Whether you intend to start a company or climb the ladder at a large engineering firm, Emerging Technologies and Engineering Entrepreneurship introduces a mindset and skills that will propel your career. Gaining an understanding of operations, finance, business plans, strategy, and valuation is critical as these parameters often dictate technical decisions. The goal of this course is to ensure you possess the knowledge needed to (a) recognize opportunities when they first appear, and to (b) approach such opportunities in a way that provides the best chance for success.
Many engineers mistake great ideas for success—but having a great idea is just the beginning: Execution is equally important, and it is that execution turns ideas into reality. Many times the difference between failure and success, between underperforming and outperforming, is simply a question of execution. (Consider the impact of execution on outcomes in F1 Pitstops: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlIGI3laGAo.)
In this course we will explore execution via fundamental concepts at the heart of technology entrepreneurship, including: business plans and canvases; market analysis; management challenges; accounting and financials; risk management; strategy; how to form a team; and venture financing.
Students will form teams which work toward launching a technology-based business venture, culminating at the end of the semester in a venture pitch to a panel of judges from industry and finance (Shark Tank!). Two major projects are associated with this course: An initial business plan at the beginning of the semester (which acts as a hypothesis for your business), and a revised business plan at the end of the semester (including a discussion of how your original understanding changed). Throughout the semester students work to further develop various sections of team business plans, and in the end students either prove or disprove initial hypotheses.
Students begin by analyzing technological need and market boundary conditions, in order to determine both design requirements (what is needed by the customer/market) and design specs (how to fulfill that need, and what to build and test against). Students test plans, then estimate Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), calculate operating expenses, build financial projections for profit and loss, balance projected cash flows, and calculate initial return on investment. Operating the foregoing design control and financial processes helps students acquire the holistic perspective required to translate societal needs into viable technical products and businesses. Students use active research or technical projects (e.g., senior capstone/clinic projects, undergraduate research projects, or graduate research projects) as a basis for both product and business designs.
This course serves as a capstone to the Engineering Entrepreneurship Program, culminating in a live Shark Tank opportunity. For the most motivated of students, it further provides a platform for affirmative venture launch.