Logo: University of Southern California

SITeC Students Start

Undergraduate Minor and Graduate Certificate Programs Now Up and Running

July 11, 2005 —

Just eight months old, USC’s Mark and Mary Stevens Institute for Technology Commercialization has already begun enrolling students, undergraduate and graduate, for innovative multidisciplinary programs in entrepreneurship.

Venture capitalist and USC alumnus Mark Stevens funded SITeC with a $22 million gift announced November 11, 2004. In the short time since, SITeC has placed two curricula in place and will begin training students in all aspects of turning research into products when USC classes begin August 22.

“We are proud that SITeC has moved with entrepreneurial speed to begin its academic mission,” said Yannis Yortsos, dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

Peter Beerel, an associate professor in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering who is SITeC’s faculty director of educational programs, said that SITeC’s initial undergraduate and graduate offerings are ambitious curricula that “are based on courses from both the USC Marshall School of Business and the Viterbi School of Engineering. They cover all aspects — economic, technological, legal and management — of commercializing new engineering ideas.”

At the undergraduate level, a new minor in Engineering Technology Commercialization includes a Deans’ Seminar in Entrepreneurship,  jointly taught by the USC Marshall and Viterbi schools, that will present highly distinguished guest speakers in a variety of fields of engineering and entrepreneurship speaking about their commercialization experience. "We hope that the direct contact with men and women who have done it — who have bridged the gap between the lab and the market — will encourage and embolden students," Beerel said.
The minor includes required business courses in technology entrepreneurship, cases in new ventures, and an elective in business plans for the would-be entrepeneur. The required engineering courses include engineering economy and engineering law, the latter covering issues from business formation to intellectual property.  Finally, the curriculum includes elective courses in specific areas of commercialization, such as biomedical devices that discusses the regulatory aspects of introducing new medical devices to the market place. 

The minor is open to students in all USC schools, though the Deans’ Seminar requires course approval for non-engineers.

At the graduate level, SITeC offers a certificate program, which will teach students with engineering or other degrees how to evaluate ideas and inventions, and also, said Beerel, “giving would-be entrepreneurs the confidence to succeed.” Required courses include such offerings as “Introduction to New Ventures,”  taught by the Marshall School, and the Viterbi School's “Strategic Management of Technology."

The "Introduction to New Ventures" course includes a "live case study" in which teams of engineers and business students will evaluate, analyze, and develop recommendations for an existing USC technology-based start-up. The graduate certificate also includes electives in engineering project management, managing engineering teams, and business plan development.
The graduate program is available to both on-campus students as well as off-campus students via the Viterbi School's innovative Distance Education Network (DEN).

"Our mission is to foster the entrepreneurial and commercialization spirit in USC engineers and scientists and we’ve just begun,” said Beerel, “Come back and see what we’ll have in two years.”

For right now, though, Beerel urged students to check out the program on the SITeC website at