By Natalie Kouba
Entrepreneurship can be quite rewarding, but it’s difficult to be successful without encountering a few challenges along the way.
The Engineering Alumni Mentoring Program, a program by the School of Engineering that matches engineering students with alumni mentors, sponsored a panel discussion and shared their experiences with entrepreneurship in the field of engineering on Wednesday, Feb. 22 in Mildred & Ernest E. Mayo Concert Hall. Five alumni, as well as one professor at the College, presented their journeys to success and answered questions asked by the audience.
Steven Schreiner, professor of electrical and computer engineering, began the panel discussion by introducing the theme of the event. The inspiration for the title of the event, the “Pursuit of Entrepreneurship,” came from this year’s campus-wide theme of the Pursuit of Innovation. Schreiner quoted the National Academy of Engineering stating, “No profession unleashes the spirit of innovation like engineering.”
A brief introduction and short bio was then given for each member of the panel. The panel members then spoke for five minutes each to expand on their stories and provide the audience with background information of their professional successes and struggles.
Paul Andrews, ’84, became aware of the struggles he would encounter pursuing a career in engineering. At one point he said he sent out 100 applications, receiving 99 rejection letters and one interview. Then in 2003 he started Princeton Server Group, which grew in customers and eventually brought in approximately $2 million annually.
Matthew Robinson and William Parkhill graduated in 2002 and 2003, respectively, with degrees in mechanical engineering. Both found themselves later working in civil engineering and became founding partners and principals of the Mid Atlantic Engineering Partners.
Thomas Krol, ’02, began his work in college by focusing on co-creating a voice control telephone for an elderly friend who had Lou Gehrig’s disease. In 2000 Krol founded IMET Corporations.
College electrical engineering professor Craig Wentzel encouraged aspiring entrepreneurs to “overcome failure. It’s hard.”
Allen Katz, electrical engineering professor at the College and founder and president of Linearizer Inc. talked about the “four rights” one needs to be successful as an entrepreneur. “The right people, the right product, the right attitude, and the right luck” are all vital elements to success, he said.
A question and answer session conducted by Debra Kelly from the Career Center followed. Someone asked for the best advice for a young entrepreneur. “There are people who always say, ‘You can’t do that’ or ‘That’s impossible’ … I’d prove them wrong,” he said. “It’s actually more fun.”