In the expanding universe of tech enterprises, there’s a growing need for real-world leaders who possess both a skillset in management and commerce and a deep knowledge of technology. Until now, tech innovators and entrepreneurs have usually come from one school or another — either business or engineering. But starting in the fall of 2017, Berkeley will welcome a new breed: students who can graduate with both specialties and two bachelor’s degrees in just four years.
“Our industry partners tell us they face a significant gap in their search for talent,” says Shankar Sastry, dean of Berkeley Engineering. “Those with technical backgrounds need the expertise to bring a great idea to market, while those with business backgrounds must have a stronger grasp of the technologies that drive innovation.”
A fast track for future tech leaders
In response, the college has joined forces with the Haas School of Business to offer the Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology (M.E.T.) program for students who aspire to create new companies or become innovative leaders within existing ones. The program will launch with two tracks: either business and electrical engineering and computer sciences, or business and industrial engineering and operations research. The new program admits freshmen to Berkeley-Haas for the first time; up until now, all students entered Haas in their junior year.
The curriculum will offer a selection of liberal arts, business and engineering courses led by stellar faculty and will also include hands-on design and industry internships. M.E.T. is the latest addition to the college’s robust innovation ecosystem, which includes the Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership, Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology and incubators and accelerators like SkyDeck and the CITRIS Foundry.
The perfect combination of talent and location
The M.E.T. program offers students the chance to study in two top-tier schools: U.S. News & World Report currently ranks Berkeley-Haas as number two and Berkeley Engineering as number three in the country. In addition, both schools enjoy strong connections with Silicon Valley and other global hubs of innovation, a geographical advantage that will continue to enrich the new program.
“We’re launching this new degree smack-dab in the center of the Bay Area, a major driver of world technology,” says Berkeley-Haas Dean Rich Lyons. “No other program can offer that kind of advantage.”
Christine Ho (B.S.’05, M.S.’07, Ph.D.’10) and Brooks Kincaid (M.B.A.’11), co-founders of Imprint Energy (see below), represent the best of Berkeley’s top-tier programs in engineering and business, just like the new M.E.T. undergraduate program. (Photos by Noah Berger)
Imprint Energy: Supercharged collaboration
Christine Ho knows better than most how powerful a partnership between the College of Engineering and the Haas School of Business can be. As a graduate student she recognized that battery performance was constraining the design and application of portable electronic devices. So she invented a new battery chemistry and process to simultaneously fabricate and place batteries onto wireless sensors just one centimeter square. In addition to powering the tiniest smart devices, this technology will potentially enhance a range of energy applications, including medical devices, wearables and always-connected Internet of Things gadgets.
In 2010, Ho enrolled in a Berkeley-Haas “Cleantech to Market” course, which matched promising inventors with business, law and public policy students. One partner turned out to be a former high-school classmate, Brooks Kincaid. The two decided to enter Ho’s battery in a Berkeley Venture Lab competition sponsored by what’s now the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology. They won the competition and officially launched Imprint Energy in 2011.
“A program that provides both sets of skills will be incredibly powerful for the future of innovation.”
– Christine Ho | Materials scientist and co-founder, Imprint Energy
“When we first met, it felt like Brooks and I came from different worlds,” Ho says. “His business background and acumen were in sharp contrast to my technical training. Our work together forced us to learn each other’s languages and articulate to each other in a more understandable way. We became more confident and proficient at communicating both scientific and business concepts, which was critical as we gathered momentum to start Imprint Energy.”
Today, Imprint Energy is revolutionizing battery technology from its Alameda facility, where 12 employees manufacture and distribute products utilizing its trademarked zinc-based rechargeable battery technology called ZincPoly.
“So much of what I do sits at the intersection of business and science, and I would have greatly benefited from the training and exposure of an M.E.T. degree,” says Ho. “I learned a lot about business and entrepreneurship from working with Brooks, but having a formal program that provides both sets of skills will be incredibly powerful for the future of innovation.”