IEEE Foundation

Students Learn From The Source at IEEE-HKN’s Student Leadership Conference

There are a hundred ways to learn about how to run a successful startup in the engineering space. But what better place is there to find wisdom than directly from those still in the game?
IEEE-HKN Student Leadership Conference 2018

Students Learn From The Source at IEEE-HKN’s Student Leadership Conference

by Kathleen Lassiter

On April 13th, 2018, students of engineering and entrepreneurship gathered at the University of Gainesville in Florida to attend the IEEE-HKN Student Leadership Conference. The event  allowed members to meet other IEEE-HKN members from around the world and grow their professional and leadership skills while enjoying the weekend. Networking opportunities abounded, and so did opportunities for students looking to expand their business sense to learn exactly how to accomplish their goals. One such opportunity was to attend a panel conversation produced by IEEE Entrepreneurship.

The panel consisted of four entrepreneurs from varying areas of industry, with a wealth of experience and knowledge between them. Panelists included Shane Owens, the CEO of Technology Assurance Labs, Laine Powell, the founder & Executive Director of Tech Sassy Girlz, Robert Reynolds, the CEO of Solis Energy, and Courtney Powell, the president of AceApplications, LLC. Each of these individuals brought something different to the table during the conversation that took place, based on their own backgrounds in the engineering-driven startup space.

One of the major topics of the day was the role that education plays in running a successful business. Courtney Powell spoke to this, saying that “Education served as the training ground for me to learn from others.” Laine Powell also contributed to this topic, and talked about leveraging the technological opportunities students have today in enriching their research processes. She encouraged attendees to take advantage of the Internet and its vast possibilities, comparing the research process today to when she was a student and had to go to the library and use physical resources to conduct all of her research. “Things are so much easier now,” she said.

Another topic of discussion was looking toward the future when entering the world of entrepreneurship. Shane Owens discussed the importance of forward thinking in this space: “Not only is it important to be looking down the road, it’s important to recognize when you make mistakes and adapt to the direction the market is going,” he said.

Finally, the panel talked about common myths and pitfalls to avoid when working as an entrepreneur. Robert Reynolds made a point to talk about overcoming obstacles that seem insurmountable, especially financial obstacles. He discussed not letting a fear of financial issues stop one from creating a business, whether it’s student loan debt or debt from business loans. “If your business is strong enough, those issues will solve themselves along the way,” he said.

These are only some of the highlights from the conversation, which spanned multiple topics and included a Q&A session with the students in attendance.

 View the entire session via the IEEEtv Entrepreneurship Video Channel.