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The University of Virginia Holds Entrepreneurship Competition

The University of Virginia took a big step this week towards being as entrepreneur-friendly as other top institutions like Stanford and MIT are by sponsoring the U.Va. Cup competition, with $35,000 in prize money up for grabs.

The winners were Adam Malcom and Scott Kasen of U.Va's Engineering School, with a belt-based live preserver concept that is "more comfortable, unobtrusive and wearable than typical personal flotation devices."  Their design had previously won first place in a 2006 international competition by the Boat U.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and the Personal Flotation Device Manufacturers Association.

Competitions like this are key to encouraging entrepreneurism at an institution like U.Va.  When I graduated from the McIntire School of Commerce in 1998, the school was mostly a feeder school for the large investment banks in New York.  Being an entrepreneur at U.Va. in the late 90's was a very lonely experience, exacerbated by the institutions's attitude that as a public university, its hands were tied as to how proactive it could be in encouraging private endeavors like entrepreneurism.  In fact, I encountered quite a bit of resistance from the University while I was there.

Fortunately, these attitudes are changing.  One only need look to MIT and Stanford as models of how an academic + private partnership can bear tremendous fruit.  Companies like Yahoo and Google are a result of their founder's time at Stanford.  And it turns into a virtuous cycle, as Jerry Yang's $75MM pledge back to Stanford shows.

Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal summed it up well in this article:

Thinking like an Entrepreneur has made me a better teacher

On The Land of Math

Maybe it was my first copy of Entrepreneur Magazine. Maybe it was listening to the Steve Jobs commencement address at Stanford University. Perhaps it was the first time I listened to This Week in Startups. Somewhere I had a fundamental change in how I approached teaching.

As a middle school math teacher I have sat through my share of professional development.The result was very little developing as a professional. In almost every situation I left feeling like I just wasted a day of my life.One year we were pulled out of the classroom for 8 days which resulted in a binder that I tossed in my desk – never to be used. (I did actually throw out the papers and use the binder for other things so I guess it wasn’t a total loss).

As I began to discover the entrepreneurial world my teaching mindset began to dramatically change. In the world of the entrepreneur was exciting, fast paced and constant change.The world of education was generally boring and slow to evolve.I wanted my educational and entrepreneurial world’s to collide.

Below are some of the different lessons I have adapted from entrepreneur world to the educationalworld.Many are not Earth shaking, but it is amazing how little of this is done in education.

Beginwith the end user in mind

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