Graduate students make up almost 25% of Purdue’s student population and within this large group, one would think there would be many budding entrepreneurs. But, a small percentage of graduate students pursue entrepreneurship as a career path. Graduate students may not realize until very late in their graduate studies that commercializing a technology is a viable career choice. Students are also unaware of the strong infrastructure in place to help them succeed in this journey. Therefore, in my talk, as someone who has a PhD and also found his way as an entrepreneur, I hope to engage the audience by exposing them to entrepreneurship as a potential career path and exposing them to some of the resources available to them on campus.
Arnold Chen is currently the managing director for the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship at Purdue University. His expertise includes start-up companies (semiconductor hardware), culture, team building, manufacturing, and operations. He’s seen all different stages of start-ups from garages to IPO.
Prior to joining Purdue University, Arnold spent 2 years as an Entrepreneur-in-residence at the Foundry. This experience helped him get engaged and understand the start-up ecosystem in the local area. Previously he spent 17 years at the epicenter of entrepreneurship, Silicon Valley. Arnold first got his start-up experience as a core member of Genoa Corp. ($98M VC) that was ultimately acquired by Finisar. He was the 7th employee at Genoa, which started in a garage warehouse on the south side of Berkeley, CA. Genoa experienced explosive growth during the telecom bubble, growing to over 100 employees in just a few years. After the telecom bubble burst, he moved to Infinera Corporation ($300M VC) where he was part of the technical team that created the first large scale Photonic Integrated Circuit. At Infinera, he worked his way up the ladder, starting from a line engineer to ultimately being responsible for running their entire fab. During that time, the company grew 10-fold from 100 employees to over 1,200. Arnold became an expert in developing world class manufacturing quality and reliability practices. He was also able to see the next phases of a start-up as they shipped their first products, grew significant revenue, and ultimately went IPO. His next stop was Aurrion Corp. ($40M Angel & Strategic). Here, he gained executive experience working with the Board of Directors and the executive team in high level corporate strategy, financing, and product definition.
Dr. Chen is a Purdue alumnus. (BSEE’91) He received his M.S. (’93) and Ph.D. (’96) degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.