Merrimack College Professor Pivots From Technology Patents to VC Financing Research

Roberto Santos leverages his dual career in engineering and business as an assistant professor of practice and graduate program director in Merrimack College’s Girard School of Business.
Headshot of Roberto Santos.
First-year assistant professor Roberto Santos holds a Ph.D. in business administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship.

After 22 patents and an 18-year engineering career spanning research and development, mechanical engineering design and project management, Roberto Santos decided to switch gears.

As an engineer, Santos had taught technical seminars and volunteered to teach STEM in his community. That combination helped steer him toward his true passion. “I decided to take the path less traveled and pursue this newfound passion for teaching,” said Santos.

He left a career in engineering to pursue a Ph.D. in business administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship. “For me, it was more interesting to develop a whole new set of skills than pursue an advanced degree in engineering,” said Santos. “As I learned more about the business side of things, that helped me become a better engineer. I could understand why a product’s success was so much more than product development.”

Santos joined Merrimack at the beginning of fall 2022 as an assistant professor of practice and a program director of the graduate management program at Merrimack’s Girard School of Business. 

One of the first things Santos did as program director was to rebuild the applied stats class and move from a purely mechanical curriculum to one that connects numbers to real-world business situations. 

“Students come into a class like statistics with a bit of trepidation,” he explained. “So many dread the class and think it will be the hardest one of the year. My goal is not to turn them into statisticians but for them to become comfortable with the practical application of data analysis. Connecting numbers to a real-world business situation makes more sense and is interesting, plus it’s such a useful skill to have regardless of their career path.”

Santos’ research focuses on the intersection of innovation, entrepreneurship and venture financing. 

“Entrepreneurship is an interesting and dynamic field that encompasses so many different areas—finance, research, marketing and product development,” he said. “My research looks at the different outcomes possible from VC financing, including the potential patents from the engineering side and investments on the business side.”

When asked about his decision to join Merrimack’s faculty, Santos was quick to respond. “People and culture are important to me,” he said. “Merrimack’s emphasis is on the student and wanting them to be successful. You don’t get that from every school. There’s a great community feel here.”


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