The Silicon Valley Innovation and Entrepreneurship Scholarships (SVIES) Program is a $599,642 scholarship program funded by the National Science Foundation (Award I.D. 1458794). It awards renewable scholarships to academically talented, financially needy and full-time graduate engineering students at the College of Engineering (COE) of San José State University (SJSU). Only US citizens or permanent residents are eligible. The Program provides recipients with opportunities to learn about innovation and entrepreneurship, equips them with methods facilitating innovation, and matches them with Silicon Valley innovators and entrepreneurs as mentors.
In each of the four years during the project period (2015 - 2019), the program will fund 15 annual SVIES, of which five will be $10K and the other 10 will be $8K. Applicants planning to study full-time in Fall 2016 only (but not in Spring 2017) are eligible for half of the annual scholarship. Scholarship recipients will form a learning community engaged in joint study of successful Silicon Valley technological innovations and entrepreneurs (and their failed counterparts) and in team-practice of the lessons learned. With direct mentoring from Silicon Valley innovators and entrepreneurs and seven SJSU COE faculty members, SVIES scholars develop their innovation mindsets, acquire innovation and entrepreneurship skills, and incorporate innovation and entrepreneurship into their career plans. Applicants must have a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on file through fafsa.ed.gov. The scholarship is renewable for up to two years depending on progress to degree, and academic success.
Eligibility for Application
- Legal Status of US Residency: US Citizen or Permanent Resident
Graduate Standing and Course-load:
- Current SJSU students matriculated in an engineering M.S. program who have at least one semester of full-time study (9 or more units of work necessary for completion of the graduate program) before graduation and will be a full-time student in Fall 2016 and, if applying for a full annual scholarship, in Spring 2017 as well.
- Applicants to an SJSU engineering M.S. program who have been admitted for Fall 2016 and will study in the program full-time (9 or more units of work necessary for completion of the graduate program) in Fall 2016 or in the 2016 - 2017 academic year.
Academic Performance: (You will be asked to provide official transcript(s) if selected as a recipient.)
- Graduate GPA, if available: 3.3 or higher
- Undergraduate GPA, for applicants not having a GPA at the graduate level yet: 2.75 or higher
- Financial Need: Completion of the 2016 - 2017 Free Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA).
Application Deadline and Timeline
- Application Period: March 25, 2016 through May 1, 2016
- Application Deadline: May 1, 2016 at 11:59PM PST
- Announcement of Semifinalists and Invitations for an Interview, in person or via Skype: May 9, 2016
- Announcement of Finalists (i.e, or SVIES Scholars or Recipients): May 31, 2016
The SVIES Program is rich in contents and has been designed for those recipients who like to fully capitalize on them. It consists of the following nine Program Components. Some of the Program Components are mandatory for all SVIES recipients; the mandatory ones are highlighted in bold font and are also identified and explained in more detail after the list.
- Forming a Cohort: For each of the four years, we will recruit approximately 15 graduate students of any engineering major. The exact number depends on their financial needs.
- SVIES Program Orientation: Mandatory half-day orientation for all new SVIES scholars at the end of the summer recess before the start of the scholarship.
- A Boot-camp for new SVIES Scholars: It is a technology- and business-oriented workshop to take place in one weekend at the beginning of the Fall semester. It is a “boot camp,” designed to provide an overview of technology- and business-based innovation & entrepreneurship. The workshop will be taught by a team of start-up founders, VCs, the PI and co-PI. (I will take place on a Saturday.)
- A full-day innovation and entrepreneurship training every semester for all SVIES scholars: It provides training in the art and practice of creating and developing innovative products and services to market and creating start-up companies. The program is technology-focused. Students will be guided through a series of topics that will parallel the students’ hands-on activities as they work through the business creation process from opportunity assessment to launch of venture. Portions of the training may be substituted with some of talks of the new seminar series “Innovation and Silicon Valley” (to be discussed next) that will be launched in the first year of the SVIES Program and will be open to all SJSU students.
- “Innovation and Silicon Valley” Seminar Series (Attending at least two of four seminars): This seminar series is focused on technology innovation. The ultimate goal of this series is to encourage and stimulate future innovation. It will invite speakers to illuminate the many current and past Silicon Valley innovations. Through these examples, the audience can learn the nature and process of innovation and may be inspired to be innovative. It will also invite speakers to discuss innovation education – how to teach students and faculty alike to become more innovative. It is expected that there will be four seminars per semester, and each scholarship recipient is expected to attend at least two of the four, with reasonable absences allowed as well.
- Mentoring: Experiential learning or learning by doing plays a central role of the Program. Assign a Silicon Valley innovator, entrepreneur or a venture capitalist as an industrial mentor for a new SVIES scholar or for a team of two new SVIES scholars. Also assign a SVIES peer mentor for each new SVIES scholar or for a team of two new SVIES scholars. SVIES peer mentor is a SVIES scholar who has been with the Program for at least one year and has demonstrated good performance. These mentors will meet with their SVIES scholars once a month. The PI and co-PI both believe strongly that meeting with Silicon Valley innovators and entrepreneurs in person is the best way to inspire students toward innovation and entrepreneurship. The PI organized and led three two-week study tour of China and co-led one two-week study tour of India (in Jan. 2008). Many students of the delegation felt that the study tours were life-changing and that their personal interactions with various innovators and entrepreneurs played a major role in the experience. For example, co-founder Bob Chiang of sino.com, which is “the Yahoo of China”, told the delegation about his humble eCommerce beginning – collecting orders of Chinese lunchboxes via email from Stanford University students and employees and procuring/delivering the lunchboxes while pursuing an MS in Mechanical Engineering.
- Placement of SVIES Scholars on Innovative Projects and Presentation on Completed Work: This activity is optional and is provided only to those SVIES scholars who volunteer for the work. Place SVIES scholars at start-up companies and VC ventures to work with their teams on innovative projects and learn through immersion. The purpose of the project work is solely to familiarize volunteering scholars with the details of the project and immerse them in actual innovation work. The work performed will not be compensated financially by the companies, and no portion of the scholarship will be considered as compensation for their work at the companies. At the conclusion of the project work, SVIES scholars will make presentations to the mentoring start-up founders or VCs and SVIES Faculty.
The Innovation Club at SJSU was formed in Fall 2015. The SVIES scholars are encouraged to participate in its activities and serve as officers. The initial focus is on technological innovations, but it will be
expanded to include social innovations. This club builds and maintains Cohort
- Attendance at the COE Silicon Valley Leaders Symposium (SVLS) and other SJSU and COE Activities. The following will be the target: four SVLS seminars per semester, two COE Green Talks per semester, one seminar of the COB Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship's Speaker Series per semester, the annual formal debriefing of the COE Global Technology Initiative (GTI) scholars on their lessons learned. (The activities constituting the target were actually stated as mandatory in the proposal submitted to and approved by the NSF. However, the Program has decided to treat them as a target for the 2016 – 2017 cohort instead, will assess the amount of workload of this target on the recipients in 2016 – 2017, and will decide on an appropriate level of required attendance at these events for future cohorts.)
Of the nine listed activities, Activity 2 (SVIES Program Orientation ), Activity 3 (A Boot-camp for new SVIES Scholars) and Activity 4 (A full-day innovation and entrepreneurship training every semester for all SVIES scholars) will be mandatory, and all scholarship recipients will be expected to participate as a cohort, with reasonable absences allowed for any such learning activities of course (e.g., due to illness, personal or family emergencies, etc.). As for Activity 5 (“Innovation and Silicon Valley” Seminar Series), it is expected that there will be four seminars per semester, and each scholarship recipient is expected to attend at least two of the four, with reasonable absences allowed as well. Activity 6 – Mentoring is mandatory; it will be a small-group or individual activity participated in by an industrial mentor and their SVIES mentees. Activity 7 - Placement of SVIES Scholars on Innovative Projects and Presentation on Completed Work) is an optional activity. Activity 8 - Organizing a themed club for the College of Engineering – The Innovation Club is a voluntary activity for most scholarship recipients while the others would serve as officers of the Club.
The attendance target for Activity 9 - Attendance at the Silicon Valley Leaders Symposium (SVLS) and other SJSU and COE Activities, is specified as follows:
The SVIES Program builds on the following existing student support structures and program elements at SJSU. SVIES scholars will be encouraged to participate in all of them, particularly those portions of them specified below.
The College of Engineering has been hosting a seminar series entitled “Silicon Valley Leaders Symposium” for over ten years. For every semester, approximately ten leaders of the Silicon Valley are invited to speak about their or their organizations’ contributions to the Silicon Valley. Some of them are world-renowned innovators or entrepreneurs while some others are top executives of the Silicon Valley. These leaders come from not just the well-established semiconductor or information technologies but also from bio-tech, bio-medical device and other innovation-oriented industries. The SVIES scholars should participate in at least four of these seminars every semester.
The College of Engineering has also been hosting a weekly Green Talk series for many years. It invites researchers and practitioners of alternative energy and environmental sustainability to give talks on the state of the art and the state of best practice, respectively. The SVIES scholars should participate in at least two of these seminars every semester.
While these seminar series tend to focus on engineering, the Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship (SVCE) of Lucas College and Graduate School of Business of SJSU hosts a monthly seminar series entitled “Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship's Speaker Series.” This Series by nature emphasizes entrepreneurship, but most of the seminars start with a description of an engineering innovation. The SVIES scholars should participate in at least one of these seminars every semester.
The Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship (SVCE) promotes effective entrepreneurship through knowledge creation, knowledge dissemination, collaborative partnerships and outreach activities and organizes an annual forum, the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge (SVIC), designed to promote creativity and entrepreneurship by generating and showcasing Innovative Business Ideas. The SVIES scholars will be encouraged to participate in SVIC and other events sponsored by SVCE.
In 2004, the SJSU College of Engineering established a $1 million Global Technology Initiative (GTI), whose mission is to give SJSU students a global perspective with a focus on technology and business developments in the Asia Pacific region. The PI served as the Faculty Director of GTI in 2004, 2005 and 2006, and planned and led the 2004 inaugural GTI two-week study tour and two subsequent study tours. By Fall 2016, approximately 25 GTI scholars will have participated in an intensive three-week summer workshop “International Innovation and Entrepreneur Leadership Workshop” at Chung Yuan Christian University (CYCU) in Jungli, Taiwan. It offers the opportunity for engineering students to create an innovative product and then develop a business model to market it. The 2016 GTI scholars will have worked with students from other countries on teams during this workshop and compiled project presentations and project reports. Each GTI study tour is preceded by a series of activities. Because of the emphasis of GTI on technology, innovation and entrepreneurship constitute two key components of the pre-tour activities. SVIES scholars will be encouraged to take advantage of such activities. The SVIES scholars should participate in the formal debriefing of the key lessons learned by the GTI scholars.
Dr. Jacob Tsao
Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
Charles Davidson College of Engineering
San José State University
San José, CA 95192-0085
Dr. Ahmed Hambaba
Associate Dean for Graduate and Extended Studies and Professor of Computer Engineering
Charles Davidson College of Engineering
San José State University
San José, CA 95192-0080