For many reasons, I am surprised to find myself at WPI. Previously, I lived in my hometown and was employed at my alma mater, never intending to leave. But WPI presented an opportunity that was too exciting to miss. This is an institution that stresses innovation and entrepreneurship, and those have been the focus of my career. The environment here is vigorous and challenging. Students expect to work hard and to be exposed to new ideas. The emphasis on project-based learning is a marvelous fit with the entrepreneurial mindset.
It was also a pleasure to find an academic institution that avoided the classic problem that we call silos. In many schools, people in different disciplines fail to interact, collaborate, and value one another’s contributions. WPI has fostered a cooperative environment. I was immediately welcomed by faculty in a variety of departments across campus. Many were anxious to learn how their students might benefit from exposure to the concepts associated with creating their own ventures or being the entrepreneur within a larger organizational setting. This is a school that encourages experimentation in education, allowing faculty to test new ideas and practices.
Finally, WPI provides students a tremendous introduction to the global society in which they will live, work, and, hopefully, prosper. Students from an extraordinary range of countries come into contact with each other on this campus. Thanks to the project-based approach, they gain hands-on experience in cross-cultural cooperation. Many spend extensive periods thanks to interdisciplinary qualifying projects or other forms of exchange.
Additionally, there is diversity among the faculty. Thanks to my specialization in entrepreneurship, universities and government agencies in other countries seek my advice in education and economic development because the United States is seen as the leader in nurturing entrepreneurial behavior.
Thus, I frequently travel to other countries. This exposure translates back to the classroom as I am able to share my observations and experiences. Similar opportunities are available to other WPI faculty members. This prevents us from limiting the students’ education to the domestic environment. They must be prepared to succeed in the global economy.