Summer Programs Faculty Focus: About Entrepreneurship with Professor Birton Cowden

    Posted by Lily Cigale on Feb 19, 2016 4:46:36 PM

    In 2016, summer

    Dr. Cowden grew up working on his family's farm in Southern Illinois, learning a sense of control and innovation from an early age. As an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, Dr. Cowden studied management information systems and political science. He credits management information systems with helping him learn how logic works and how to create a system, and notes that political science forced him to ask big questions and look at problems from multiple angles. After undergrad, Dr. Cowden went on to get his PhD in business administration from St Louis University. 


    When I went to meet with Dr. Cowden in his office in the Isenberg School of Management here at UMass, the first thing I asked him was whether he considered himself an entrepreneur. Dr. Cowden told me yes: he started one company and has been a part of many ventures, and he still currently co-runs his family farm! Dr. Cowden views innovation as extremely important. "If we don't have innovators and entrepreneurs then society starts regressing," Dr. Cowden said. "And that's the end of human civilization." Dr. Cowden added that huge corporations are not the ones creating jobs, actual job creation is coming from small and medium sized businesses. Entrepreneurs are great for the economy because they create new jobs, and this economy needs it!

    Entrepreneurship: Becoming a Game-Changer

    Dr. Cowden defines an entrepreneur as a person who gets cool stuff done without anyone telling them to do so or worrying about having enough money or resources -- they just do it. They will find a way. If this sounds like you (or like who you want to be) we have a program for you! Becoming a Game Changer is a two-week pre-college summer program running July 10th - July 23rd, 2016. If you choose this program, you should expect a lot of action and a lot of hands on experience. You won't "learn" entrepreneurship, you'll do it. You will immediately begin talking to real people about their problems and coming up with real solutions and innovative ideas. You will also take trips around Western Massachusetts to meet with people who are running exciting ventures and learn about the limitless possibilities of entrepreneurship. The main thing that we hope you will take away form this program is that, in Dr. Cowden's words, "there's no secret pixie-dust to make you an entrepreneur." If you have an idea and are willing to work hard at it, that's when you will succeed. Plus, you'll learn that you don't have to wait to be an adult, you can start right now! Multiple students who have been in this program have gone on to start their own businesses and have begin making a profit before even graduating from high school! 


    Dr. Cowden is currently pursuing a new venture: corperate entrepreneurship. Corporate entrepreneurship is very important for companies that want to stay relevant and keep innovating in our modern age. Dr. Cowden has developed tools to measure an "entrepreneur mindset" and is using them to offer consultations and advice to companies that want to improve the ability of their employees to innovate. These same tools are the ones you will be using throughout the program to track your growth and progress. 

    For more information on our wide variety of pre-college summer programs, check out our website: 

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