By Matthew Chin

UCLA Engineering students are at the very forefront of technological innovation. Under the supervision of faculty advisors, their advanced research explores new areas, and their education gives them among the best foundations in the world for a technology career.

However that’s only the academic side. Taking their developments into the business world is not required for a degree.

This is where the Technology Entrepreneur Community at UCLA (or TEC) comes in. Started a few years ago, the student group is open to all graduate and undergraduate students who are interested in turning ideas into commercially viable technologies.

“We want to build a community at UCLA that is known both on and off campus.  We constantly have students attend our events for their first time and explain they wish they had heard about us earlier. We want students to know that we are out there and trying to help,” said Alex Capecelatro  a senior materials science student and a TEC board member. “In five years we want to see successful entrepreneurs attributing their start to TEC.”

TEC offers several programs to help students on their way to successful entrepreneurship. These include networking dinners with entrepreneurs; regular seminars; available counseling sessions with intellectual property legal firms; and mentorship of companies by the Tech Coast Angels, a leading investing network.

The group has also started a year-long program called TAG (Technology Assessment Group) where engineers learn how to assess the business potential of various technologies. And while students interested in biotechnology and computer development make up the majority of its current membership, TEC offers events in all disciplines. For example, it had a recent seminar on clean technology, with the leading venture capital fund Mohr Davidow Ventures.

“We focus on providing help and guidance in all areas. We think that the HS SEAS students have a diverse background which leads to diverse interests,” said Patrick Sislian, a Ph.D. student in chemical and biomolecular engineering and co-founder of TEC. “Ultimately, we want to make the connections between the students and business community work to enable start-ups in various areas.”