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VMI Launches Entrepreneurship Program

cadet at table doing classwork

VMI has launched a two-year pilot program called the Summer Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Program as a starting point for entrepreneurship education. It has been established for cadets who possess the mindset of an entrepreneur, regardless of academic major. Through support from the Jackson-Hope Fund, cadets participating in the program will receive three tuition-free elective credits, with room and board provided at no cost.

According to Col. Clifford West, Ph.D, Department of Economics and Business professor, SUEP consists of a five-week summer course, field trips to startup companies and incubators, and interaction with guest speakers from alumni and business leaders. “The vast majority of Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accredited programs are already teaching entrepreneurship, and we should also offer support for our cadets on this front,” he said.

Collaborative partnerships with private and military organizations are an integral part of the initiative. “We have already established partnerships with Shenandoah Community Capital Fund, an entrepreneurial support organization in Staunton, and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Maryland. We hope these are the first of many partnerships,” stated West.

Anika Horn, Ecosystem Building director at SCCF shared, “SCCF is excited to tap into the creative minds of cadets to tackle real-world problems while equipping them with an entrepreneurial mindset. Seeing the world through the lens of an entrepreneur and applying lean startup principles to develop and test solutions is a skill that benefits any cadet throughout their career. SCCF looks forward to introducing cadets to local entrepreneurs and giving them a real sense for what it’s like to serve their community.”

Brig. Gen. Robert W. Moreschi, Ph.D., dean of the faculty and deputy superintendent for academics, shared that SUEP is an opportunity to further develop an innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem in support of cadet development and academic opportunity. “Whether in the military or civilian workplace, cadets will be employed in organizations that value innovative thinking and action. Entrepreneurial-minded reasoning, coupled with the honest and honorable character of a cadet, is an unbeatable combination. Members of the Jackson-Hope Board of Overseers, themselves successful business leaders and innovators, understand the program’s benefits and enthusiastically agree to support the initiative. VMI’s academic program is grateful for the board’s encouragement and financial assistance,” he said.