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Structuring Senior Design For Entrepreneurs

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Entrepreneurship, Design, and PBL

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1149.1 - 10.1149.14



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Paper Authors

author page

Ken Ports

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Structuring Senior Design for Entrepreneurs

Ken Ports Florida Institute of Technology

Abstract The Senior Design course taken near the end of an engineer’s undergraduate tenure is increasingly recognized as a “capstone” activity, enabling these future professionals to apply their collegiate education and experience in a team environment to solving real world problems or to creating new capabilities. Ideally, Senior Design teams are also cross-functional, to broaden the projects and better replicate the professional world. In addition, there is a growing interest in linking Senior Design with entrepreneurial activities, even to the point of commercializing promising project results.

The Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department of Florida Tech has structured its senior design course sequence to replicate many of the activities that would be appropriate for a start-up venture, or a corporate product line introducing a new suite of products. In addition to the traditional preliminary and critical design reviews and a demonstration of the completed project, students learn about the industrial new product pipeline and generate feasibility studies, business plans, prototyping, validation reviews, and launch collateral to support a “market introduction” of their product, all in a “whole product” context. Senior Design culminates with a public “trade show” held as a feature of the University’s spring Open House for the families of interested high school students. Most of the teams span multiple engineering departments. This year, there are teams also spanning schools and colleges within the university, and at least one team spanning two universities.

A few years ago, no ECE senior design teams intended to commercialize their projects. Since the course sequence was restructured, a steadily increasing number of teams have become entrepreneurial. This year, seven of the thirteen ECE department senior design teams are intending to go to market with their projects. This paper provides a brief overview of how senior design at Florida Tech has been structured to support both entrepreneurs and “standard” students, a description of the team and course sequence interaction with the Florida Tech business accelerator, Florida TechStart, and other curricular support, and case studies of the entrepreneurial teams as they attempt to leverage their senior design projects into viable products and companies over the 18 month senior design cycle of courses.

Background The Florida Institute of Technology (aka Florida Tech) is a private university of about 4500 students located in Melbourne, on the high technology “Space Coast” of Florida, about 30 miles south of Cape Canaveral. The principal component of the university is the College of Engineering (CoE), which harbors about half of the total enrollment. The CoE offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. Within the College of Engineering are seven departments: Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical and Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Ports, K. (2005, June), Structuring Senior Design For Entrepreneurs Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14876

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2005 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015