Entrepreneur Studio will immerse students in startup culture

Select engineering management juniors and seniors will see firsthand in a new spring semester course how local entrepreneurs try to unleash their startups’ potential.


Entrepreneur Studio will be run as a three credit hour studio and lab. Students will be matched with a startup company being incubated in the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, where they also will attend seminars and classes. Entrepreneur Studio (ENGM 292.02) is the adaptation of managerial studies 290.

“Students will be expected to work with their startup partner roughly eight hours a week,” said Christopher Rowe, associate professor of the practice of engineering management, director of General Engineering, and one of three faculty members leading the course.

Cherrie Clark, associate professor of the practice of managerial studies and director of the Managerial Studies Program in the College of Arts and Science, and Michael Burcham, president and CEO of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center who also teaches in Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management, also will work with students in the studio course.


“The hands-on experience helps students internalize the concepts taught in our classrooms and prepares them to make good career choices at the end of their Vanderbilt education,” said Clark. “Students will observe the ‘front lines’ of the startup culture,” Rowe said.

“Active weekly participation and immersion with their partner company and the feedback from the company will determine a portion of their grade.” The major portion of the students’ course grade will be determined by a final assignment: a business analysis of their partner company where they will evaluate the company’s business model and launch plan.

Clark knows the course will be mutually beneficial. “Companies benefit from the students’ research and business skills and they gain another team member.  Students benefit by seeing a company grow from the beginning stages to launch over the course of a semester,” said Clark.


“We’re happy to have students in the Entrepreneur Studio join us at the center,” said Burcham, who is the faculty director and creative leader behind Accelerator, Vanderbilt’s Summer Business Institute, an intensive immersion in business designed exclusively for undergraduates and recent graduates in all majors.

The motivation to create Entrepreneur Studio stems from student feedback regarding interest in high-tech startups, Dean Philippe Fauchet’s desire to grow the entrepreneurial culture of the engineering school, and the desire of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center to advance its educational mission, Rowe said.

“The convergence of these three issues along with our ongoing efforts to collaborate across department and school lines at Vanderbilt made this the perfect opportunity to piggyback on the existing course in managerial studies while tailoring it to the engineering school’s clientele,” Rowe said.

At this point, enrollment is capped at 10 students but it will grow as student demand and the capacity of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center dictates, Rowe said.

Students must express strong interest in the studio course by meeting certain course pre-requisites, providing a written recommendation from a member of the engineering management faculty and submitting an essay and a resume.