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Why is U-M so highly ranked among North American entrepreneurship education programs? It is due in part to the dedicated education staff at the CFE and their collaboration with partners across campus. 

This team is responsible for more than 2,400 undergraduate and graduate students who annually engage with the Center for Entrepreneurship, and its practicing founders, investors, and specialists who are the faculty behind CFE’s ENTR courses, in addition to keeping advisors across campus in every school and college aware of new course offerings, reminding them of resources available to their students through the CFE, and thanking them for their hard work and guidance – and all this usually before the team has even had their morning coffee.

Chiara Swain (undergraduate focus), Dr. Charlie Keenan (graduate/PhD focus), and Christine Gordon (Assistant Director, Curriculum and Experiential Learning) manage the CFE’s classes, graduate certificate program, statewide ecosystem treks, entrepreneurial student organizations, on top of advising students on academic questions, teaching courses, facilitating workshops, and continuing to spread the assets of the Center for Entrepreneurship to partners campus-wide.

“What exactly does all this plate-spinning look like?” you may ask. Well…

Once a month Chiara and Christine attend the monthly roundtable of undergraduate faculty and staff advisors in the College of Engineering, as well as the campus-wide Entrepreneurs and Innovation Programmers meetup. Both opportunities let them hear about what’s new in various offices and share updates on the CFE’s programming. Contributing to U-M’s Advising Council is another opportunity that CFE shares with.

Every month Chiara works with Honors and Engagement to run the Minors and Specialization meeting where College of Engineering’s Immersed units meet to plan upcoming events and initiatives, like the Summer Orientation scavenger hunt in partnership with the Engineering Advising Center. Students love taking their picture with Douglas, CFE’s unicorn mascot, on their stop inside the Duderstadt Center.

“What can I do to make the most out of my experience at U-M? What skills should I gain to stand out to recruiters? Those were some of my first thoughts when, as an international student, I stepped on the U-M campus for the first time,” said Chiara. “Those same thoughts are routinely shared with me during advising appointments.”

For students looking for summer-break global experiences in entrepreneurship, CFE collaborates with International Programs in Engineering in vetting offerings for undergrads from all schools/colleges to entrepreneurship immersions – some of which include global internships. Some locations have included Denmark, Portugal, Italy, France, Israel, Singapore.

This past semester Chiara and Christine were two of ten staff members who masked up and spent time on campus to staff the Immersed Hub inside the Chrysler Center on North Campus. The offices in experiential learning, M-Immersed, provide “immersive learning opportunities that combine critical and creative thinking to provide meaningful environments for intellectual curiosity and daring innovation.” The Immersed Hub was a new initiative fall 2020 to provide students with an opportunity to meet with an Immersed Representative, in-person, during this unusual semester.

Meanwhile, over on the graduate side, Charlie participates in a meeting of graduate student advisors every month organized by the U-M Advising Council. This group shares best practices, updates about graduate student life, and professional development opportunities, informing Charlie about opportunities that might be relevant to CFE students.

Several times a semester Charlie also meets with colleagues who manage professional development opportunities for STEM graduate students and postdocs, organized by the Rackham Graduate School. Staying in the loop with Rackham helps Charlie give the most up-to-date information to optimize graduate students’ time at U-M.

“As a former Ph.D. student myself, I understand the effort, energy—and frankly stress—involved in earning a graduate degree,” said Charlie. “So I always try to empathize with current grad students and help them explore ways to make the most out of their Michigan experience.”

Ok, back to partnerships.

Did I mention that all of CFE’s ENTR courses are recognized by U-M’s Minor in Entrepreneurship, which is managed by Tim Webb over at the Ross School of Business? ’Cause they are. Also, Tim is exactly the person students should meet with when they’re interested in declaring the minor.

Did someone say advising appointments? This team meets with students all year, not just when fall and winter semester are in session. Charlie meets regularly with master’s and Ph.D. students to discuss courses and other opportunities at the CFE, including our Certificate in Innovation & Entrepreneurship. These graduate students come from every department in the College of Engineering as well as Information, Ross, Public Health, Law, LSA, SEAS, Pharmacy and the Medical school.

Chiara meets with students interested in ENTR courses from freshmen to seniors with majors in Sociology, Computer Science, ME, BME, IOE, Business Administration, Economics, Information, Communication & Media, Kinesiology and more.

On top of meeting with students, Chiara meets weekly with MPowered’s Leadership, the CFE’s sponsored student organization, as well as interfaces with the Office of Student Affairs and U-M’s Center for Campus Involvement on MPowered’s behalf.

MPowered Entrepreneurship plans their Makeathon event every year during the winter semester. This 36-hour product design competition provides materials and mentorship for competing students as well as a prize at the end. Our neighbor in the Duderstadt Center, ArtsEngine, is one of Makeathon’s biggest sponsors. Chiara, ArtsEngine’s staff, and the MPowered Leadership team work together to ensure that Makeathon teams are interdisciplinary and provide judges which provide feedback, pick a winner, and help the event continue to grow.

Even once Makeathon wraps up, Chiara and the MPowered team have already geared up for February’s Startup Career Fair (SCF). This year the career fair will be held virtually using the Career Fair Plus app and presents new opportunities for more companies and students to connect.

“For CFE, transdisciplinary initiatives and student-centered teams are at the forefront of our courses, programs, student organizations and events,” said Christine. “I am fueled by our team’s can-do attitude, our practitioners’ dedication to innovation, and, knowing that everything we do makes a difference for the student experience.”

So as you can see the entire Educate Broadly team at the CFE has their finger on the pulse of campus. They know what’s up, what’s happening, what collaboration really is.

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