The College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin is building new entrepreneurship programs to better connect students and faculty to industry under the direction of W. Arthur “Skip” Porter, the college’s new associate dean for innovation and science enterprise.
“Today, we have a knowledge-driven economy where ideas and scientific discovery rapidly change business and create new industries at an accelerated pace,” Porter said. “It is imperative that our students understand the process of how an idea becomes a product and how products create companies, indeed even industries, that create the jobs they seek.”
To that end, the college is adding an entrepreneurship-training component to every freshman course in the Freshman Research Initiative (FRI), which serves more than 500 freshmen per year (roughly one quarter of the college’s freshman class). The entrepreneurial portion will also be added to every freshman critical-thinking course in the college. Taken together, Porter will be introducing entrepreneurship to more than 1,000 freshmen in the college annually.
“In just a few years, all of our students will have been exposed to this very different approach to turning invention into innovation in the sciences,” said David Laude, interim dean of the college. “Our hiring of Skip demonstrates our commitment to fostering entrepreneurship. He is going to be a major asset to us through his development of entrepreneurial opportunities for our students and faculty.”
Porter will also deliver a College of Natural Sciences Distinguished Lecture this fall titled “Mining the Human Mind: Entrepreneurship and the Knowledge Society.”
Porter has built a career around technology development. He is a professor emeritus of electrical and computing engineering at the University of Oklahoma, where he also served as vice president for technology development and dean of the College of Engineering.
From 1985 to 1998 he was president of the Houston Advanced Research Center, where The University of Texas at Austin, Texas AandM University, Rice University and the University of Houston worked collaboratively to help move their technology to the marketplace and leverage their collective talents to help Texas compete for big science projects.
He is also serving as acting director and chair of the Marine Science Institute and Department of Marine Science as they conduct a national search for those positions.