Asee peer logo

Developing Engineers With An Entrepreneurial Spirit

Download Paper |


2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Learning from Entrepreneurship Programs

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.439.1 - 11.439.9



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Gerald Nelson Mississippi State University

visit author page

Gerald Nelson, an industrial engineering graduate (1974) with an MBA (1985) from Mississippi State University, began his career with a co-op experience at Rockwell International. Nelson worked five semesters with Rockwell before joining them full time after graduation as a Project Engineer and Program Manager.

Nelsons career includes former positions as Plant Manager, Trinity Industries; President and Chief Operating Officer of the Wear Resistance Group of Thermadyne Industries, Inc.; Executive Vice President of Operations, Viasystems Group, Inc.; and Chief Operating Officer of Deka Medical, Inc.

Nelson was selected as Director of the Engineering Entrepreneurship program through professional association with Dr. Wayne Bennett, Dean of the College of Engineering. The program is funded through an endowment given by MSU Alumnus and Entrepreneur Jack Hatcher of Pinehurst, NC.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Developing Engineers with an Entrepreneurial Spirit


Since the passage of the Bayh Dole Act in 1980, there has been an increase in activities in technology transfer nationwide according to the Council on Governmental Relations.1 The significant changes in the handling of Intellectual Property has enabled exclusive licensing by the universities enhancing the ability of university personnel to participate in the commercialization of technology. Over 300 public universities in the United State have since created some form of Entrepreneurship program. In 2000, under the leadership of Dean A. Wayne Bennett, Mississippi State University’s Bagley College of Engineering recognized the need to promote such a program.

The Jack Hatcher Engineering Entrepreneurship Certificate Program at Mississippi State University was initiated on February 7, 2001, with a primary investment of $1.25 million. Since its inception as the first endowed (entrepreneurship) program on the land-grant institution’s campus, the original endowment has grown to $1.5 million. Jack Hatcher, a native of Mississippi, is a 1949 civil engineering graduate from Mississippi State University who also holds a master’s degree from Georgia Tech. Hatcher founded and sold the second largest metal building company in the United States and served as CEO of Robertson –Ceco. He has remained involved in this program since the beginning as both a mentor and advisor. In March 2001, Gerald Nelson was appointed director of the entrepreneurship program, and in May 2002, he was appointed to the Hatcher Chair for Engineering Entrepreneurship. Gerald Nelson and Robert Taylor co-authored the “Mississippi State University Engineering Entrepreneurship Program,” which was presented by Dr. Taylor at the 2003 ASEE conference. This paper will focus briefly on an overview of the program to date, but will primarily address the long-term goals, the culture adjustment that is ongoing, and the strengths and weaknesses of such an endeavor.

The Vision

The vision statement for this program was a combination of the shared visions of Mr. Hatcher, Dean Wayne Bennett and the Director:

Vision of the Jack Hatcher Engineering Entrepreneurship Program

• The engineering student who is in business can receive the education and experience to pursue a technical/business career. • The entrepreneurship program provides a forum for learning Jack Hatcher and experiencing business firsthand from professionals. • The certificate process builds teamwork and communication skills in interdisciplinary project teams. • The student who desires to launch a business is provided with foundational knowledge, experience, and mentoring.

Nelson, G. (2006, June), Developing Engineers With An Entrepreneurial Spirit Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--45

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015