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Proof of Concept, LLC: A Private Company Facilitating University Entrepreneurship and Industry Interaction

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Novel Entrepreneurship Programs

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1197.1 - 22.1197.8

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Paper Authors


Robert S. Crockett California Polytechnic State University

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Robert Crockett received his Ph.D. from University of Arizona in Materials Science and Engineering. He holds an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from University of California, Berkeley. He is currently Professor and Director of the General Engineering Program at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Dr. Crockett is a specialist in technology development and commercialization of advanced materials and manufacturing processes. Prior to joining Cal Poly, he was founder and President of Xeragen, Inc., a San Luis Obispo-based biotechnology startup company. He has also served as an Assistant Professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering and was employed by McDonnell Douglas Space Systems Company, where he was a lead engineer and Principal Investigator on projects to develop technology evolution plans for the Space Station.

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Daniel W. Walsh California Polytechnic State University

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Daniel Walsh is currently a Professor of Biomedical and General Engineering, and a Professor of Materials Engineering at the College of Engineering at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He received his B.S. (Biomedical Engineering) , M.S. (Biomedical Engineering) and Ph.D. (Materials Engineering) degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Prior to joining Cal Poly, Dr. Walsh was employed by General Dynamics Corporation, as a principal engineer and group leader in the Materials Division.

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Proof of Concept, LLC: A Private Company Facilitating University Entrepreneurship and Industry InteractionThis paper describes a private company that sits at the interface of the corporate and academicworlds. Although created as a for-profit entity that does not involve a formal partnership withthe University, the company supplements a role traditionally handled by university corporaterelations offices: delivering funded, challenging multidisciplinary projects to student teams.Proof of Concept is a contract engineering firm that leverages University resources through aseries of “fee-for-use” rental agreements for key equipment (e.g. wind tunnels, SEMs, anechoicchambers, etc), providing engineering R&D services with a core competency in early-stagereduction to practice of technology-based ideas. Teams are formed on a per-project basis,consisting primarily of upper-division engineering students, with key faculty expertise andtechnical advising provided through consultant agreements. Typical products are “skunkworks”-type operations, with rapid development, prototyping, and validation of client technology. AllIntellectual Property generated during the project is owned entirely by the client. This modelremoves many of the constraints of industry partnerships and technology transfer, and iscurrently being used by the University as both an incubator for student/faculty/staff innovation aswell as a means to acquire solid, industrially relevant projects for Senior design students.

Crockett, R. S., & Walsh, D. W. (2011, June), Proof of Concept, LLC: A Private Company Facilitating University Entrepreneurship and Industry Interaction Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC.

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