IBHE approves Innovation, Leadership and Engineering Entrepreneurship degree

9/27/2016 6:35:34 PM Mike Koon

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Engineering has formally launched a new dual-degree program in Innovation, Leadership and Engineering Entrepreneurship. On Tuesday, the Illinois Board of Higher Education approved the degree, which will open next semester for students in the College of Engineering or in the major of chemical engineering in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Students in the ILEE BS Degree program get hands-on, real-world experience in the core courses.
Students in the ILEE BS Degree program get hands-on, real-world experience in the core courses.

Engineering at Illinois announced plans to offer the degree in May after gaining initial approval from the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. Already about 60 students have indicated their intentions to pursue an ILEE degree, a second bachelor’s degree option for those completing their degree in one of the College of Engineering traditional disciplines. The degree combines the technical expertise from Illinois’ world-renowned engineering program with a deeper set of innovation and leadership skills.

The ILEE degree grows out of a host of courses and programming that have been offered by the College’s Technology Entrepreneur Center since 2000. Today more than 1,000 students take at least one TEC course each year, and participation has doubled in just the last five years.

The degree gives formal recognition to the work being done by undergraduate students, who as early as their freshman year are active in entrepreneurship through such programs at the Cozad New Venture competition. The competition’s graduates, like Adam Tilton, co-founder and CEO of Rithmio, have successfully garnered millions of dollars in funding to advance their companies.

The ILEE degree is an example of how Engineering at Illinois continues to strengthen its entrepreneurial ecosystem. Last year, the College announced the Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellows program, which gives faculty financial resources and time away from their classroom and committee obligations to pursue commercialization of their innovations. Rather than that pursuit happening elsewhere, it does so on campus with  strong student involvement.

The College has also partnered with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business to foster startups with members from each university. It gives those startups access to resources on both campuses.

In announcing the launch of the ILEE degree in May, Andreas Cangellaris, dean of the College of Engineering said, “Today’s students are already heavily investing their time and energy in entrepreneurship and innovation as they study engineering. It is our job to amplify that and make sure our students can use that energy to have world-changing impact.”

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For more information on this story or for other College of Engineering media inquiries, contact Mike Koon, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, 217/244-1256