- Year 2016
- NSF Noyce Award # 1240059
- First Name Thomas
- Last Name Manning
- Discipline Chemistry
Brian Gerber, Valdosta State University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas Manning, VSU, email@example.com
Our undergraduate group of science majors has participated in two NSF ICORP programs; artificial reefs and antibiotics. This was a valuable experience to not only evaluate the commercialization potential of our new material for artificial reefs and our new line of antibiotics (TB) drugs, but it also forced students to understand how their research might impact society. Pitch contests in academia are becoming a venue for university research groups to determine if their projects has commercial potential.
These contests push students and faculty to convert fundamental research projects and concepts into real world solutions. Our group has participated in several of these national contests and would like to use this experience to transform an existing approach to undergraduate education that studies a problem to one that understands and solves the problem with real world constraints.
The three day pitch format we describe is based on the concepts of these contests and includes aspects such as literature and patent searches, public presentations, and drafting a business plan. The exercise presents a problem to a group of students (i.e. explosion of an invasive species), asks them to research the topic at a fundamental level, develop a working solution, examine the current market, examine the U.S. Patent database and draft a short patent application using a template, draft a business plan using a template, and then conclude the intensive workshop by pitching their product to a group of judges and the other teams.
In early June (we are having a four day retreat) at the Florida State University marine lab in which this process will be implemented and tested. Five of the ten participating students are Noyce scholars. At the end of the four day process, they will evaluate how well they learned the topic and whether it can be miniaturized for a high school class.
This approach blends learning about a real world problem with capitalism. The PI’s experience has been that students of all ages become more excited about a topic when they see the real world benefit.