the curriculum in any way because the process is long and complicated.

The attendants also discussed holding more entrepreneurial events for students similar to Innovation Week and the UCLA Cross-campus Entrepreneurship Mixer.

The annual fall quarter Innovation Week educates people about startups and showcases companies to students. However, this year’s Innovation Week was unable to replicate the success of last year’s because of the lack of outreach made to students, said Patrick Xu, a member of TEC.

As a follow-up to Innovation Week, the group planned for the upcoming Entrepreneurship Mixer, an event which helps students network and learn from other entrepreneurs.

The conference ended with attendees reiterating the need to improve the entrepreneurship culture on campus through collaborative efforts.

“Although a shift in culture is not going to come in three or four years, we want to begin by taking small steps,” Majmudar said.

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Kim is the assistant news editor for the campus politics beat. She was previously a contributor for the beat.

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