Thee Art of Business & Business of Art: Arts Entrepreneurship & Technology
A Renaissance in The Classical Liberal Arts & Free Market Economics
"The greatest scientists are always artists as well." --Albert Einstein
Dr. Elliot McGucken

Entrepreneurship MBA/Business Class feedback for Dr. E's Hero's Odyssey in Arts Entrepreneurship & Technology Class
For valuable resources on Arts Entrepreneurship, please see Gary Beckman's excellent site, Arts Entrepreneurship Educator's Network. And here is Gary's interview with Dr. E, which begins with:
Elliot launched the program at UNC Chapel Hill and he is bringing it to Pepperdine University this fall. He received a B.A. in physics from Princeton and a Ph.D. in physics from UNC Chapel Hill where his dissertation on an artificial retina for the blind received several NSF grants and a Merrill Lynch Innovations Award. The retina-chip research appeared in publications including Popular Science and Business Week, and the project continues to this day. Entrepreneurship MBA/Business Class feedback for Dr. E's Hero's Odyssey in Arts Entreprenuership & Technology Class


He founded in 1995, and now runs over 30 sites. The New York Times deemed "simply unprecedented," adding that the site "teems with discussion, the kind that goes well beyond freshman lit 101."

Elliot presented Authena Open Source DRM/CMS at the Harvard Law School OSCOM, and 22surf was accepted to the Zurich OSCOM. Both Authena and 22surf are aimed at helping indie artists/creators. He has published four books including two novels and a poetry collection, and blogs on Artistic Entrepreneurship for the Kauffman Foundation.

Gary Beckman: Your Spring 2006 course, The 45 Revolver: Artistic Entrepreneurship & Technology 101, is somewhat iconoclastic when compared to other Arts Entrepreneurship courses across the country. Can you briefly describe the class, your course philosophy and the design process.

Dr. E: The students don't think it's iconoclastic. AE&T is the opposite of iconoclastic, as Artistic Entrepreneurship & Technology adheres to the wisdom of the classics. In preparing the course I have been greatly humbled by all the infinite wisdom and classical art that has come before, and I try to communicate this humility to the students. Dante understood eternity. Homer understood "built to last." The Founding Fathers penned the Constitution--the fundamental business document of all modern business--without a law degree between them--instead they had read the classics.

And so it is that the students can make the greatest investment of their time in college by learning the eternal principles that will guide them in all future endeavors.

The class is based on Joseph Campbell's Hero's Odyssey which Campbell based upon commonalities he perceived in myths spanning all cultures. There are few texts more diverse than Campbell's and yet few more unified.

So often we're told that a liberal arts education is fundamentally useless, but AE&T is based on the premise that nothing has greater value than learning the eternal principles--the very same eternal principles Buffett, Bogle, Dante, Jefferson, Dickinson, Franklin, Campbell, and all successful artists and entrepreneurs use. In his book Battle for the Soul of Capitalism, Bogle, a life-long Wall Streeter quotes not the Wall Street Journal, but Shakespeare, St. Augustine, Jefferson, Emerson, and Gibbon. On the first page he quotes Joseph Campbell! The principles of a liberal arts education are needed more than ever for renaissances in Hollywood and Wall Street alike.

John Bogle, a classic entrepreneur who founded Vanguard based on the youthful idealism of his senior thesis at Princeton recently wrote a great book called, "The Battle for The Soul of Capitalism." This, along with Homer's Odyssey, is a required book in AE&T.

On the first page Bogle writes,

My generation has left America with much to set right; you have the opportunity of a lifetime to fix what has been broken. Hold high your idealism and your values. Remember always that even one person can make a difference. And do your part "To begin the world anew."

That's a great message to every student--to "hold high their idealism and values." --read the rest of Gary Beckman's interview with Elliot McGucken at

Multiple-Unit Artificial Retina Chipset

Dr. Elliot McGucken

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
NC State University

A computer-chip based device that can provide limited-resolution vision
for people with retinal-based blindness. Beneficiaries would be 10,000,000
people worldwide suffering from forms of blindness including retinal
pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.



NEW YORK, Sept.16 -- The Merrill Lynch Forum today announced the first
winners of the Innovation Grants Competition -- its global competition
challenging doctoral students to craft commercial applications of their
dissertation research. The winners were recognized at an awards dinner at
Merrill Lynch headquarters last night (Sept. 15), hosted by Merrill Lynch
Chairman and CEO David H. Komansky.

Dr. Jan Mark Noworolski, from the University of California at Berkeley,
received the top prize in the competition for creating a new type of power
converter, a key element in virtually all electronic devices. This
technology would greatly reduce the size, parts count and weight of power
supplies for the increasingly pervasive array of portable electronic
products such as cell phones and laptop computers, as well as enabling the
design of new mobile electronic products. "Power management is one of the
major constraints in personal electronics," he said. "An integrated design
using this technology could offer a 10-fold improvement in device

A total of 213 proposals from 16 countries were submitted to the
competition, which was open to new Ph.D. recipients in the sciences,
liberal arts, and engineering disciplines. Entries were judged by a
distinguished panel of nine entrepreneurs, venture capitalists,
journalists, and innovators and were considered without knowledge of the
applicants' identity or academic affiliation.

"Academic research is a significant and often untapped source of
intellectual capital in our society, and a tremendous economic resource,"
said Merrill Lynch Chairman and CEO David H. Komansky. "The winning
proposals from this competition are all excellent examples of how new
knowledge can be transformed into new value simply by encouraging
researchers to look at their research from a different perspective. We
hope that these Innovation Grants will help foster a closer interaction
between world-class science and the world of commerce," Mr. Komansky

The judging panel consisted of:

John Seely Brown, Chief Scientist, Xerox Corporation, and Director, Xerox
Palo Alto Research Center Edgar W. K. Cheng, former Chairman, The Stock
Exchange of Hong Kong John Doerr, Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield &
Byers Esther Dyson, Chairman, EDventure Holdings, Inc. Peter C. Goldmark,
Chairman and Chief Executive, The International Herald Tribune William
Haseltine, Chairman & CEO, Human Genome Sciences, Inc. John Markoff,
Technology Correspondent, The New York Times Edward McKinley, President,
E.M. Warburg, Pincus & Company International, Ltd. Arati Prabhakar, former
Chief Technology Officer, Raychem Corporation In evaluating the
applications, the judges sought to identify proposals with the potential
to affect real change in industries and in the way people live their
lives. "The Innovation Grants Competition is a terrific idea," said judge
John Doerr, of venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. "I
was impressed with many of the proposals and thought that several of the
ideas would merit a venture-capital follow-up."

The five winning entries:

First Place, $50,000 -- Single-Chip Power Converter. Dr. Jan Mark
Noworolski, University of California at Berkeley. A unique, one-chip power
converter that uses electromechanical energy instead of inductive energy
storage. This technology could dramatically reduce the size and complexity
of portable electronic devices such as laptop computers, cellular phones,
and pagers.

Second Place, $20,000 -- Membrane Chips. Dr. Jay T. Groves, Stanford
University. A technology that enables biological membranes to be
incorporated into computer chips. These chips could be used by the medical
diagnostic industry, particularly for AIDS research, and leukemia.

Second Place, $20,000 -- Multiple-Unit Artificial Retina Chipset (MARC).
Dr. Elliot McGucken, University of 
North Carolina at Chapel Hill/NC State
University. A computer-chip based device that can provide
limited-resolution vision for people with retinal-based blindness. This
device could benefit the more than 10,000,000 people worldwide suffering
from blindness originating from various causes.

Third Place, $10,000 -- Male Oral Contraceptive. Dr. Bruce Lahn, Whitehead
Institute of Biomedical Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
This research led to the development of an understanding of the role of
the gene CDY in producing an essential enzyme for sperm production. This
research could produce a male oral contraceptive that would chemically
inhibit the production of the sperm-producing enzyme.

Third Place, $10,000 -- Artificially Engineered Quantum Solid Materials.
Dr. Alexander Balandin, University of Notre Dame. This study of new
materials based on quantum confinement properties suggests opportunities
for the engineering of a new generation of electronic devices. The most
significant market application would be the improvement of devices such as
semiconductor lasers, CD players, digital cameras, and optical drives.

Additional grants of $5,000 were awarded to each of the winners'
universities and discretionary grants of $3,000 each were awarded to five
additional proposals.

The 1998 Innovation Grants Competition was directed by Michael Schrage, a
Research Associate at the MIT Media Lab, and a leading expert on issues
surrounding innovation and new business development. "What fuels the 'new
economy' of the information age is ideas," said Schrage. "This competition
takes great ideas that might otherwise have languished for years in
academia and brings them to the attention of people who can translate them
into transformative technologies. Anyone looking at these proposals can
see that they contain truly exciting possibilities."

The competition was open to doctoral students who successfully defended
their dissertations between January 1, 1996, and July 1, 1998. Entrants
were required to submit a 3,000-word explanation of how their dissertation
topic could be translated into a commercial product or service. The
description had to include: a summary of the dissertation, a description
of the most significant commercial idea embodied in it, an analysis of the
potential market for the product or service, and a discussion of technical
steps necessary to bring the innovation to market.

The Merrill Lynch Forum is a "virtual" think tank established by the
global financial services company to bring together leading experts to
consider and explore issues of worldwide importance in the areas of
technology, economics, and international relations.

Those interested in additional information, should visit the Competition's
web site,, or call 1-888-33Forum. Additional
information is also available by sending e-mail




Dr. Elliot McGucken was born and 
raised in Akron, Ohio, and he has studied
and taught physics ever since he left Akron to attend Princeton University
as an undergraduate. He recently received his Ph.D. in physics from the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1998), where his research on
the Multiple Unit Artificial Retina Chipset To Aid The Visually Impaired
often led him down the road to North Carolina State University. He is
currently continuing his involvement with the retinal prosthesis's
prototype development at NCSU, while also teaching physics and astronomy
as an assistant professor of physics at the neighboring Elon College.

His favorite hobbies are celestial navigation, sailing and windsurfing,
reading the classics, and writing poetry. Dr. McGucken received the Tanner
Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching while at the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also received an honorary
membership in the the American Society of Physics Teachers.

Multiple Unit Artificial Retina Chipset (MARC) to Aid the Visually Impaired By Elliot McGucken -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Summary of the dissertation Engineering progress relating to the development of the multiple-unit artificial retina chipset (MARC) prosthesis to benefit the visually impaired is presented in my dissertation, "Multiple Unit Artificial Retina Chipset to Aid the Visually Impaired and Enhanced CMOS Phototransistors." The design, fabrication, and testing of the first generation MARC VLSI chips are reported on. A synthesis of the engineering, biological, medical, and physical research is offered within the presentation of methods and means for the overall design engineering, powering, bonding, packaging, and hermetic sealing of the MARC retinal prosthesis. The retinal prosthesis is based on the fundamental concept of replacing photoreceptor function with an electronic device1, which was initiated by2 and has been extensively developed3,4 by MARC team-members Dr. Humayun et al. The use of an inductive link for power and telemetric communications is explored, and an experimental study of RF coil configurations, showing their feasibility for this retinal implant, is offered. An enhanced CMOS phototransistor with a holed emitter (HEP), used in the first generation MARC, is presented, along with a numerical model which also predicts its enhanced quantum efficiency. Due to the small size of the intraocular cavity, the extreme delicacy of the retina, and the fact that the eye is mobile, an artificial retinal implant poses difficult engineering challenges. Over the past several years all of these factors and contrasts have been taken into consideration in the engineering research of an implantable retinal device. Initial steps3 towards fabricating a commercially available, implantable MARC device have been taken by our team of engineers, physicists, and doctors. 2. Description of the most significant commercial aspect A multiple-unit artificial retina chipset (MARC) would create a new marketplace by offering a cure for forms of blindness including retinal pigmentosa (RP) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which afflict over 10,000,000 people worldwide. Clinical studies4 have shown that controlled electrical signals applied to a small area of a dysfunctional retina with a microelectrode can be used to initiate a local neural response in the remaining retinal cells. The neural response, or phosphene, is perceived by otherwise completely blind patients as a small spot of light, about the size of a match-head held out at arm's length. When multiple electrodes are activated in a two-dimensional electrode array, an image may be stimulated upon the retina. The MARC system consists of an extraocular means for acquiring and processing visual information, a means for power and signal transceiving via RF telemetry, and a multiple-until artificial retina chipset. The stimulating electrode array is mounted on the retina with metal-alloy retinal tacks while the power and signal transceiver is mounted in close proximity to the cornea. An external miniature low-power CMOS camera worn in an eyeglass frame captures an image and transfers the visual information and power to the intraocular components via RF telemetry. The intraocular prosthesis will decode the signal and electrically stimulate the retinal neurons through the electrodes in a manner that corresponds to the original image perceived by the CMOS Camera. 3. Description of the market for the proposed product and the competition The multiple-unit artificial retina chipset (MARC) is designed to provide useful vision to over 10,000,000 people blind because of photoreceptor loss due to partial retinal degeneration from diseases such as Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). People who are completely blind will initially gain the ability to discern shapes and pictures, and even to read, with limited resolutions of 15x15 pixels. Future MARC generations will provide greater resolutions, and the device will chart a brand new marketplace a s a prosthetic device to aid the visually impaired. 3.1 Unique value derived by the customer Before embarking on the MARC chip design, it was necessary to assess how useful a limited-resolution view would b to the blind. Simple visual feasibility experiments have been conducted at NCSU so as to determine how well sight could be restored with a 15x15 array of pixels, each of which would be capable of four-bit stimulation, or sixteen gray levels. A picture from a video camera was projected onto a television screen at the low resolution of 15x15 pixels. When subjects who wore glasses removed their glasses, or when those with good sight intentionally blurred their vision, the natural spatial-temporal processing of the brain allowed them to actually distinguish features and recognize people. When the subject focused on the screen, it appeared as a 15x15 array of gray blocks, but when the subject "trained" themselves to unfocus their vision, they were able to "learn" to see definitive edges and details such as beard, teeth, and opened or closed eyes. These results are reminiscent of the experiences with the artificial cochlear implant. When the artificial cochlear was originally being designed, it was believed that over 2,400 electrodes would be needed to stimulate the nerves in a manner that would be conducive to hearing. Today, however, within a few weeks of receiving an implant, a patient can understand phone conversations with an artificial cochlear that has only six electrodes. One of the advantages of this project is that the MARC device will be interfaced with the world's greatest computer - the brain. The MARC won't be duplicating the exact functioning of the retina, but rather the device will be an entity that the brain will "learn" to use. A good analogy to think of is that in attempting flight, the Wright brothers did not attempt to imitate nature by building a plane which flapped its wings, but rather they did it in a way that had not yet appeared in the natural world. Thus we believe that a 15x15 pixel array will facilitate a level of sight which will be of significant value to the patient. And after the initial prototype is developed, there will be few barriers to stepping up the resolution. 3.2 Prior art, competition, and MARC advantages The current design of the MARC clears several hurdles that exist is prior inventions and research. Much of the prior art has relied upon structures so complicated or biologically intrusive as to make their implementation impractical, and thus, to date, an operating implantable artificial retina has not been achieved. Several international teams are actively pursuing a prosthetic device, including formidable competitors from MIT, a German team of over 20 scientists and engineers who have received over $14,000,000 for the German government and a team from Japan who have recently received government funding. To date, members of the MARC team Dr. Humayun et al. have been the only ones to electrically stimulate1,2,4 controlled visual percepts human patients. Chapter 2 of my dissertation provides a treatment of the papers, patents, and prior art embodied by the various teams' progress, but due to space limitations, only the advantages of the MARC are presented here. MARC Component Size: The novel multiple-until intraocular transceiver processing and electrode array-processing visual prosthesis allows for larger processing chips (6x6 mm), and thus more complex circuitry. Also, by splitting the chips up into smaller components, and utilizing techniques such as solder bumping to connect the chips with kapton substrates, we shall keep the sizes to a minimum. MARC Heat Dissipation: The power transfer and rectification, primary sources of heat generation, occur near the corneal surface, or at least remotely from the retina, rather than in close proximity to the more delicate retina. MARC Powering: The novel multiple-until intraocular transceiver-processing and electrode array-processing visual prosthesis provides a more direct means for power and signal transfer, as the transceiver microprocessing unit is placed in close proximity to the cornea, making it more accessible to electromagnetic radiation in either the visible wavelength range or radio waves. Solar powering and especially RF powering are made more feasible. MARC Diagnostic Capability: The transceiver unit is positioned close to the cornea, and thus it can send and receive radio waves, granting it the capability of being programmed to perform different functions as well as giving diagnostic feedback to an external control system. Diagnostic feedback would be much more difficult with the solar powering. MARC Physiological Functionality: Our device was designed in conformance with the physiological data gained during tests on blind patients. We are the only group who has yet created a visual percept (with electrical stimulation) in a patient. Therefore, we have the unique advantage of designing around parameters which are guaranteed to work. Reduction of Stress Upon The Retina: Our device would reduce the stress upon the retina, as it would only necessitate the mounting of the electrode array upon the delicate surface, while the signal processing and power transfer could be performed off the retina. Also, buoyancy could be added to the electrode array, to give it the same average density as the surrounding fluid. Approximately 10,000,000 people worldwide are severely visually handicapped due to photoreceptor degeneration5 experienced in end-stage age-related macular retinal degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. In addition to benefiting the visually impaired, restoring vision to a large subset of blind patients promises to have a positive impact on government spending. 4. Description of the five most important technical steps The honing and development of several aspects of the MARC system must yet be fully realized so as to optimize the final device's functionality and performance. Concurrent engineering tasks which are both touched upon and elaborated in chapters of my dissertation include the following: The design, fabrication, and testing of the signal-processing and stimulus-driving MARC2, MARC3 and MARC46 VLSI chips and the video-processing chip. These are VLSI chips endowed with microprocessing circuitry to encode and decode visual information, and drive the stimulating electrodes. The enhancement of the CMOS photodetectors and the Holed Emitter Phototransistor. These are the fundamental building blocks of silicon photosensors. The final designs and optimization of the kapton/polyimide or silicon stimulating electrode array. Kapton polyimide flexible polymer which would allow for the fabrication of an electrode array which could conform to the curvature of the retinal surface. So far it has proven to be biocompatible. The design and refinement of the RF telemetry system and video protocol. RF Telemetry is utilized to transmit both power and signal without the presence of physical wires. Thus the device is entirely self-contained within the eye. The bonding, packaging, and hermetic sealing of the CMOS signal-processing chips with the kapton electrode array. The hermetic packaging of a chronic device with over 100 electrical feedthroughs is a challenge. The integration of microelectronics with damaged or degenerated biological systems in order to provide some of the lost function is a rapidly emerging field, and we have been and will continue to share technologies with other groups also working on biological prosthesises. 5. Description of how best to test prototypes Extensive laboratory and clinical testing will be conducted before functioning MARC is realized. The doctors on our team are conducting the biocompatability and threshold-stimulation experiments within both humans and animals, while the engineers at NCSU-ECE are concentrating on the testing of the functionality of the computer chips, and the performance of the RF telemetry transfer of power and signal. Hermeticity may be tested by submerging device in saline baths for extended periods. In order to test MARC1, which was endowed with HEP photosensors, the image of a while paper E mounted on black paper was focused onto the MARC chip. An adjustable incandescent light was shone onto both black and white paper, and the difference in reflected power was measured, and found to be around a factor of ten. This order of magnitude difference is easily recognized by Mead's logarithmic photodetector circuit. Even though the image of E was focused down to about 20% of its original size, so as to fit upon the chip, the difference between the intensities of the neighboring light and dark areas remained the same, as they were both multiplied by the same factor. All the pixels which were subject to the light of the E's image fired, while those beyond the border remained off. The output from the "on" pixels, which resulted in 250 mA, 2ms pulses at a 50 Hz clock rate, were sufficient for retinal stimulation. The photosensing and current-generating partition of the artificial retina chip has been tested, and it ahs been demonstrated to work. These results suggest that the chip would facilitate the perception of outlines where sharp contrast existed, such as for windows or illuminated text. The Doctors have demonstrated that the 5x5 electrode array functions, and the next step towards an artificial retinal prosthesis is to connect the dual unit visual prosthesis to the 5x5 electrode array, and implant the dual unit device in an animal, so as to test biocompatibility. 6. Description of the limitations and challenges in the MARC project The MARC project spreads itself across a diverse array of scientific, engineering, and medical disciplines. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges associated with this project is the interdisciplinary nature of the device's design, which requires the devotion from members of a large, unified team from a wide array of disciplines and distant institutions. One of the goals of my dissertation was to aid the project by providing an overview or synthesis of the wide-ranging research, within the presentation of the complete system engineering of the MARC implantable prosthesis. The inter-disciplinary challenge involves the fabrication of the processing chips, the acquisition and transmission of visual data in a way that is meaningful to the device and to the patient, a wireless power source, and a form of biocompatible, hermetically-sealed packaging. The MARC designs presented throughout my dissertation attempt to integrate the multifaceted technologies in a final device that will be beneficial to a visually-impaired patient. As we approach a functioning MARC prosthesis, the design will continue to evolve, as the refinement of any one parameter affects all the rest. For instance, should the main intraocular chip be subdivided into smaller individually-sealed chips so as to reduce the risk of realizing a complete system failure if one chip should malfunction, the basic chip design, as well as the hermetic packaging, will have to be altered. An alteration in the hermetic packaging will affect where the chip may be mounted. A different chip design will require a different power source and thus telemetry configuration. And a different telemetry configuration may alter the coil designs, which would affect the size of the external battery. Thus an alteration in any one aspect of the design resounds throughout the entire system. The purpose of this dissertation was to offer an overview of all the parameters affecting the design of the MARC, elaborate on all the engineering progress that has been made, anticipate design and engineering hurdles, and suggest approaches for future research. The photosensing/current-generating component of the artificial retina chip has been tested, and it has been demonstrated to work. Investigations into the feasibility of RF powering have so far been positive. The electrode design is being honed, and the Doctors have demonstrated that a 5x5 electrode array can stimulate simple pictures upon a patient's retina. The doctors are currently investigating ways of stimulating the retina with lower currents, which will have a positive impact on the design of the chip and RF powering system. The next step towards an artificial retinal prosthesis will be to develop the second and third generation MARCs which will be capable of driving a 15x15 electrode array and 25x25 electrode arrays, and testing the devices for short periods within a human. The implications of this research may extend beyond this immediate project, as contributions to the overall field of implantable prosthetic devices and hermetic packaging. The observations and clinical and engineering experiments performed should lend insight into the actual functioning of the human retina. The feedback gained by these studies should provide a vehicle for further understanding of the retinal/vision/perception process. In addition, a CMOS phototransistor which exhibits an enhanced quantum efficiency was also developed, and a numerical model was presented which also predicts its enhanced efficiency. The enhanced performance is accounted for via the physics of transistor operation. The CMOS phototransistor may find an application in the emerging field of CMOS photodetectors, wherein researchers are attempting to create low-powered inexpensive cameras. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- References: 1 E.D. Juan, Jr. Mark S. Humayun, Howard D. Phillips; "Retinal Microstimulation," US Patent #5109844, 1993 2 M. Humayun, "Is Surface Electrical Stimulation of the Retina a Feasible Approach Towards The Development of a Visual Prosthesis?" Ph.D. Dissertation UNCCH BME 1994 3 W. Liu, E. McGucken, K. Vichiechom, M. Clements, E. De Juan, and M. Humayun, "Dual Unit Retinal Prosthesis," IEEE EMBS97 4 M.S. Humayun, E.D. Juan Jr, G. Dagnelie, R.J. Greenberg, R.H. Propst and H. Phillips, "Visual Preception Elicited by Electrical Stimulation of Retina in Blind Humans by Electrical Stimulation of Retina in Blind Humans," Arch. Ophthalmol, pp. 40-46, vol. 114, Jan. 1996. 5 Research to Prevent Blindness, Progress Report 1993. 6 K. Vichiechom, M. Clemments, E. McGucken, C. Demarco, C. Hughes, W. Liu, MARC2 and MARC3 (Retina2 and Retina3), Technical Report, February, 1998

UNC's Daily Tar Heel Reports,

Students find dream jobs In class, passions fuel business plans
Erin Wiltgen, Staff Writer

For many, childhood and adolescence pass in a blur of hobbies and passionate adventures, activities seeped in a deep-seated excitement and love inherent in a particular pastime.

In UNC professor Elliot McGucken's "Artistic Entrepreneurship and Technology" class, students and teachers work to "make your passion your profession," transforming students' dreams and interests into potential paths for the future.

The unique course allows students interested in fields such as photography, video games, painting, classical music and film production to explore commercial and social ventures in the arts.

They search for and create a plan based in entrepreneurship, which supports and nurtures their individual visions.

"A lot of times school tells you that your dreams aren't important," says McGucken, a physics professor. "But in reality dreams are your most important asset."

The class consists of an independent project that includes three presentations, guest lectures and small-group collaboration.

Sophomore Phil Gennett's project is a clothing line, and he is trying to find a manufacturer for his creations.

He also intends to set up a talent agency.

"I want to blow it up into a new sort of entertainment, like American Idol, but also as a social network for opportunities," Gennett says.

Sophomore Ryan Dean is working on multiple projects. He runs a graphic design company called Cellar Door Design. He also has joined with a photographer in the class to create CD booklet artwork for the second album by his band, The Anchor Comes Home.

"What's most helpful is meeting like-minded people," Dean says.

"The best thing about this class is establishing relationships with the other students and collaborating with each other."

Stefan Estrada, graduate student and teaching assistant for the class, shares a similar view.

"The people in this class have ambition and a vision of things they want to accomplish," Estrada says.

"This isn't a class where you get something done and forget about it. It continues to maybe become your career." . . .

. . . McGucken also says that entrepreneurship classes give students a broader knowledge base.

"It's an irony that the University requires you to specialize when people typically end up switching jobs five or six times and need to know about a lot of different things," McGucken says.

At 5 p.m. Tuesday, the class will host a show at Local 506 on Franklin Street.

The show, called "Rocky Raccoon's High Tech Hollywood Hip Hop Hedge Fund Hoedown and Fashion/Art/Photography/Video Games Showdown" will feature musical and spoken-word performances, fashion shows, film and video screenings and displays of visual art and photography.

The show is designed as a networking event and as a benefit for the Music Maker Relief Foundation and three web sites -, and

The Music Maker foundation works to help pioneers of Southern musical traditions gain recognition and meet their financial needs.

One goal of the show, and the class itself, is "to build new cultural centers," McGucken says.

"The University has been separated artificially," he says.

"This class has naturally collapsed all the barriers between business and art and law, putting all the power in the hands of the creator."

Where Entrepreneurship Connects to the Classics

Elliot McGucken, a professor of entrepreneurship at Pepperdine University, bemoans that "a lot of schools have dismissed the idea of teaching the great books." In a recent lecture at Pepperdine, McGucken points out that that one lesson of the classics is, "Chance favors the prepared mind.. Instead of viewing risk as a bad thing, we can also view it as a good thing."

The classics inspired America's Declaration of Independence, which McGucken sees as an entrepreneurial document. Life has a way of "calling us to adventure," he concludes. Though many entrepreneurs launch businesses based on some "whimsical occurrence," it's their educational and life backgrounds that enable them to recognize the opportunity. Thus, John Bogle was able to found Vanguard based on a business-magazine article, while actually pursuing a "higher ideal" associated with making stock ownership available to large numbers of people. See this blog for more information and a related video. --BusinessWeek Online

The Wall Street Journal wrote:

Elliot McGucken decided to straddle the two worlds. After he earned a doctoral degree in physics/electrical engineering, Dr. McGucken considered himself "fortunate" to get a teaching job at Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., and to continue his engineering research.

But then, last year, he won the Innovation Grants Competition sponsored by Merrill Lynch Forum (for an artificial retina chipset for the blind), the virtual think tank of the financial-services company. The contest, now in its second year, gives out $150,000 in prizes for Ph.D.s, and their institutions, who find commercial applications for their research.

After winning the contest, he got to tour the New York Stock Exchange. Dr. McGucken caught the entrepreneurial bug. Eventually, he launched, an Internet company devoted to his longtime passions: writing and classical literature. --The Wall Street Journal

The Graphic writes: Former investment CEO discusses moral capitalism

Pepperdine welcomed investment giant John C. Bogle to campus Tuesday evening as the keynote speaker for National Entrepreneurship Week USA. Bogle spoke on how businesses have abandoned true ethics and the importance of classical values and a liberal education in the today’s world and attested to his humble beginnings and how they shaped his life to come.

As founder and former CEO of the Vanguard Group, the second largest mutual fund company in the world, Bogle was recognized as one of the world’s 100 most powerful and influential people by TIME Magazine in 2004. He was also hailed as one of the investment industry’s four “Giants of the 20th Century” by Fortune magazine in 1999.

Dr. Elliot McGucken organized the event. McGucken teaches a class in artistic entrepreneurship in which Bogle’s 2005 book, “The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism,” is required reading alongside Homer’s “Odyssey.”

The theme of a hero’s odyssey, therefore, permeated Bogle’s presentation.

“Classical precepts are the most useful tools throughout life,” McGucken said. “Ideals are a great a long-term investment, because they never change.”

Bogle reached out to students, urging them to pursue an education and to become a citizen characterized by ethics and ideals.

“Dream, but act too,” Bogle said. “You have nearly all of your own odyssey before you… if you are truly strong in will to strive, seek, find, and not to yield.”

Many students found the presentation to be valuable and could relate to Bogle’s assessment of the business world.

“I thought it was pretty interesting, especially with the moral aspect to see such a wealthy man and how he founded his business,” said freshman Maurice Collins.

Freshman Kamron King agreed.

“To see his humble beginnings makes acquiring that much wealth seem tangible,” King said.