Capstone Projects in Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Appropriate Technology Solutions

Washington State University, 2005 - $23,000

Ideally, learning outcomes for engineering students emphasize the importance of social, cultural, and economic contexts in determining and commercializing appropriate technology. Building upon the foundation of a new interdisciplinary capstone project design course, faculty from Washington State University are extending E-Team activity into the international sphere through a partnership between the International Research Development Office, the College of Engineering and Architecture, the College of Business and Economics, and Total Land Care of Lilongwe, Malawi. E-Teams of engineering, business, and liberal arts students will develop prototypes and commercialization plans for sustainable technologies to be implemented in Malawi. E-Teams will work under the immediate supervision of course-dedicated engineering and business faculty, but will also rely on international development professionals both in the US and in the target country.

The course will be a two-semester sequence with an enrollment of thirty-five students, first offered fall 2005. A variety of projects will be identified for the E-Teams to choose from and at least one project selected each year will be for the development of an appropriate technology product in a foreign country. Students will progress from opportunity identification through planning, analysis, and feasibility stages in the first semester, then revise the plan and create a prototype for testing during the second semester. At the end of the course, the E-Teams will have developed a prototype product and a business plan to be presented in the WSU business plan competition. The projects will be evaluated on the innovativeness of solutions and the potential for commercialization.