Making an Impact

July 28, 2010

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Results from Triangle Business Journal online polling has shown respondents overwhelmingly view NC State as the region’s top college or university when it comes to directly impacting the local economy.

“At NC State, we have a learning environment focused on finding solutions to challenges through our research, through stimulating the minds of our students and through engagement with our community partners,” said chancellor Randy Woodson. “Our faculty teach and encourage our students to reach across disciplines to consider new ways of doing things.

“Students are able to jump in and apply their knowledge to real-world situations, helping differentiate themselves in the marketplace through their level of participation, work ethic and their commitment to helping people,” he continued. “Leaving college for the real world is not so scary when you are prepared with prior experience.”

As NC State, a land-grant institution, faculty and staff members have a dedicated focus on the pursuit of real-world issues and questions faced by our state’s households and businesses, said Dr. Michael Walden, William Neal Reynolds professor and Extension economist in NC State’s College of Agriculture & Life Sciences.

“I constantly strive to supplement the theoretical study of economics with practical applications, many of which I’ve gained by giving workshops and programs to resident and business groups across the state,” Walden said. “Due to interactions with real people facing real problems and questions, I’m able to bring this perspective back to the classroom and help prepare our students for the practical issues they’ll face.”

The university, said Terri Lomax, vice chancellor for research at NC State, has been able to capitalize on its unique ability to translate and commercialize discoveries made by students, faculty and staff.

“We rank third nationally in both industry-licensing partnerships and the commercialization of micro and nanotechnology inventions,” Lomax said. “The more than 70 start-up companies which have spun out of NC State – many of which are located in the Triangle – have attracted over $750 million in venture capital investment and created over 3,000 jobs in North Carolina.”

In addition, a reputation of responsiveness to its industrial, government and educational partners plays an invaluable role in NC State’s ability to impact the Triangle economy, Woodson said.

“We’re in the business of connecting knowledge to the people – that is, we match the research and discovery of our faculty and students to the local businesses and entrepreneurs who can transform new knowledge into market value,” he said. “When students come here, they quickly learn NC State’s role in solving problems and responding to the pressing needs of our economy, which makes us an economic engine for the state.”

Editor’s Note: NC State captured 50 percent of the 1,400-plus ballots cast on the online poll, which was available to TBJ Web site visitors and members of the publication’s e-mail list from July 14-20. UNC Chapel Hill ranked second, capturing 28% of the vote, while Duke (15%), Wake Technical Community College (4%) and N.C. Central, Meredith and others garnered approximately 1% each. For more detailed results and information, visit Jeff Drew’s feature on the TBJ Web site.