Jean-Jacques Degroof’s activities as an investor, mentor, and teacher have included work with various organizations in the United States and Belgium. An MIT alumnus, Jean-Jacques Degroof possesses a master’s and doctorate from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Over the years, he has remained involved with his alma mater, supporting MIT programs in various areas including entrepreneurship, arts, and technology.
At the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, students are exploring the world of virtual reality (VR) through a hands-on class that teaches 360-video camera work and visual storytelling. First taught in 2017, the semester-long class gives students the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art VR technology, including emergent equipment from Samsung Gear 360 and Oculus Rift. The class also introduces students to the art of VR filmmaking with the help of guest speakers from the VR field.
Under the guidance of instructor Sandra Rodriguez, students in the spring 2018 VR class completed various projects including an interactive game and a VR tour of the MIT campus. Students were able to complete the projects thanks to equipment provided by the Oculus NextGen program, which is currently advancing VR studies at 12 US universities.
Alongside his work as a successful investor and entrepreneur, Jean-Jacques Degroof takes a very active role in supporting the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Jean-Jacques Degroof earned a master’s and a doctorate in management from the school and has since helped advance several MIT programs and activities, including the Aging Brain Initiative at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory.
Founded in 1994, MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory seeks to advance the understanding of how certain mechanisms drive learning and memory and contribute to neurodegenerative disease. Recently Li-Huei Tsai, the institute’s director, led a team of researchers in a study examining APOE4, a gene variant that has been associated with a higher risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s.
In the comprehensive study, Tsai and other Picower Institute research scientists found that APOE4 promotes the accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins, which cause the plaque that is found in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients. Their experiments showed that the APOE4 variant promotes amyloid accumulation by stimulating excess amyloid secretion and disrupting the process by which astrocyte and microglia cells remove amyloid proteins and other foreign matter from their surroundings.
In addition to revealing how APOE4 facilitates the development of Alzheimer’s pathology, the scientists highlighted the potential for using gene-editing technology to treat the disease in patients with the APOE4 gene variant. The results of the study were published in the May 31, 2018, online edition of Neuron.
IWER PhD Program
Jean-Jacques Degroof is the holder of a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management. When pursuing his Ph.D., Jean-Jacques Degroof took courses in the school’s Institute of Work and Employment Research (IWER).
IWER was established to address the concerns of the 21st century workforce in light of generational, technological, and economic changes. It is a collaborative hub for the study of work and employment. Here, MIT faculty educate researchers on how to improve the way Americans work. The Institute does this through weekly seminars and a comprehensive PhD program.
IWER’s PhD program combines institutional knowledge with training on social-science practice. It is designed for students seeking advanced training in human resource management, labor-relations management, public policy, conflict management, sociology of work, and best employment practices. Coursework covers such topics as labor economics, collective bargaining, industrial relations, and the political economy. On top of these, students can attend related classes at MIT, including those on economics, anthropology, and political science.
MIT’s Creative Arts Competition
A venture investor, Jean-Jacques Degroof helps grow startups into successful companies. A former affiliate researcher at the MIT Industrial Performance Center, Jean-Jacques Degroof was in subsequent years involved in supporting MIT’s Creative Arts Competition as a sponsor and a member of its jury.
MIT’s Creative Arts Competition is an year-long program put together to accelerate startups focused on the intersection of the arts and technology. The competition is open to founders who have one or more MIT students on their teams and have ventures that have arts at their core – those that address the needs of artists, producers, and other arts stakeholders.
Participating teams enjoy benefits such as access to MIT’s START studio specialized programming and MIT’s arts entrepreneurship incubator. The teams also participate in workshops at the Sloan School in which students receive mentorship from past winners of the competition and from distinguished MIT alumni. The mentors cover topics such as pitch preparation, customer development, and business plan creation.
Participating teams are expected to develop viable business plans to be judged based on their focus on the arts, potential for impact, and sustainability. The winning team receives a cash prize of $15,000 presented as a grant.
Educational Counselor at MIT
An alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Jean-Jacques Degroof is an investor and educator who teaches entrepreneurship to business students across Europe. Outside of his professional life, Jean-Jacques Degroof serves as an educational counselor with the MIT Educational Council.
MIT educational counselors have a responsibility to serve as representatives of the university in their own communities. They also conduct interviews with MIT applicants to identify potential candidates for admission and to serve as a source of support for those who eventually become students at the institution. In order to become an educational counselor at MIT, an individual must meet certain requirements.
The primary requirement to become an educational counselor is that one must have earned an undergraduate or graduate degree at MIT. In addition, the university prefers to recruit individuals who have demonstrated enthusiasm about their own experiences as students at the university. Those who wish to become educational counselors must also commit to becoming familiar with events occurring at the university and be able to maintain positive relationships with young people.
MIT’s Educational Council
With degrees in business administration and organizational behavior from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, Jean-Jacques Degroof went on to earn an MS as well as a PhD in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. With a range of experience in the financial services industry and within academia, Jean-Jacques Degroof gives back in part as an Educational Counselor with MIT’s Educational Council.
Educational Counselors (ECs) are MIT alumni that help recruit prospective students and provide resources for them. ECs act like ambassadors for the school, offering recruits a personal connection through which they can ask questions, provide feedback on their experiences, and see the kinds of opportunities that may open up to them after they have graduated.
The idea for the Educational Council began in 1931 when MIT’s then-president Karl T. Compton chose exemplary graduates to be what he called “honorary secretaries” to recruit candidates for the school. The Council was formed officially in 1950 when it began to work with the Office of Admissions and the Office of Alumni to manage the high volume of applications that came in this way. Maintaining a close relationship between the school’s alumni and its new recruits helps to maintain a strong sense of continuity that contributes to MIT’s high-quality reputation.
“I came out of this conference with tons of ideas in my head, of course, but one of them is about the implication of this new digital economy on education and how we need to teach our children.”
“The way we educate children hasn’t changed much in the last 200 years, and is no longer well adapted to this new economy. Our model of education was built when we needed to produce clerks and workers in the food factories, so basically people who repeated mechanically day after day what they were told to do. Nowadays, we need another profile of workers that have more initiative [and] creativity, but the educational methods and models have not much changed. So I think young people are indeed bored at school. So that could be one explanation, but just one small part of the story.”