by Dennis Powell
Most innovations in business incubation are incremental, the fine-tuning of a broad general concept. Rarely does a program discover and capitalize on a whole new era of business development and education. It is this fact that makes the Center for Advanced Professional Studies stand out. The Overland Park, Kan., program has gained national attention in recent years for its program of comprehensive entrepreneurship training and student business building in a range of technical fields. The program has been endorsed by leading universities and businesses. Scores of educators from around the world have traveled to the CAPS facility in hope of cloning or emulating the program, and a dozen schools have begun CAPS programs of their own.
At CAPS, 500 high school juniors and seniors each semester spend half of each school day not in normal high school classes but in a facility that resembles a Silicon Valley research center. There, they work on projects with each other and with 18 instructors, 240 businesses, 320 mentors from business and academia. The students must apply to the program and agree to a stringent code of conduct that includes business ethics and a dress code. While the instructors are educators by trade, most have entrepreneurial experience. The businesses and mentors include executives from international businesses with facilities in the greater Kansas City area.
“We have taken the business world model and overlaid it on top of an educational model in the way we act and the way we hire as much as we can,” said Donna Deeds, CAPS executive director, in describing what sets the program apart. “That is why you see different behaviors.”
Keywords: student incubation, client services, best practices
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