The STEM-preneur consortium will address novel ways to combine STEM education with the skills and passion of entrepreneurship.

By giving technical students the skills of an entrepreneur, and giving entrepreneurial students more technical understanding, the STEM disciplines become more relevant, appealing, and more students are prepared to tackle the big challenges in

society. This consortium is led by Tsinghua University, School of Economics & Management, (China).

STEM-preneur in Action

Business math at Conestoga College

Making the connection between math and business engages at-risk math students and helps them learn successfully.

Math has been the bane of many a student’s existence – but help is at hand. Students in the Business Foundations and Ontario Business programs at the Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning are receiving help in building their math and business skills by taking part in the college’s HP Catalyst project "Business Math".

This project is part of the HP Catalyst STEM-preneur consortium. Studies have shown that a significant percentage of first semester students either fail or barely pass mathematics, which puts them at risk of not completing their chosen program.

The Conestoga Catalyst project targets these students. A business math lab, which includes 45 HP Elite Tablets, an interactive white board and use of online learning tools, videos, and collaborative software, will serve as the cornerstone of the project.

Connecting math concepts to entrepreneurship and the business world helps students see the real life relevance of what they are learning.

"We’re using technology and a variety of different means to improve these students’ base skills in math so when they continue on they’ll be more successful", says faculty member Lisa Koster. "We’re also trying to connect math concepts to entrepreneurship and the business world so that students can see the real life relevance of what they are learning. For example, we regularly have entrepreneurs come in to talk to us about how they use math in their day-to-day business dealings."

With this in mind, hands-on workshops in budgeting and business planning will be offered in addition to math tutorials for struggling students.

In the second phase of the project, a mini-lab consisting of ten HP Elite Tablet PCs will be deployed to support the addition of more business math courses.

Koster and her team received the HP Elite Tablet PCs late in the Fall 2011 semester, and implemented them in business math classes. While it is early in the project’s life cycle, Koster is already seeing the positive impact the tablets have in the classroom.

"With the tablets in front of them the students are more involved", says Koster. One student put it perfectly. He said: "with the tablet in front of me, I can’t help but pay attention."

Business cradle for technical students

The HP Catalyst Initiative helps technical students develop their entrepreneurship skills.

In Russia, students pursuing technical subjects often don’t have the opportunity to gain practical business knowledge. The Saratov State Technical University (SSTU) is addressing this issue by creating online courses designed to help students develop entrepreneurship skills and ultimately start their own businesses.

Part of HP Catalyst Initiative’s STEM-preneur consortium, the Business cradle for technical students project includes basic courses in e-commerce, project management, marketing, financial management, human resources, and computer technology.

Students working toward their bachelor’s and master’s degrees will work together to generate new business ideas and launch small companies. Web portals—made possible with HP technology—are helping the young entrepreneurs collaborate, learn online, and maintain social networks.

At least ten business teams will go on to start small companies.

Dr. Olga Dolinina
Dean, International Faculty of Applied Information Technologies, Saratov State Technical University

Dr. Olga Dolinina, Dean, International Faculty of Applied Information Technologies, leads her SSTU team in this pioneering project. In the first stage of the project, the team created the course curriculum and teaching material. Teachers will now focus on cultivating practical entrepreneurship skills in their students. "We’ll be helping students to develop their business concepts and plans. And we’ll form at least ten business teams which will go on to start small companies", says Dolinina.

The SSTU team has also established dynamic local partnerships that will play a crucial role in the project’s success. "We have agreements with several companies who have volunteered to mentor and work with our students in the Business Cradle."

The HP Catalyst Initiative grant has provided SSTU with a range of technology, including laptops and mobile devices. "We’re providing special courses in the use of mobile technologies and we’ll teach students how to use technology in their businesses", says Dolinina. "This includes the use of various web technologies to build web-oriented applications."

The Business Cradle project will also feature HP Virtual Rooms, an online environment for meetings, brainstorming, team collaboration, and training. "HP Virtual Rooms will allow us to combine lectures in the classroom with education through webinars" ,she says. "It’s an invaluable tool."