Dr. Thomas (Tom) K. Miller III, an entrepreneur himself, initiated the Engineering Entrepreneurs Program (EEP) in 1993 under the sponsorship of the Southeastern University and College Coalition for Engineering Education (SUCCEED). The EEP is an extension of the NC State University Undergraduate Design Center, which is the umbrella program for senior design projects for the College of Engineering. The genesis for the EEP came out of Dr. Miller’s personal experience as a technology entrepreneur, his passion for undergraduate engineering education, and his deep commitment to his students and their futures. Because of this, he decided to teach engineering and computer science students skills in product development, organization, management, finance, marketing and entrepreneurship. Dr. Miller knew that the lessons learned by his students would improve their chances of success if they ever took the road less traveled with an idea that could be turned into a business and possibly change the world. He also knew that even if they never started a technology company that these lessons would be invaluable to them throughout their professional careers.
Dr. Miller, who is vice provost for distance education and learning technology (DELTA) at NC State, has many success stories to tell. Today more than 450 students have completed the EEP in which they work in teams to turn creative concepts into marketable products. Donald (Donnie) J. Barnes (CSC ’95), a former EEP student, was the first employee of Red Hat and retired from Red Hat as a millionaire at age 27. Engineering student entrepreneurs Bill Nussey (EE ’87) and Chris Evans created DaVinci Systems, one of the world’s leading email products, at a time when NC State was emerging as a power in information technology. They later sold the company for $6.65 million. Evans sold Accipter, which he also founded, for more than $50 million. Scot Wingo (MS CPE ’92) credits his success to Miller’s Engineering Entrepreneurs Program. Wingo co-founded and sold Stingray Software then co-founded AuctionRover.com, which sold for $166 million.
In January of 2002 Dr. Miller spearheaded the expansion of the EEP into a college-wide program open to all departments and brought on Dr. Stephen J. Walsh, PE, who serves as the Director of the EEP. Dr. Walsh co-founded BOPS, Inc (Billions of Operations Per Second) and served as its first president/CEO. BOPS raised over $70 million in venture capital and was an IP semiconductor company that developed ultra-high performance DSP’s with offices in RTP, Silicon Valley and Austin, TX.
Under their stewardship, the EEP has grown to serve as NC State University’s premiere program for undergraduate entrepreneurship in engineering and new product development.