Each year, Lehigh University students travel to the San Francisco Bay Area to be immersed in Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, spending a week meeting CEOs, founders, and venture capitalists. The program—LehighSiliconValley—is run by the Baker Institute and is in its ninth year. In 2018, building on the success of the flagship program, the Baker Institute piloted an externship add-on program that embeds select students in a company that aligns with their interests.
“At the Baker Institute, we are always looking for ways to immerse students in entrepreneurship,” says Lisa Getzler, Executive Director for the Baker Institute. Getzler notes that the externship program gives students a real-world environment to apply what they have learned in the classroom to an experience that models what they will face post-Lehigh.
“It also allows us to ingrain the idea that entrepreneurship is not just creating a start up.” she says, “Entrepreneurial thinking can be applied to any role they assume, in any company.”
The 2019 LehighSiliconValley cohort included 56 students, 29 of which applied for an externship. Out of the 29 students who applied, 12 were selected. These students stayed an additional three days after the traditional week-long LehighSiliconValley experience to complete their externships.
From the start, OSIsoft, LLC has championed the Baker Institute’s externship program. OSIsoft manufactures application software for real-time data management, called the PI System, and is a member of I-CPIE’s External Advisory Council. After participating in the 2018 externship pilot, OSIsoft returned again in 2019 to host two students.
John Matranga ’88, OSIsoft’s Director of Customer Innovation and Academia, says that the company—which believes that innovation comes to life in many forms—is a proud supporter of LehighSiliconValley and has been happy with its continued evolution. “The fact that the learning experience is expanding beyond the classroom is a game changer, not only for the students but also the Lehigh ecosystem of industry partners,” he says.
For the 2019 externship program, Matranga mentored Hoa Bui ’21 and Dante Biase ’21. Bui is majoring in computer science and business, with a minor in entrepreneurship. Biase is majoring in computer science and computer engineering.
“Hoa and Dante immediately jumped in and learned about the OSIsoft technology and business model,” Matranga notes, “they were then able to help our team with some innovation efforts for the Academic Hub cloud offering.”
Getzler cites Matranga’s participation in the 2018 pilot as a catalyst for the 2019 externships. “The students specifically said they wish they had spent more time at OSIsoft,” she says.
Bui, reflecting on her experience, describes walking away from the externship with knowledge about an industry she would not have known about otherwise. Referring to the PI System’s real-time data tracking with visualization and analysis, Bui says that, “without the externship, I would have never known about this aspect of data management in the energy industry.”
Through the externship experience, the students take a deeper dive into what they learned during LehighSiliconValley. Getzler hopes that by jumping into an experience, being nimble, and coming out having done more than they ever thought they could, the students carry forward the lessons they learn about themselves to their next steps.
For more information about LehighSiliconValley, visit: https://www.lehighbakerinstitute.com/lsv.