Brown University School of Engineering

Entrepreneurship in the School of Engineering

Innovative, open-ended problem solving is deeply embedded in our programs. This thought process is naturally in alignment with entrepreneurship. The ideas and skills learned in our classes help students take theoretical concepts and translate them in real world marketable products and startup companies.

Brown has been a leader in entrepreneurial education, and several startup companies have been formed by Brown alumni. Entrepreneurial classes are taught at the undergraduate level through the BEO program and at the master's level through the PRIME and IE Brown MBA programs.

Roots of Entrepreneurial Education

Professor Barrett Hazeltine arrived at Brown University in 1959 and for more than 50 years has been the face of entrepreneurship on the Brown campus. Formally trained as an electrical engineer, Hazeltine has taught business management classes since the mid-1960s, and served as an advocate and mentor to hundreds of students. Through his famous “Engine 9” and “Engine 90” classes and independent study projects, Hazeltine has helped inspire countless entrepreneurs. Some began by writing the business plans for their ventures in his classes, while others sought him out for advice, encouragement, or a connection. Some of the alumni and companies Professor Hazeltine has mentored include (partial list):

  • Nantucket Nectars (Beverages) – Tom First ’89 and Tom Scott ’89
  • Clearview (Software)- Steve Glenn 87 
  • Andera (Banking software) – Charles Kroll 01 
  • The Steel Yard (Community for Artists) – Clayton Rockefeller 03 
  • Amie Street (now Songza) (Music distribution) – Elias Roman 06 
  • Rip Van Wafels (Food) – Abhishek Pruisken 10 

Read more about Barrett Hazeltine:
Brown Alumni Magazine
Hazeltine’s Way – May/June 2000

Entrepreneurial Education Today

Warshay led a workshop for Palestinian entrepreneurs in Ramallah on the West Bank.Warshay led a workshop for Palestinian entrepreneurs in Ramallah on the West Bank. An entrepreneur himself, engineering lecturer Danny Warshay ’87 has built and sold 16 companies (acquired by Apple, Time, and others) and has built upon the legacy set by Professor Hazeltine. He has developed and taught, ENGN1010 – The Entrepreneurial Process: Innovation in Practice, one of the highest rated courses at Brown that has enjoyed popularity with concentrators and non-concentrators alike. Several of the students in the class have gone on to win the Rhode Island Elevator Pitch Competition and the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition. The course discusses how to transform ideas into opportunities, and, through a deliberate process, opportunities into commercial realities. Some of the top companies launched from his course include Runa, Fanium, 305Fitness, Premama and Dear Kate.

Warshay has led entrepreneurship and innovation workshops in various academic, governmental and business contexts all over the world in places as diverse as Egypt, Bahrain, Portugal, China, Slovenia, and South Africa.

Read more about Danny Warshay:
The Way to Teach Peace in the Middle East

Learning Environment

Brown Design Workshop

The Brown Design Workshop is a new learning space on campus designed to provide a collaborative and creative environment for project-based learning. Open to all of Brown and RISD, the space houses a new set of rapid prototyping equipment, allowing students the opportunity to bridge the gap between theory and practice by framing projects as a response to their own curiosities and interests, thus uniting classroom and experiential learning. Courses are being designed, and redesigned, to take advantage of these new capabilities. Workshops are being held for the whole campus, to introduce our students to these amazing new capabilities.

Degree Programs

For Undergraduates

The C.V. Starr Program in Business, Entrepreneurship, and Organizations (BEO) is a multidisciplinary undergraduate concentration sponsored by the Departments of Economics and Sociology and the School of Engineering. BEO aims to give students a coordinated, interactive approach to examining problems in the work place, formulating solutions, and suggesting actions. These skills, grounded in a strong liberal arts tradition, prepare students to work in many areas, corporations, start-up ventures, local services, non-profit institutions and governmental entities. Our recent graduates have chosen to pursue careers in finance, management consulting, social services and the arts, or to continue on to graduate schools in law and business.

For Master's Students

The Program in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship (PRIME) master's degree focuses on developing the skills of science and engineering graduates so as to prepare them to more efficiently participate in a complex and highly competitive technology-driven economy, based on the development of innovative, embryonic ideas. These skills are in demand by technology-based companies, or can lead to the creation of start-up ventures. PRIME students learn to use emerging science and technology as a basis for the creation of commercial value and new ventures. The program, led by Professor Eric Suuberg and Professor Angus Kingon, offers students a strong grounding in how to start and grow a technology-based business in a dynamic, competitive, global marketplace.

For Senior Executives

IE Brown Executive MBA is a highly innovative program designed to provide senior managers with the opportunity to develop and broaden their management and leadership skills in an intensive, international environment. The program brings together faculty from two leading academic institutions, integrating leading management thinking with wider perspectives from the humanities, social sciences, engineering, and life sciences. The program is based on a unique interdisciplinary approach, and was specifically developed by leading faculty members from IE and Brown to help participants excel in an ever more complex and challenging global economy. The program combines the very best of both schools' vast experience and expertise. the shared values of both institutions, including a distinctly international focus, a strong commitment to the value of diversity and an entrepreneurial mindset, are strengthened even further through this partnership.