Being an educator is an integral part of who I am as a person not just a professional.  I knew from a very young age that I would eventually do something related to education with my life, but for a long time I wasn't sure if education was the career path for me. My experience as an teacher began when I was in elementary school, helping my friends and classmates with schoolwork they didn't understand. This continued throughout my K-12 schooling and even into college. Additionally, I was able to participate in other forms of education-related activities such as coaching football, training new employees at work, and leading Bible study.  Little did I know it would take me an additional 10+ years to figure out that I needed to stop fighting what had been tugging at my heart and mind for years and finally embrace who I am, an educator. 

Here's a quick example of me handling a few administrative items and explaining the day's objectives to students in The Startup Class

Professional Development and Certifications

  • Rising Engineering Education Faculty Fellowship (REEFF), 2013
    •    Explored the use of case studies to teach entrepreneurship in engineering design courses
    •    Studied the personal and professional development of graduate students
  • Lean LaunchPad Educators Program, NCIIA (now VentureWell), 2012
  • Ice House Entrepreneurship Facilitator Training, The Kauffman Foundation, 2012
  • UTEACH Engineering - Summer Institute, University of Texas at Austin, 2010
  • Certified Texas Educator - 8-12 Grade Math/Physics

Course Development

Upon initially arriving at Virginia Tech, I was able to teach in the VT Engineering Education first-year engineering program. The following semester I began working as a graduate assistant in a role that focused on understanding and developing entrepreneurship education efforts at Virginia Tech.  This work has resulted in the development and implementation of two entrepreneurship education pilot courses.  Each of these pilot courses are still being offered and developed at Virginia Tech.

 Students from the ITLM course participating in Blacksburg Startup Weekend

Students from the ITLM course participating in Blacksburg Startup Weekend

Course One: Innovation and the Technology Leader's Mindset (ITLM)

Along with my supervisor, Dr. Jack Lesko, I have had the opportunity to develop multiple courses merging entrepreneurship and engineering concepts.  The ITLM course encourages and challenges students to explore and develop the concepts and skills needed to become future innovators and technology leaders.  Key components covered include: the characteristics of successful technology leaders and entrepreneurs; divergent thinking; dealing with uncertainty, confusion, and risk; validating assumptions; teamwork; and communication. Students utilized group interaction with peers and other VT/Blacksburg community members to enhance leadership skills, solve problems, analyze opportunities, and develop innovative ideas.

 The Business Model Canvas - www.steveblank.com

The Business Model Canvas - www.steveblank.com

Course Two: The Startup Class - funded by the VentureWell (formerly NCIIA)

This course provides students real world, hands-on learning related to actually starting a scalable company. This class is not about how to write a business plan, although strong startup tangibles result from taking this course (i.e., storyboards, business models). It’s not an exercise on how smart students are in a classroom, or how well they use the research library to size markets. The end result is not a PowerPoint slide deck for a venture capitalist presentation. This is a practical class – essentially a lab, not a theory or “book” class. The goal, within the constraints of a classroom and a limited amount of time, is to create an entrepreneurial experience for students with all of the pressures and demands of the real world in an early-stage startup. Students get their hands dirty talking to customers, partners, competitors, as they encounter the chaos and uncertainty of how a startup actually works. Students work in teams learning how to turn a great idea into a great company. They learn how to use a business model to brainstorm each part of a company and customer development to get out of the classroom to see whether anyone other than the students would want/use your product. Each day is a new adventure outside the classroom as students test their business model hypotheses and then share their hard-earned knowledge with the rest of the class. Students network extensively with startup-minded peers, experienced business leaders, and local/national mentors. Finally, students develop competitive submissions and participate in business competitions to potentially obtain funding for their companies

 A student's rendition of "the startup onion."

A student's rendition of "the startup onion."