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TECH Event Draws Crowd of Over 50

By Justin D. Gest, Crimson Staff Writer

Though attendance at a kick-off event sponsored by the new Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard (TECH) failed to top 20, the program returned confidently yesterday, attracting a crowd of over 50 for a lecture at the Maxwell-Dworkin building.

Yesterday's event featured Dave Fellows '74, principal of Pilot House Ventures Group, who discussed broadband technology and communications.

Program organizers also drew participants this week by raffling off a Casio color hand-held computer.

TECH is the brainchild of the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences (DEAS) and its dean, Venkatesh "Venky" Narayanamurti and has been about ten months in the making.

Venky calls this year's TECH programs an "experiment," attempting to establish a weekly forum for intimate discussions among a mix of people. TECH will boast visits from Dave Murphy '75, the director of technology for Sapient Corp., one of the leading website builders in the world; George Bell, CEO of Excite@Home; and Jeff Benzen, chief scientist at BMC software who will discuss Internet technology and site management.

"We are producing future technology leaders," Venky said. "We are about how things work and how the world works. Computer technology is revolutionizing the world, and it behooves you to learn about it, because it has also become the significant driver of markets."

The intimate atmosphere was certainly attained at the group's first meeting, as only 17 showed in a room prepared to seat and feed 40.

However, the casual discussion of last week's meeting with Sam Gerace '85, CTO and founder of Be Free Inc., contrasted with this week's lecture by Fellows.

Paul Bottino, DEAS director of external affairs, said he was not upset by turnout at last week's kick-off event.

"I put most of my energy into developing the content," Bottino said. "We haven't advertised at all."

TECH creators said they were happy that yesterday's event was popular, but have said in the past that they value small group discussion.

"We're taking it slowly. I don't want it to get too big," Venky said.

The program aims to draw people from all disciplines to create a community of innovation.

It provides an opportunity for students to become tech savvy and learn what it takes to develop a new business venture, through panel discussions and lectures from Harvard alumni and others at the tops of their respective fields.

TECH creators also said the program aims to explain scientific innovation in ways everyone can understand.

"If you come from the social studies department you're going to understand what's going on," Bottino said.

The group is part of the University's goal to keep up with global business trends.

"For many years a great many of our graduates in computer science have gone into entrepreneurial pursuits, within a few years of graduating or even straight out of college," said Harry R. Lewis '68, dean of the College. "TECH provides a wonderful series of forums for students to connect with others who have been there before them, and who have an interest in sharing their experience with today's undergraduates."

In the past, technology has been a perk or luxury for businesses, but TECH now sees it as a necessity.

"I'm a strong believer that what computer science is doing is so fundamental and pervasive," said Venky, who gives most of the credit for the organization of TECH to the persistent Harvard students who recognized the demand for such a program last winter.

One of those founders, Maryanthe Malliaris '01, a Crimson editor, was present last night and pleased at with the turnout.

"At first we had a hardcore computer science audience," she said. "Tonight, the crowd was more varied."

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