Efforts to help military veterans succeed in transitioning back into productive roles in civilian life come in many varieties. For instance, a couple of years ago I cited an initiative by the Texas Workforce Commission to prepare veterans for jobs in the skilled trades that are so essential at chemical and petrochemical plants ("Veterans Get Employment Boost"). Now, a major engineering school is aiming to help veterans succeed as technology entrepreneurs.
The NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Brooklyn, N.Y., has just launched a business incubator to support entrepreneurship by veterans. The 4,000-ft2 Veterans Future Lab (VFL) is located in “Industry City,” a massive multi-building complex along the Brooklyn waterfront that originally was a manufacturing hub but has morphed into a multi-use facility.
Startups at the VFL will receive free office space for a year as well as free legal, cloud web hosting, design and other support services. Entrepreneurs also will get mentoring from school faculty as well as business and industry experts.
Two firms already have signed up, says Steven Kuyan, managing director of Future Labs, who adds the target is having 12–15 startups there. If demand warrants, the VFL eventually could expand its space, he notes.
These early-stage companies will have access to equipment such as high-end 3D scanners and printers, laser cutters and injection molding machines at the site, and to the prototyping capabilities in the new 10,000-ft2 MakerSpace at the school’s nearby downtown Brooklyn campus. In addition, the startups will be able to network with firms in the school’s three other Future Labs: Data (e.g., artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, etc.), Digital (e.g., media technology) and Urban (e.g., smart grid and clean energy).
“Historically, veterans have shown an immense entrepreneurial spirit, founding a wide range of successful startups. The Veterans Future Lab was conceived as a way to foster that spirit and encourage veterans to combine technology with skills learned while serving in the military… Our experience so far has been amazingly positive,” notes Katepalli Sreenivasan, dean of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering.
The VFL hopes to draw entrepreneurs who complete the Tandon School’s Veteran Entrepreneurship Training (VET) program as well as other veterans working on technology startups.
The VET program, which is open to veterans and their spouses, takes place over 12 weeks; it involves hands-on learning, mentoring from faculty and industry leaders, and a capstone project. The program fully subsidizes accepted students; they don’t pay for courses, books and other expenses.
Fifty-six people have completed the four previous programs and received VET certificates. The next program starts in mid-March and has a target of 25 students, says Kuyan. More details can be found here.
In addition, the school offers full scholarships to veterans who enroll in “A Bridge to Tandon,” he notes. This intensive online program grooms people with a non-science or -engineering degree for admission to one of a number of master’s programs. Specifics appear here.
MARK ROSENZWEIG is Chemical Processing's Editor in Chief. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org