University of Chicago Masters Program in Computer Science professors are leaders in tech and among the foremost authorities in their respective fields. In addition to teaching and applying tech solutions to solve challenging problems, our faculty also run successful businesses, work for Fortune 500 companies and dedicate themselves to advancing the field of Computer Science, each day. MPCS faculty supply their students with the applied skills and real-world projects they need to problem-solve, create, and build successful careers with top employers around the world. Learn from the experiences and expertise of our distinguished MPCS faculty, get an insider’s look into their classrooms and discover how a CS education can prepare you for a cutting edge career in technology.
Dylan Hall is the instructor for the Entrepreneurship in Technology course. In this profile, he describes what students can expect from his class, what he enjoys most about it, and why networking is so important.
Which course do you teach in the MPCS?
Entrepreneurship in Technology (51250)
Please briefly describe course content for the class.
We discuss the entrepreneurial feedback loop, and how we utilize it to find product/market fit. The students do this firsthand by tackling a new, big idea in groups, building a minimum viable product, obtaining customer feedback and creating a final startup pitch.
What background does a student need to be able to take this class?
A student should be able to build something, have a desire to learn new technologies and be willing to engage with new people.
If there were just three bits of knowledge you would like each student to walk away with from your class, what would they be?
1) You are an entrepreneur.
2) Product/market fit is the entrepreneur's goal.
3) Feedback will get the entrepreneur to product/market fit.
Why is learning this material beneficial for MPCS students?
Markets evolve because of technology. MPCS students, who understand technology, are best able to lead the change. We focus on using the entrepreneurial feedback loop - which emphasizes building fast proof-of-concepts to quickly obtain market feedback - so that we will build the right technology for new and changing markets.
What can students expect to be able to apply to their careers from this class?
Going through the entrepreneurial feedback loop is essential for any new project, whether it be a new venture or new initiative within a large organization. We apply business, customer, and user feedback to increase the likelihood of success for any new project.
What do you enjoy most about teaching your class?
The students are the stars of the class. The cross-functional nature of the class makes every student collaborate in a group, take on a leadership role, evangelize their big idea to their peers, and showcase their technical talents on a regular basis.
How did you get your start in your career/area of expertise?
I served as a technical co-founder at a startup after graduating from business school, and have been advancing my own startups and advising others ever since. In general, continuous necessity has required me to grow into several roles, expand my skill sets and overcome gaps in my knowledge.
What about the future of this area/industry most excites you?
The continued emergence in technical founders, especially in areas like Chicago. San Francisco places a high premium on technical startup founders, and I believe that Chicago's skill set is maturing to the point where we will see many exciting companies emerge in the near future.
What is a piece of advice you’d give someone considering applying to UChicago’s Masters Program in Computer Science?
Highlight how you will apply what you learn from MPCS in a tangible way (e.g. do not focus only on becoming the best Python programmer ever). I am excited to meet technically-minded people who want to leverage their skill set to improve public sector efficiency or to solve an everyday problem like buying a concert ticket. Your vision for how you apply technology will help us better understand who you are, where your interests lie, and how you may represent MPCS in the future.
Do you have any career advice for someone who's pursuing a job in this area of CS?
Build your network - it is easy to meet founders of early-stage startups, especially since many are in need of talent. You will be able to get a lay of the startup land, and leverage your network in the future for your own venture or to identify which hot startup is worthy of joining.