Major changes are underway at UCCS, which will culminate in the development of a new series of degrees: a Bachelors of Innovation (BI) and a Masters of Innovation (MI). These degrees encompass traditional disciplines, such as computer science and business, but also provide students with an extensive “innovation core” of courses intended to make them familiar with the process of innovation. NCIIA funds provide support for the development and implementation of two elements of these majors: a freshman-level “Introduction to Innovation” course and the central course of the innovation core, the six-term “Innovation Team” course. The first introduces students to innovation processes, problem-solving, teamwork strategies, etc.; the second involves them in a hands-on project in a multidisciplinary team comprised of eight to twenty students, ranging from sophomores to graduate students.
The University of Texas at Austin received NCIIA funds in 2003 to further develop their pre-existing Idea to Product Technology Commercialization Program (I2P™). NCIIA funding provided seed money to E-Teams generated by the I2P Competition process to help improve the quality of their products and prototypes and increase the potential for taking their ideas to market; helped faculty initiate an international intercollegiate component of I2P Program; and helped faculty develop a new, innovative Austin Technology Incubator Affiliate (ATI) initiative.
In 2005 NCIIA funded the I2P Program again, this time with money going toward strengthening and institutionalizing the international competition component of the I2P™ program and thus significantly expanding the potential number of E-Teams generated.
The International I2P™ competition is modeled after both the MOOT CORP® competition and the UT Austin I2P™ regional competition. It's designed to be a pre-launch, pre-business plan competition that assesses the market opportunity, technological feasibility, and intellectual property position of innovations from teams representing the leading research universities around the world. The competition has grown from six teams in its inaugural year to thirteen teams this year and will be expanded next year to at least twenty teams. To date, the UT Austin I2P competition, which also focuses on the creation of entrepreneurial ventures grounded in science and technology, has attracted approximately 200 teams made up of a mix of ethnically and gender diverse undergraduate and graduate students from a broad cross-section of UT’s colleges and departments
The University of Kansas School of Engineering, in partnership with the Office of Technology Transfer, is implementing a university-wide program in entrepreneurship: the Multidisciplinary Entrepreneurship Thematic Learning Community (E’ship TLC), creating a culture of entrepreneurial thinking across the campus. The E’ship TLC will be open to participation from faculty and students (graduate and undergraduates) across all disciplines. A subset of the students will also be enrolled in entrepreneurship courses that integrate business into subject-specific courses. A part-time administrator will manage the courses and be responsible for publicity across the campus community. Students in new upper level multidisciplinary courses areas will form cross-functional entrepreneurship teams to explore faculty inventions. The E-Teams will evaluate the technology from a science, engineering, legal, and business perspective, creating a strong foundation for commercialization. In addition, faculty inventors will be involved in the entrepreneurial process. Underclassmen in the TLC will interact with students in the advanced courses and learn from their volunteer experiences. The program will initially focus on bioengineering-related disciplines.
Pennsylvania State University’s Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW), a student-led organization, was created in 2001 with the goal of providing undergraduate students with design and research opportunities that directly impact the lives of people in developing communities through active collaboration with university partners and host nations. Faculty in the Department of Engineering Design at Penn State are now creating a Service through Design and Entrepreneurship certificate to be offered through the College of Engineering in conjunction with the Entrepreneurship Minor.
Students receive the certificate after successful completion of a three-course series: Entrepreneurship Business Basics, which teaches intellectual property, finance, and marketing; Entrepreneurship and New Product Development, which examines the concept of new product launch within a mainstream company as student teams design, prototype a new product family, and then present the product concept to venture seed fund representatives from companies like General Electric; and Engineering Cultures, Appropriate Technology and Product Design in Developing Communities, which discusses appropriate technology and initiate collaborative team development between Penn State students and host university students working on preliminary problem recognition and design study.
Each year, two to four interdisciplinary E-Teams of four to six members are formed to address an infrastructure or product design problem in a developing community, specifically focused on addressing the needs of individuals living on less than $2 a day. Faculty, practicing engineers, NGO representatives, and community development practitioners work with teams as mentors.
Waste produced by the disposal of outdated computer systems presents a serious environmental problem. A team of business, engineering, and liberal arts faculty at Auburn University is developing balanced design curricula for junior and senior electrical engineering students that focus on sustainability design for computer equipment through teaching modules incorporated into existing courses and the development of Recycling the Toxic Computer, an elective senior design course. Auburn will also host a nationwide workshop on sustainable engineering curriculum development to disseminate the results of the program at the end of the three-year grant period.
Through modules inserted into laboratory courses, junior-year students learn the social, economic, and environmental impacts of computer system product design and manufacture. Senior-year students have the ability to incorporate sustainability constraints into the design of a computer system product, and seniors taking the elective design course demonstrate the design of a computer system product that meets sustainability requirements and generate a business plan for the product with the goal of bringing it to market.
NCIIA funding supported the creation of a new class in the Master of Engineering Management (MEMP) program at Duke University, entitled Engineering Entrepreneurship. Duke professors understand that, in today’s competitive environment, it is critical for engineering students to understand business issues, and the new course addresses this need. The course is designed to combine classroom entrepreneurship training with a team-based project whose goal is to develop a business plan to commercialize Duke University intellectual property. Teams of 4-6 students assess the technical and commercial viability of 3-5 inventive concepts developed by Duke researchers. The teams develop business plans and present them to a panel of judges consisting of business experts and potential small business investors. If the plans/products show commercial promise, the teams apply for NCIIA E-Team grants as well as receive funding from Entrepreneurial Fellowships from Duke University and the Duke Start-Up Challenge.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s D-lab is a four-part series of courses and field trips that focus on international development, appropriate technologies, and sustainable solutions for communities in developing countries. In the fall, students focus on issues of international development and appropriate technology and partner with community organizations in developing countries to apply what they have learned. During the winter Independent Activities Period (IAP), students travel to their partner organizations to implement their projects and identify other possibilities for collaboration. In the spring, students learn about the design process and apply it to create solutions to the problems identified on their field trip. Over the summer, students return to their field sites to implement their designs, conduct field tests, and get user feedback.
NCIIA funding helps to expand the design portion of the class to include E-Teams. 10-15 E-Teams work through the design process and construct prototypes using design methodologies and rapid-prototyping tools presented throughout the term. Guest speakers talk about their successes and failures, providing insight into project implementation strategies.
For this project, NCIIA funding supports the development of an ongoing Entrepreneurial Enterprise program at Michigan Technological University. EE builds on the success of the school’s Enterprise program, in which teams of 30-40 students with diverse skill sets are handed a project by an industrial sponsor. The team acts as a “company,” the students as “employees,” performing testing and analyses, manufacturing parts, staying within budgets and schedules, etc. The Enterprise lasts several years, and students leave and enter the Enterprise fluidly, imitating a real company.
The proposed EE program is very similar to the Enterprise program, but differs in one key way: in EE, students will not be handed a project but will instead find creative applications or modifications of technologies already "on-the-shelf” at MTU, with the intention of developing and commercializing products.
This project supports a new finance-based, interdisciplinary course at Pace University, titled Entrepreneurial Financial Computing. The course is designed for undergraduates in finance, management, computer science and information technology. Students form heterogeneous, interdisciplinary E-Teams whose goal is the creative solution of a financial problem for a determined market by developing commercially viable software applications. Once completed, these applications are available on a university website and released in CD-ROM formats.