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Students trek to Silicon Valley for entrepreneurial experience as Gill Scholars

Nine graduate students from Lamar University will participate in Ignite!, a three-day entrepreneurship program in Silicon Valley, as 2016 Gill Scholars. The 2016 Ignite Entrepreneurship Trek to Silicon Valley will be held March 2-5.  During the event, students will participate in field trips to Silicon Valley start-ups, high-tech firms and venture capital firms, as well as hear from numerous entrepreneurial guest speakers.

“The LU students, who are pursuing MBAs, master’s or doctoral degrees in engineering or science, will visit leading Silicon Valley companies and exciting tech startups,” said Paul Latiolais, director of the Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship at Lamar University. “They will also spend two days learning from Rice Business Plan finalists who have gained success in the marketplace and are experiencing exponential revenues.”

Five LU graduate students in engineering and the sciences will also attend as Gill Ignite Scholars: Palash Datta, a doctoral student in electrical engineering, from Dhaka, Bangladesh; Saeed Rabbanifar, a doctoral student in chemical engineering, Tehran, Iran; and Ajit Patki, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering, Solapur, India; Bharatkumarr Tejwani, a master’s student in computer science, Ahmedabad, India; and Regina Kuebodeaux, a master’s student in chemistry, Silsbee.

Four LU MBA students will attend as Gill Scholars: Kristeen Reynolds of Port Arthur; Crystal Embury, Warren, Abby McManus, Liberty, and Brittni Thibodeaux, Vidor. 

The conference is hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, Rice University and University of California-Davis, Graduate School of Management. Lamar University alumnus Jack Gill, Houston philanthropist, successful entrepreneur and former Silicon Valley venture capitalist supports the scholarship program that is now in its fourth year.

In the immersive, three-day entrepreneurship program for engineering, science, business and medical students, the Gill Scholars visit successful startups like Skype, Lyft, Gilead Sciences Dropbox, Proteus Digital Health, Square, and tech capital firms such as Benchmark Capital.  They will also hear first-hand lessons from startup founders and CEOs.  

In past years, students have described the conference as the "most inspirational and encouraging entrepreneurial experience in business school" and "a remarkable education in what it takes to start, lead, and fund a company, all compacted into an amazing three days." One participant described Ignite as “a Ph.D. in entrepreneurship in three days.”

About Lamar University Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship

The Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship, or CICE, is a partnership between Lamar University’s College of Business and College of Engineering and the business community of Southeast Texas. The center is a conduit for industry and university interaction, including projects, on-going research, student experiential learning, special events and training. The center promotes a strong emphasis on student development and training to prepare graduates for rewarding careers by exposing them to entrepreneurial real-world projects. New businesses supported by the center are technology-focused, providing products and services for existing and future industry.

About the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship

The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship (Rice Alliance) is Rice University’s globally recognized entrepreneurship initiative devoted to the support of entrepreneurship education, technology commercialization, and the launch of technology companies. Since its inception in 2000, the Rice Alliance has assisted in the launch of more than 250 start-ups which have raised more than half a billion dollars in early-stage capital. More than 1,000 companies have presented at the more than 125 programs hosted by the Rice Alliance. More than 26,000 individuals have attended Rice Alliance events in the past nine years.

About the UC Davis Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a Center of Excellence at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management.  The Institute integrates science and business for social benefit, and brings together researchers in science and engineering with faculty, MBA students, UC Davis undergraduates, experienced entrepreneurs, investors and corporate leaders to support technology transfer and commercialization activities.

About the Gill Foundation of Texas

In 1997, Linda & Jack Gill established The Gill Foundation of Texas to formalize the Gill family’s involvement in education.  To date, gifts and grants total approximately $30,000,000. The Gill Foundation of Texas focuses on providing Scholarships for economically disadvantaged students; creating Centers of Excellence in technical fields (e.g., cardiovascular sciences, neurosciences and entrepreneurial programs for scientists, engineers and physicians); and creating novel courses, seminars and programs to promote interdisciplinary collaboration at universities.

About Jack M. Gill

Jack Gill is a 35-year veteran of Silicon Valley and Boston and has founded and financed dozens of successful companies in the instrumentation, computer, telecom, and medical industries. Gill graduated from Lamar University in 1958 with degrees in chemistry and engineering. Four years later, he received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Indiana University. At 33, he founded his first business that pioneered micro-processor-based scientific instruments. In 1981, he co-founded Vanguard Ventures. Vanguard’s first five funds invested $155 million in 103 startups and generated more than $1 billion return to investors. Dr. Gill joined the Harvard Medical School faculty in 2000 and teaches entrepreneur courses at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Rice and Indiana University.  Gill sits on the boards of the National Academies, Project HOPE, the Horatio Alger Association and MD Anderson. He was a 1999 recipient of the Horatio Alger Award.