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Undergraduate Entrepreneurs: Novel Led Taillight Assembly Design, Prototyping, And Market Tests

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Technology-Based Entrepreneurship Courses

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1333.1 - 9.1333.6

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Paper Authors

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Michael Muhlbaier

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Peter Jansson

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Undergraduate Entrepreneurs: Novel LED Taillight Assembly Design, Prototyping and Market Tests Peter Mark JanssonA, Michael MuhlbaierA, Sebastian BlicharzB, Greg DigneoA A Rowan University/BDrexel University


Rowan University's Engineering Clinic courses have made it possible for motivated undergraduate entrepreneurs to take their creative ideas and turn them into prototypes. Spaghetti Engineering is a start up company whose short-term goal is to design and fabricate a high performance line of automotive taillights. It consists of a multidisciplinary team of five electrical and computer engineering and mechanical engineering students from two universities. Market studies completed by the students as part of this internal grant award show that the concept's potential for success would be sufficient to justify the development investment in prototypes and do further test marketing research. The project was undertaken as part of Rowan's Innovative Engineering Clinic which all junior and senior engineers must participate in. The student team competed in order to receive the award of $2,500. Funding for the award is made possible from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA). Rowan and NCIIA has created a Venture Capital Fund, specifically ear-marked for the development of original inventions by multidisciplinary student teams within the Junior and Senior Engineering Clinics. This arrangement gives the project team several extremely helpful benefits. In addition to the obvious benefit of monetary backing from the University the team also made use of many of the other university assets, the most important one being many laboratory and faculty resources. An entrepreneurial clinic project requires the support of two faculty advisors, an engineering advisor for technical design and a business advisor for the business start up and product to market techniques. Having these advisors brings years of knowledge and experience to the clinic team and greatly helps them increase the probability of success for the new venture. The team uses the Rowan College of Engineering's prototyping facilities, which include a comprehensive machine shop, a stereo-lithography machine, 3D wax printer, high-pressure water jet, and a host of other CAD/CAM and computer resources. With these combined assets and a motivated entrepreneurial team of undergraduate students the Rowan Engineering Clinic provides a hands- on, minds-on educational experience that helps students go from concept to prototype and from colleagues to business partners.


Since the Autumn of 1998 professors from Rowan University with funding from NCIAA, NSF and regional business have funded over a dozen student originated, developed, and designed business ideas. The Rowan Venture Capital Fund has helped students explore in real ways what it means to attempt entrepreneurial activity. The efforts of these students has led to two patents pending and three start-up companies. The Engineering Clinic at Rowan University College of

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Muhlbaier, M., & Jansson, P. (2004, June), Undergraduate Entrepreneurs: Novel Led Taillight Assembly Design, Prototyping, And Market Tests Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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