By Marlys Amundson
The UCLA Engineering Graduate Student Association (EGSA) offers a range of social activities for its members, and also is expanding its programs to better serve students interested in starting their own company or broadening their network of contacts.

Explained Patrick Sislian, vice president internal of EGSA, “We have purely social activities, like bowling or paint ball, designed to get graduate students out of the labs and meet their peers, but we also have held seminars with the Tech Coast Angels to cultivate a culture of entrepreneurship and socials with other graduate students on campus to broaden our students’ networks.”

The Tech Coast Angels are among the largest angel networks in the U.S. and a primary source of startup funding in Southern California.

During winter quarter, EGSA plans to host socials with representatives from Qualcomm (on February 7) and Microsoft (on March 7). Both events will be held on the Engineering IV patio from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. More than 500 graduate students attended the social held in October 2006.

The EGSA arranged for engineering graduate students to sit in on screening sessions with the Tech Coast Angels (TCA) last year, and have expanded that program this year. The seminar series held in fall quarter offered interested students a broad overview of angel and venture capital funding, as well as detailed information on pursuing venture funding, effective ways to pitch, and tips for successful business plans.

“We know not everyone in EGSA is interested in entrepreneurship programs,” noted Sislian. “So our plan, which is still in the very early stages, is to spin-off that aspect into a sub-organization that would work with faculty, UCLA’s Office of Intellectual Property Administration, and others to increase the start-up rate at UCLA.”

As part of their entrepreneurship activities, EGSA leadership have launched a mentorship program in collaboration with the Tech Coast Angels. UCLA engineering graduate students who are interested in presenting their ideas would agree to work with Tech Coast Angels if the organization felt it would be a productive partnership. Thus far, the new program has established a connection for one team of students.

“Through all of our activities, especially our socials, we want to help UCLA engineering students get to know as many people as possible, and to help them increase their networks,” said Sislian. “Last quarter we invited students from Public Health to attend one of our socials, and plan to invite Anderson students this year.”

The TCA seminar series and other entrepreneurship programs are hosted in conjunction with UCLA Anderson Entrepreneur Association and the UCLA Society of Post Doctoral Scholars.

For additional information on EGSA activities, please visit http://bruinegsa.org/.