NTNU towards acting entrepreneurial

The different engineering programs at NTNU have not seen bigger changes since 1993. Now the university wants to include more entrepreneurial activity. The project is called “Fremtidens ingeniørstudier” or the engineering programs of the future. The former dean of the Faculty of Information Technology, Mathematics, and Electrical Engineering Geir Øien is the person who has taken the reins of the project. He is picking out the key areas and people for the next two years where the first part of the project will look at the strengths and weaknesses of the current portfolio of programs at NTNU.

Engage is represented by Professor Øystein Widding, the Centre Director. This means that Engage has taken a role at the project board table to make sure that Engages viewpoints are represented and highlighted for discussion.

For this project, I’m wearing two hats. One is that of Engage and another is as a representative of NTNU School of Entrepreneurship (NSE). We will contribute with our viewpoints on education and especially our pedagogical model and leadership philosophy. We believe that people have noticed our way of working and the results that we can point to. For example, the School of Entrepreneurship and Spark*, both partners at Engage, have a lot of movement these days and when we look at the different IT programs at NTNU one can see if there are possibilities to improve the traditional model with elements from NSE.

Professor Øystein Widding is Engages Center Director

The ambition of the project is high, and it has been more than 25 years since a change this big has been implemented in the engineering programs at NTNU. Professor Widding stresses that Engages part should not be to push their methods and thoughts but rather contribute to the discussion and give new viewpoints. While the expectation is that the changes should be significant, it is important to be aware of the fact that students still should have the amount of professional knowledge that is expected of students from NTNU.

There are a lot of things that could be changed, for example how we interact with the private sector, how students are in practise, be more flexible in choosing courses. Another question is how rigid we should be. Today students are expected to have a progression, for example with Math 1, 2, 3 etc. and students become experts over the years. One can go really in depth. At schools like Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences you are more flexible, and it is the degree that counts more than the individual courses. Perhaps this is a direction we can look into.

One of Engages priorities is to provide knowledge and tools that lecturers and teachers can use in their workday to give students the knowledge and entrepreneurial skills that can be useful. Of course, within the entrepreneurship context and this could mean that Engage can contribute with “Training the Trainers” if programs are changed to include a bigger entrepreneurial focus or the pedagogical model is closer to that of NSE. As a by-product of this project Engage will get to show why Engage and entrepreneurship education is important. More research possibilities could open when a bigger part of the student mass is exposed to the methods and philosophies used and practiced at Engage and its partners.