Student Business Plan Competition Goes High Tech

08/22/03    Portland, Ore.

For the first time, some graduate students in the OGI School of Science & Engineering's Management in Science and Technology program will present their plans online

Along with their five respective teammates, Jennifer Gonzalez and Steven Jones have written a business plan from start to finish as master's students in Oregon Health & Science University's accredited management program. But when they and their teammates go to present their business plan orally this month in front of five venture capitalists and entrepreneur judges -- a graduation prerequisite -- Gonzalez will be on the OGI School of Science & Engineering campus in Hillsboro, Ore., and Jones will be in his office in northern California.

That's because for the first time, the OGI School of Science & Engineering's business plan oral presentation, known as the Jim Hurd New Venture Competition (named in honor of Hurd, the late president and chief executive officer of Planar) will incorporate an online component for master's students who are taking the Management in Science and Technology (MST) courses online. Of the 12 students competing in the August 2003 business plan competition, 11 are online students. At least three of the online students are unable to get to campus for the competition and will present their portion of the plan via an audio-conferencing hookup. Besides Jones, other students from California and Arizona will be presenting online as well.

The graduate student business plan competition, dubbed "Show Time," is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 29, 2003, from 3 to 6 p.m. on the OGI School of Science & Engineering campus in Hillsboro, Ore. Media attending the event should call ahead to make arrangements.

The OGI School of Science & Engineering first began offering online master's degrees in 1999 to complement its accredited management curriculum, which focuses on the business management of technology-intensive industries. The online program has grown in popularity, and in 2001 the OGI program was listed among U.S. News & World Report's "Best of the Online Grad Programs."

"I like the flexibility of taking courses online," said Gonzalez, 30, a process engineer at TTM Technologies in Redmond, Wash., who aspires to become a vice president of operations at a high-tech company. "I was really interested in the OGI management program because it is like getting an MBA, but more geared toward the high-tech industry.

"I heard about the program through other students at my previous company, TriQuint Semiconductor," said Gonzalez. "When I transferred to our Richardson, Texas, facility, I wasn't sure how long I'd be in Texas, so I thought taking online courses were a better fit than taking classes at a local school.

"I really like being able to work and participate in class from anywhere that I can get access to the Internet," she added. "And my professors and classmates have been great. I have learned tremendously from the group projects, and I feel they are very representative of remote teams that are a part of globalization."

Gonzalez said she misses face-to-face interaction at times, so she will make the trip south to be at the August business plan competition and meet her professors and classmates for the first time. She expects to graduate from the OGI management program in 2005.

Through a special arrangement between Applied Materials, a semiconductor development and manufacturing company with corporate headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif., CenQuest (which provides managed education services for corporations) and the OGI School of Science & Engineering, eight of Applied Materials' employees are taking the OGI online management course as a "cohort," starting and finishing the program together in lockstep fashion (other management students take courses at their own pace). This is the first time a cohort group will be involved in "Show Time." The Applied Materials students also developed their business plan from a corporate internal initiative, which hasn't been done before in the OGI program.

"There are a lot of firsts for us this time around," said Alvin Tong, Ph.D., a management professor who leads the business plan program in the OGI School of Science & Engineering. "The hybrid business plan presentation -- in person and online -- is going to be a real beta test for us. Though all of our panel of judges will be on campus for the presentation, we're also going to hook up our interim department head, Jack Raiton (M.B.A.), who will be in New York City, and my frequent guest speaker, Charles Lee (Ph.D.), who will be in Washington, D.C., to participate in "Show Time," so we can test and incorporate online judging down the road.

"This is a fun, intense event, and we expect the online portion will only add to the challenge and suspense of the contest," Tong said.

ABOUT THE OGI SCHOOL OF SCIENCE & ENGINEERING AND MST The OGI School of Science & Engineering (formerly the Oregon Graduate Institute of Science & Technology) became one of four schools of the Oregon Health & Science University in 2001 (see www.ogi.edu).

For more information about management courses at OHSU's OGI School of Science & Engineering or the capstone program, go to www.ogi.edu/MST.

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