5 Schools That Cater to Undergrads Who Want to Be Tech Innovators
Almost all entrepreneurship programs offer students the chance to develop new tech products.
Below you'll find five schools highlighting these opportunities for undergraduates.
1. Northeastern University (Boston, MA)
Northeastern's entrepreneurship concentration offers three tracks, including technology ventures. This track features specific courses focused on technological innovation, marketing, business model design, business planning, and venture finance. In addition approximately 100 students are placed in a variety of cooperative education positions every six months at companies including Kayak, DataXu, and Akamai (just to name a few!). The school has also launched a newly designed entrepreneurship minor for non-business school students, which has a focus on technology-intensive entrepreneurship. It leverages a number of courses within the concentration and minor, but also has specific lean design/product development courses within each participating college. Student ventures from both the entrepreneurship concentration, major and the campus-wide minor flow into the on-campus incubator, called IDEA, in which there are presently over 140 active ventures.
2. Baruch College (New York, NY)
In order to help students graduate with both a diploma and a business, Baruch offers courses covering the intersections of technology, design, and entrepreneurship, as well as social business entrepreneurship. These courses help students develop a foundation for starting and managing a tech business and taking a strategic approach to the development of technology and innovation. Other topics include business planning, sources of capital, exit strategy, market tactics, product lifecycles, legal issues, and success factors. Students are encouraged to consider the components of a business at a managerial level and develop the skill set necessary for the high-growth technology industry.
The course "Business Meets 3D Digital Design and Fabrication" helps students explore how the choices and processes on makes when designing and creating three-dimensional objects are also a series of business choices, processes and decisions. Readings, case studies, and hands-on projects emphasize the development of critical skills and their application to business and design issues of the present. Students will learn some of the fundamental principles of three-dimensional design (line-plane-volume-mass-space-light) and have access to using digital tools in the design and creation process such as computer-aided design (CAD) programs and rapid prototyping (RP) technologies for three-dimensional visualization. The course focuses on the business context of entrepreneurial and startup ventures.
3. Miami University (Oxford, OH)
The Institute for Entrepreneurship provides a number of opportunities for students to explore technological innovation in the startup, social and corporate entrepreneurship contexts. Two such examples are the San Francisco Digital Innovation (SFDI) Program (in collaboration with the Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies) and Project High Flight (in collaboration with the School of Engineering). SFDI, a semester-long immersion experience in Silicon Valley, offers entrepreneurship students the chance to intern with and visit with some of the top technology companies in the world, including: Apple, Uber, Yapstone, Google, eBay, Facebook, Twitter, Ubisoft, and Salesforce.com.
On campus, the Institute has worked closely with faculty in the School of Engineering to create Project High Flight, a multi-year program designed to give entrepreneurship students firsthand experience in corporate and technological innovation in the field of aviation. Students in Project High Flight are involved in the medical/bio field testing of innovations at very high altitudes (above 20,000 feet), as well as the commercialization process of those technologies.
4. University of Dayton (Dayton, OH)
At U Dayton, programs in innovation and new product innovation are offered jointly by the School of Engineering and the School of Business Administration. The new product innovation minor is a 15-hour program, including courses in new product development and innovative design and entrepreneurship). Both are project-based courses, where students identify opportunities, and research new products to bring to market. The two required courses are linked, creating in effect a year-long, six hour course. In the second course, students develop either a mock up or a working prototype of their idea, as well as a full business plan.
Students are encouraged to enter their projects into the University of Dayton Business Plan Competition. In addition, students who enter the business plan competition are encouraged to submit their projects to the Innovation Center's courses in multidisciplinary design. One team from the past year was a handheld game controller that can be used by children suffering from cerebral palsy. Students developed multiple working prototypes, a business plan, and provided information on obtaining a license from Sony, as well as information on the availability of intellectual property protection.
5. Clarkson University (Potsdam, NY)
In the Innovation and Entrepreneurship senior capstone course, Commercializing Innovation, a portfolio of senior engineering capstone projects that have been designed, developed, and tested by engineering students is reviewed by students for commercialization potential. Students in the course conduct market research, suggest product improvements, and provide a recommendation for further commercialization options. Students are also provided with an opportunity to license the technology if they are interested in further pursuit of the project. The Invention Capstone Design Class has seen 52 students develop inventions and file twenty provisional patent applications. Student inventions include: flexible body armor, temperature-resistant cell phone case, tangle-free pet leash, and a therapeutic device for paraplegics. Student Projects for Engineering Experience and Design (SPEED) makes project-based team learning experiences available to all undergraduate students. The program also works to increase the project involvement of women and students of color.
Many of the SPEED project opportunities stem from national engineering design competitions, like FIRST Robotics and Destination Imagination. In these competitions students conceptualize, design, build and test products. Most of the projects are multidisciplinary in nature, with contributions from students from many academic disciplines including, engineering, business, science, and liberal arts. The heart of the SPEED program lies in solving open-ended problems that require research, creativity and risk-taking.