Chris Lerohl decided that earning a joint MBA-MEng degree would enable him to apply his knowledge of engineering to technology transfer in the business world.
Edmonton—It’s little wonder that, just as he is graduating with a joint MBA-MEng graduate degree, people are asking Chris Lerohl to help get their business ventures off the ground.
After earning his degree in electrical engineering, Lerohl began working on his master’s degree but about a year into his research into smart power grids decided to switch to the more entrepreneurial focused MBA/MEng degree program. He felt it was the best way to position himself for success—and enable him to bring new technology to the market.
As an undergraduate and graduate student in engineering, and as a founding member of the U of A Energy Club, Lerohl came to believe that energy and environmental problems can be solved with technology that is being developed now—the bottleneck, he surmised, must be on the regulatory and business side.
“New technology is not making it to market. It is not scaling up and creating the change that it could. I think there is a disconnect between business and engineering and technology,” he says. “I thought that going into study business, with the technical understanding of energy issues that I have, would be a huge asset to help contribute to these solutions.”
Others seem to think he’s right. Lerohl has his own business startup in mind but has been approached by three groups asking him to come on board as they get their business ventures off the ground. He’s sought out not only because of his education but also because of his initiative: he is one of three co-founders of a province-wide student group aimed at bridging industry and academia. Called ABCampus Tech, the group hosts networking sessions, educational opportunities and works to put the business community in touch with graduate students who have technical knowledge but may lack the business savvy to successfully bring new products to market.
Lerohl is now awaiting word on a grant application to begin work on his own startup—which is related to renewable energy and smart grid technology, and three other projects.
“I’m hoping to get started on my own project and three people have approached me to get involved in theirs, so that makes me more confident. I have four things on the go and I think one of them has got to work—if not more.
“I have the confidence that I can start something and I have the tools to make things happen.”