Massiah Foundation, USC Viterbi School of Engineering Announce $1 Million Endowment, Maseeh Entrepreneurship Prize

Donor Fariborz Maseeh hopes the competition, announced during the 2010 NAE Grand Challenges Summit, will help engineers expand skill sets, become entrepreneurs

LOS ANGELES, Thursday, October 7, 2010 The Massiah Foundation and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering (VSoE) announced a $1.03 million endowment to fund the creation of the Maseeh Entrepreneurship Prize Competition (MEPC) for the schools engineering students. The announcement took place at the 2010 National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges Summit that is being hosted at the University of Southern California, October 6-8, 2010.

Fariborz Maseeh, a USC Viterbi School board member, is donating the money through the Massiah Foundation to create the annual $50,000 prize.

This award will help our students challenge themselves to learn additional skills that assure their ground-breaking ideas build businesses that will grow the economy and improve society overall as they work to meet important needs, for example as those identified in the Grand Challenges, said VSoE Dean Yannis Yortsos. There have been a number of business schools with business plan competitions, but the concept is relatively new among engineering schools, which is a credit to Maseehs vision for the field.

In 2008, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) announced 14 Grand Challenges on which engineering can have the greatest impact on society. The challenges cover a wide spectrum of issues, from making solar power more economical to providing access to clean water to engineering better medicines and preventing nuclear terror. The Grand Challenges bring together policy leaders, innovators and corporate executives, leading educators, scientists and engineers, to address the 14 challenges articulated by the National Academy of Engineering.

Over the course of his career as an engineer, Maseeh had to learn through trial and error how to become an entrepreneur and a successful businessman. He is committed to helping engineers reach their full potential to shape the world by expanding their skill sets beyond the traditional engineering curriculum.

There is no other field like engineering where you have the power to create real change and solve problems that improve the world for everyone. The NAE Grand Challenges represent an ideal road map in this direction. Most engineers are tremendously skilled, but theyre not necessarily entrepreneurial. This competition will encourage engineers to think like entrepreneurs as they work to win this prize, Maseeh said. The goal is to augment the skill-based education of engineers with additional critical thinking that requires the students to create an actionable business plan.

Maseeh said he selected the USC Viterbi School for the award because the engineering school has the management and resources in place to assure success as engineering schools everywhere grapple with preparing their students to meet the pressing needs in the world today.

USC is a great fit for this award because of the schools tradition of engineering success, top leadership, and a commitment to a vision for a better world for their students and everyone their efforts impact, Maseeh said. The schools namesake and founding donor, Andrew Viterbi, himself an electrical engineer, entrepreneur and philanthropist, set the bar that were hoping the award helps the students reach.

About the Viterbi School of Engineering
Engineering studies began at the University of Southern California in 1905. The Viterbi School of Engineering received its name not quite a century later from a 2004 gift from alumnus Andrew J. Viterbi, inventor of the Viterbi algorithm now key to cell phone technology and other data applications. Consistently ranked among the top 10 graduate programs in the United States, the school enrolls approximately 1,800 undergraduate students and 4,000 graduate students, taught by 168 tenured and tenure-track faculty, with 52 endowed chairs and professorships. The School consistently receives top rankings for research funding per faculty member, and the home of renowned research centers including the Information Sciences Institute, which played a key role in the creation of the Internet, the Signal and Image Processing Institute, birthplace of jpeg images; the NSF-funded Biomimetic MicroElectronics Systems (BMES) center, the Center for Risk Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE); the USC Center for Systems and Software Engineering (CSSE), the USC Center for Robotics and Embedded Systems (CRES) and many more.