Fulbright-RAF Scholar’s

Experience at U of R

By Vladimir Tanasiev (originally published on the Fulbright-Romania Webpage)

Via the Fulbright-RAF Scholar Award program, I had the opportunity, together with another five Romanian professors, to study Entrepreneurship at the University of Rochester. Although is difficult to sum up my whole experience, I will try to convey the essence of it. Entrepreneurial culture in the United States is growing and channeled around universities, with the support of the entrepreneurship centers. I have clearly understood that there are numerous possibilities to support entrepreneurship and it takes time to get the best results – success doesn’t come overnight.

I noticed that USA universities make considerable efforts – both human and financial – to help students think in terms of entrepreneurship, playing in this respect a crucial role in developing the entrepreneurship culture. This continuous effort is strengthened through countless events dedicated to technical, transversal and social topics, contests, debates with investors, etc. The atmosphere created at the university, around students not only helps them to use their imagination, but also offers them the support for turning their ideas into products or services with economic potential. Life on campus is also quite different from my experience back home. During the whole semester, the students are involved, alongside the theoretical and practical classes, in activities aimed at personal and professional development and networking.

One question I have come across quite often was “Can entrepreneurship be taught?”. And the answer is yes, it can be taught, but it’s difficult to measure its impact. An entrepreneur can follow this path only when he feels prepared and this decision can take time. I have also learned that many of the success stories are paved with the determination of those who faced several failures before. To understand the entrepreneurial ecosystem built around the university is one aspect of the problem, but in order to understand its mission and ways to develop, you need guidance. I will take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to my mentors, Dennis Kessler and Duncan Moore, who helped me understand how entrepreneurship is cultivated and how it could be institutionalized. Furthermore, whether I was talking to a salesman at the weekly fair or to a university professor, I could always notice the kindness of the people. I had the same feeling when I was talking to colleagues from other universities and many others. During my whole stay I met nice and hospitable people, interested in our culture and open to future collaborations. Additionally, I really enjoyed meeting members of the Romanian community from Rochester who helped me and my colleagues adapt smoothly from the very start.

During my professional or leisure trips, I had the opportunity to discover the beauty of the USA, equally present in large cities, small towns and its national parks. These trips offered my colleagues – Dragos Vintila, Mihai Dragomir, Anca Nicolau, Corina Forascu, Alma Pentescu – and myself the context to get to know each other better, to become friends and to work together on future plans.

Vladimir Tanasiev was one of six Romanian professors in 2017 to receive a Fulbright-RAF research grant to learn about entrepreneurship at the University of Rochester. Tanasiev is an Assistant Professor within the faculty of Power Engineering at the University Politehnica of Bucharest, Romania. His Fulbright-RAF experience allowed him to develop an action plan to insert entrepreneurship into his projects, as well as to reflect on how he can help entrepreneurship flourish in Romania.