Business-plan competition caps classes, delivers lessons about starting a company
Someday Ryan Bishman wants to manage his own company. So the design outsourcing engineer for Hewlett-Packard in Vancouver, Wash., figured he needed an M.B.A. But with his full work schedule and monthly weekend duties as an Army reservist, the idea of going back to school was daunting.
Then Bishman heard about the accredited management program at OHSU's OGI School of Science & Engineering in Hillsboro, Ore. The management courses in the school's Department of Management in Science and Technology (MST) focus solely on technology-intensive businesses and are geared primarily toward working professionals' busy schedules.
Students like Bishman take degree courses on Friday nights and Saturday mornings for three to four weeks. There are also weeknight courses for professionals who do less midweek traveling, and online courses for students who can't get to campus.
"We've designed our management courses to fit just about anyone's schedule," said Fred Phillips, Ph.D., professor and head of the MST department. "Our students tell us that they appreciate the flexibility and intensity of the courses."
Bishman enrolled in the management program in the fall of 1999.
"I liked the high-tech focus of the courses at the OGI School of Science & Engineering," he said. "The people in the courses and the people who teach the courses are all associated with high-tech, so everyone has a different, but relevant perspective to the industry."
Phillips points out that high-tech businesses have unique management needs. "Oregon has historically had a dearth of qualified senior-level technology managers and, in fact, many high-tech firms have folded or refused to locate in Oregon for this very reason," he says. "Our students learn business skills that qualify them for those roles."
Facing potential investors
In lieu of a thesis, degree students in MST participate in a "capstone" project, writing a business plan and presenting it orally in front of local venture capitalists, faculty and potential investors. Every year, one capstone project is selected to participate in a national/international competition of student business plans.
In 2002 the project that Bishman and his teammates worked on was selected to compete in Portland in the 11th Annual New Venture Championship Competition sponsored by the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Oregon. It's one of the three largest business plan competitions in the nation.
Bishman's team -- called DoubleEagle -- developed a business plan to bring to market software designed to integrate different technologies used by golf courses. In addition to Bishman, team members included Jay Chiang, marketing manager for Synopsys, Annie Leong, an Intel software manager, and Miguel Bermudez, an Intel manufacturing manager. Alvin Tong, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Management of Science and Technology, advised the team.
The DoubleEagle team began preparing in January, relying heavily on conference calls because all four students work fulltime and, except for Bishman, have families. "We all work 50 to 60 hours a week for very demanding high-tech companies, and we all travel, so it made getting together to work on the project very challenging," noted Bishman.
Out of 42 teams, the DoubleEagles made the first cut to 20 teams. Though they didn't make the final five, the team took home $500 and an important business lesson.
"It was a great experience," said Bishman. "It was amazing to see what people put together and the level of detail they took to get their products and ideas to market. The networking opportunities also were excellent.
"Our team learned that our market is tougher than we thought and that we need to find ways to more clearly explain what our product can do."
Bishman graduates from OHSU June 7. "I'm looking forward to autocross racing and hiking," said the Camas, Wash., resident. "I have to admit it's nice to have my weekends back, though I recommend the management program just about on a daily basis at this point. I'm very happy with what I got out of it."
For more information about management courses at OHSU's OGI School of Science and Engineering, call 503 748-1418.
ABOUT THE OGI SCHOOL OF SCIENCE & ENGINEERING
The OGI School of Science & Engineering (formerly the Oregon Graduate Institute of Science & Technology) became one of four specialty schools of Oregon Health & Science University in 2001. OHSU's OGI School of Science and Engineering has 63 faculty and more than 300 master's and Ph.D. students in five academic departments.