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Fostering Student Innovators through Small Prototyping Grants - Student Engagement in the Beta Program

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Entrepreneurship and Innovation Beyond the Classroom

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Antonie J. Jetter Portland State University

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Antonie Jetter is an Associate Professor of Engineering & Technology Management and Director of the Innovation Program (2015-2016) in the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science at Portland State University. While still in college, she was on the founding team of a venture-backed start-up company in equipment manufacturing, an experience that ultimately led her to pursue a PhD in Technology and Innovation Management from RWTH Technical University, Germany. Antonie teaches courses on new product development, entrepreneurship, and technology marketing to graduate students in engineering. Her research interests are in new product development, managerial cognition, and decision making.

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Gerald W. Recktenwald Portland State University

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Gerald Recktenwald is an Associate Professor in the Mechanical and Materials Engineering Department at Portland State University. His current research interests are in improving engineering education, and in the numerical simulation and measurement of fluid flow heat transfer in electronic equipment, energy efficient buildings, and other industrial applications.

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The Beta Project was created to inspire and support innovation in engineering students at XX University. Each academic term, student teams are invited to submit brief proposals for up to $1000 in funding to purchase materials and equipment for prototype development. Proposals are screened by the Innovation Council, which consists of faculty, staff and community members. If the proposal passes an initial screening, the student team is invited to give a 5 minute presentation, followed by 5 minutes of questions from the Innovation Council. A simple majority vote of Council members decides whether the project is supported. In addition to funding for hardware and supplies, students with winning proposals are provided a faculty mentor and, as needed, access to lab space and other equipment. Since inception the Beta Project has received 259 applications and agreed to fund 124 projects (48%). However, despite impressive results in some projects, several of the approved projects have stalled or been abandoned by the student teams. We summarize the experience with the Beta Project and discuss our current understanding of how to increase student participation and success of projects funded by the program.

Jetter, A. J., & Recktenwald, G. W. (2017, June), Fostering Student Innovators through Small Prototyping Grants - Student Engagement in the Beta Program Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28383

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