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Incorporating Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Selling I&E to Your Department and Administration

Why should a physics department incorporate I&E in their students’ experience? Why should administrators support these efforts? First and foremost, innovation and entrepreneurship will make physics more attractive to incoming students, especially nontraditional students. As we discussed, if physics is to attract more diverse students, it must demonstrate itself to be a discipline that has positive effects on the world—something that physics is well placed to do but does not explicitly promote. As the high school graduating classes become more diverse and as competition for students across institutions and between disciplines becomes tougher, PIE can help sustain and grow physics. Graduating larger numbers of ever more successful students will reflect back on the department and institution—in terms of both reputation as well as donations and the potential for future partnerships and alumni support.

Successfully Integrating PIE Into Physics Programs: Recommendations for Chairs and Deans

The previous section introduced a few of the myriad ways that PIE can be incorporated into the student experience. Convincing your department to do so may be a challenge. Here are ways you might approach it. Department chairs or deans can apply many of these tactics.

  • Create a welcoming environment for PIE implementation, emphasizing how no physics is lost in the process, the potential for increased physics enrollment, and improved student outcomes.
  • Start small! Begin in some classes with like-minded faculty, and take advantage of student enthusiasm—they are your greatest supporters.
  • Hold workshops/retreats/professional development activities to introduce PIE to your faculty and to provide the background and training to allow them to incorporate it into their courses.
  • Send faculty to attend meetings of organizations/societies that promote innovation and entrepreneurship education such as VentureWell.
  • Bring, whether in person or by video, physics graduates employed in industry (such as your department alumni) to meet and speak with faculty and showcase the career needs for graduates. Work with the alumni relations office on campus to connect graduates to your department efforts.
  • Reach out to chairs/deans/faculty across other departments/colleges on your campus to leverage their expertise and abilities for your students. Invite faculty from other departments into your classes as guest speakers or for team teaching. Many are already looking for ways to connect.
  • Reach out to regional industries to create partnerships. Doing so can lead to site visits, industry speakers, student internships, research projects, and a better understanding of the application of physics in these domains.
  • Educate the admissions office about the opportunities that physics offers to students that lead to successful and lucrative careers.
  • Support faculty who are sourcing money from nontraditional funders, including industrial partners. This may require reviewing and adapting campus intellectual property policies.
Supporting PIE