“This is transformation!” said Debbie Dewey, Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville (GAGE) executive director, during closing remarks of the pilot Technology Commercialization Academy at the University of Southern Indiana.
USI wrapped up its Technology Commercialization Academy (TCA) on June 8, with students making final pitches for their products to area businesses and potential financial investors.
For five weeks, six engineering students and six business students from USI worked full time to develop ideas and business strategies around commercialization of several Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division (NSWC Crane) patents. The academy, made possible through a Lilly Endowment Sustaining Grant, began on May 1.
“Six years ago we started the thought process to get moving in this direction,” said Dr.Scott Gordon, dean of the Pott College of Science, Engineering, and Education, explaining how the academy has been one result of an ongoing collaboration with Dr.Mohammed Khayum, dean of the College of Business. “We wanted to find more ways to work together,” he said. “That vision is now a reality. I’m excited to see it come to fruition.”
Brian Wilson, IT manager for Escalade Sports in Evansville, was impressed by what he saw during the presentations. “These students have done a lot in a short amount of time,” he said. “I see value for the students and for companies.” Wilson said he was impressed by all of the presentations. As a representative of Escalade Sports, he was particularly interested in aspects of the Smart Target technology pitched by one of the teams.
Throughout the process, students utilized USI and Crane resources to develop a business model and produce prototypes of selected technologies. On June 5, the teams traveled to NSWC Crane for the second time during the five-week academy to present their ideas to officials there, including several of the original inventors.
Dewey encouraged those in the audience to become a part of an ongoing rapid experimentation and commercialization culture in southern Indiana. She suggested they become a resource for future efforts and use the process in their own companies. “This project has been transformational for USI, Crane, GAGE, and our region,” she said.
“This is an extremely important project for us to gain insights into and increase the pace of technology transfer between Crane, USI, and others in southwestern Indiana,” said Dr. Khayum. “It’s an illustration of our commitment to engage the students in our business and engineering programs in meaningful ways for their personal and professional development. We think we can use this rapid experimentation process to accelerate tech transfer in our region.”
USI’s Office of Outreach and Engagement is already looking ahead. “With the remarkable results this year, we’re looking at how we can raise the bar for next year," said Andrew Moad, USI crane partnership manager.
Photo Credit: USI Photo Services
Patrick Elpers, an engineering major, talks about Smart Cloth, an application of Smart Skin, one of three patented NSWC Crane technologies used by USI students in a recent Technology Commercialization Academy.