I attended a research event in the Technological University of the Philippines’ (TUP) Electrical Department recently where I was a keynote speaker and part of the board of judges. My fellow judges and I assessed the research presentations of engineering students where they presented their machine prototypes. Some of these machines have already been deployed to the university’s community beneficiaries.

Originally published athttps://triplebtl.wordpress.com

The caveat though, as what is present in most other educational institutions, is that these machines would usually be shelved away once the students graduate. It could be due to a variety of factors including the difficulty of establishing terms and profit-sharing with partner organizations, partner communities not wanting to adopt the technology, lack of entrepreneurial drive of engineering students, lack of capital, and lack of market access, to name a few.

These are all valid issues and challenges, but what I want to look at specifically is the lack of entrepreneurial drive among engineering students.

For starters, many engineering students just want to get college or university life over with, and find a job later on to tend to their families’ needs. It’s a reality.

One of the professors in TUP mentioned to me that they already tried introducing a technopreneurship elective in their engineering curriculum, but only a handful of students were interested to pursue it.

So then it begs the question: how do you ignite that entrepreneurial drive among engineering students so that they won’t be the usual job seekers?

Not that there’s anything wrong with being job seekers, but the reality is that many of our engineers in the country either become skilled workers abroad or stay in the country to work for someone. I just think they’re going towards a different direction when they become purely job seekers, because engineers are meant to create something tangible to benefit society.

So again, what can be done?

For one, several state universities and colleges in the country are undergoing incubation programs. These programs are at varying stages, from conceptualization down to some that are already functional.

But again the challenge is on how to entice engineering students to become entrepreneurs — it is something that surely can’t be forced upon them.

The approach I want to take, however, is on enlightening them on society’s problems today. In my talk, my topic was about how to transform existing and emerging technologies into sustainable businesses. I just wanted to send across one very simple message: that the technologies these engineering students create can be used as valuable tools to form sustainable businesses.

I wanted to give the engineering students another perspective on how they can bring their machines to fruition by looking for a market, creating a business model, and refining their prototype, to name a few. Later on, it’s up to them whether or not this entrepreneurial path would entice them, because let’s face it — they can still create impact along the way by working for someone.

My only hope, however, and this is something I reiterate in my blog — is that we continue to find sustainable solutions to society’s problems. Technology is but one enabler of that.

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