June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Multidisciplinary Engineering and Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
24.103.1 - 24.103.16
A Technology Commercialization Course Sequence for Science and Engineering ABSTRACT Technology commercialization is a concerted multi-phase process in which a sequence of actionsis taken to bring a nascent technology to the market. In order to succeed, this process must includescientists and engineers not only at the birth of a technology but also during the subsequent phases of itscommercialization. The importance of incorporating elements of entrepreneurship and technologycommercialization in engineering education has been emphasized by the National Academy of Sciences(NAS) and is also echoed in “Engineer of 2020” report of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). This paper describes the development and implementation of a series of three TechnologyCommercialization courses at our University. Motivation for the development of this series came fromthe opinions of NAS and NAE, from the recommendations of our Industrial Advisory Board to educateengineers with business acumen, and the new focus on unifying skills (collaboration, communication,critical thinking, and creativity) in our curriculum. All topics covered in this series lay at the interface of technology and business. Broadly the firstcourse focused on technology assessment and feasibility studies, commonly accepted as the initial phasesof technology commercialization. The second course focused on business development and productlaunch, which are the intermediate phases of technology commercialization. Students received instructionon patents, copyrights, trademarks, costing and economic evaluations and practiced applying the SWOTanalysis (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats) to several business and managerial problems.Students also received training in project management, regulatory compliance, business strategy, and theuse of Porter’s Five Forces framework. The third course involved a team project, in which students usedthe knowledge acquired in the first two courses to evaluate the commercialization potential of a product.This course unified the students’ science, engineering, and business knowledge. Project based learningmethods were applied with instructors performing the role of coaches for projects. Students collected andanalyzed data, debated the implications of their findings, and came up with their recommendations on theviability of the technology they studied. The implicit challenge in developing a technology commercialization course is the integrationand balancing of business and technology. Instructors need to familiarize students with a host of newbusiness concepts, but they also need to make students comfortable with embracing uncertainty in dataand encourage them to make judgments based on incomplete information. The latter tasks arechallenging given the mostly deductive and converging mode of thinking of science and engineeringstudents. Our efforts and experiences in surmounting these challenges will be discussed. This paper will describe the pedagogical approaches we used for student engagement andcoherent delivery of business concepts. Also included will be the evaluation and team developmentmethods we applied. Several guest instructors from the industry brought a truly multi-disciplinarycharacter to this course sequence. In addition, students were given numerous opportunities to practicetheir critical thinking skills. This paper will detail our actions and student reactions.
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