July 27, 2018
As the Technology Commercialization Academy (TCA), comes to an end, students are ready to showcase new knowledge and skills acquired throughout the program.
“We have all learned many useful skills that can be helpful in our future careers, such as how to use the Fit Test, the Sprint process and ideation,” said Blake Watson, TCA participant.
Throughout the TCA, students learn and demonstrate four new skills such as initiative, evidence-based decision making, multidisciplinary collaboration and professional accountability.
In TCA, students are provided with intellectual property, designs or concept ideas. From there, they apply those ideas or concepts towards problems consumers are facing. They create potential product ideas, design a business model and build a prototype to solve that problem.
“After the first few weeks, a lot of our projects were self-directed. We have to take initiative to know what our next step is and know when to pivot during a project,” said Lizzy Gardner, TCA participant. “Also, some of us took the initiative to go out into the community to interview people, or go get materials for our projects outside of Innovation Pointe.”
Evidence-based decision making
As the TCA experience is rooted in evidence-based decision making, students use data and research to explore consumer trends and pains, which leads to a proposed course of action. They then build prototypes to resolve that pain, while identifying key partners, activities and resources needed to launch their potential product.
“We watched a video on the Jobs To Be Done Theory and what pushed consumers towards the point of purchase,” said Watson. “After studying the theory, we practiced interviewing each other about why we decided to join TCA, and we also brought in guests and practiced interviewing them. The main thing we learned is that we needed to find the struggling moment for consumers because that is the seed of innovation.”
During the program, students work in teams of three to six where they are paired with other students from all campus disciplines, making TCA a multidisciplinary collaboration.
While business and engineering students typically represent the largest percent of cohort, pairing them with students of other disciplines helps round out the discussion and produce better potential products.
“At first, I was a little unsure about what I could bring to the program because I’m an advertising major. A majority of the other interns are engineering majors, but I feel like we all bring different skills and abilities to the program and work well together,” said Watson.
Student teams are wholly responsible for the outcomes of the TCA, which concludes in a pitch event where they present their experiences and product ideas to the USI community, our partners at NSWC Crane and the public who may potentially be their hiring managers.
“This whole program is very student based. We’re putting our name on these projects, which can be intimidating but also give us a sense of responsibility and force us to make quality results,” said Gardner.
While students apply these new skills to their final pitches, they will also apply them in their future classes, interviews, jobs and careers.
“The most important thing I have taken away from the TCA program is the development of my critical thinking skills and being able to apply them in many different situations,” said Watson.
To learn more about the Technology Commercialization Academy, visit USI.edu/TCA.
By Delaney Somers, USI Opportunity Development Communications Intern
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