Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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July 01, 2024 | Tom Ballard

Future entrepreneurs and tech professionals could be attendees at one of these two Governor’s Schools

Tennessee Tech University hosting "Governor’s School for Emerging Technologies" and "Governor’s School for Technological Innovation and Business Leadership."

The rising junior and senior high school students attending Tennessee Tech University’s (TTU) Governor’s Schools this month could be the entrepreneurs and technology professionals of the future.

Each summer TTU hosts around 70 upper-level high school students collectively in its “Governor’s School for Emerging Technologies” (GSET) and “Governor’s School for Technological Innovation and Business Leadership” (GSTIBL). Out of 11 Governor’s Schools across the state, Tech is one of only three universities to host more than one.

GSTIBL is led by Tech’s College of Business and GSET is led by the College of Engineering, in partnership with the College of Education, College of Arts and Sciences, Millard Oakley STEM Center, and others.

“The participants come from all over the state. They may not know each other when they arrive, but by the time the Governor’s School is over, they don’t want to leave each other,” said Susan Wells, GSTIBL Director and Senior Lecturer of Decision Sciences and Management at TTU. That’s because Governor’s Schools offer an immersive experience to provide carefully nominated and selected high-performing students an opportunity to learn about fields that interest them while, for many, simultaneously offering college credit.

“They are actually enrolled in the university for four weeks, and they have to immerse themselves as if they were running a business – from conception to start-up – during that time. They go to classes, they work on group projects, they meet with an industry person from their project area who serves as their mentor,” Wells said.

The GSTIBL has three core focus areas: entrepreneurship, innovation and technology, culminating with a business plan for an app, product or service that the teams must pitch to “potential funders.” In the entrepreneurship area, participants will learn about business law and ethics, how to create a business plan, and see organizational behavior in action as they work in teams on their own projects. The innovation area teaches them how to think critically and creatively to create a business model, while the technology focus incorporates technology management, cybersecurity and ethical uses for artificial intelligence.

The GSET is designed to give participants experience in science, technology, engineering and math – or STEM – fields through immersion in emerging technologies and a survey of current trends in biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology and more.

The students also attend weekly field trips to cutting-edge research facilities to learn from experienced scientists and researchers. Previous partners for the high school summer enrichment program have included Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Nanoscale Science and Engineering, Arnold Engineering and Development Center, University of Tennessee Space Institute, and the Tennessee Aquarium.

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