Lots of people have great ideas for a new product, service, or app, but Western New England University students have the skills and resources to make them a reality. And many of them don't wait until they graduate to get started!
The College of Engineering helps students develop an entrepreneurial mindset from their very first year when they work on teams to produce a product using smart technology. Throughout their course of study, they have opportunities to participate in exciting competitions such as the Western Mass Innovation Jam, an intensive three-day start up exploration for students.
These ideas are turning into patents, real products, and multimillion-dollar companies like FloDesign, which was started by a former professor, headed by an alum, and staffed by other Western New England engineering and business interns and graduates. Launched with a $10 million investment from Bright Capital, FloDesign Sonics bills itself as “The filter-less filter company for life sciences and industrial applications.” Its mission is to pioneer a revolutionary approach to harnessing the power of acoustics to capture, separate, and manipulate particles or cells in fluid. Such tools present unlimited opportunities to transform the filtration process across multiple industries, including bioprocessing, cell therapy manufacturing, and other life sciences.
Bring Your Best Ideas to Life
In the business world, engineers and business professionals work collaboratively to develop ideas and bring them to the marketplace. At Western New England University, we put our engineering and business students in the same class; the Product Development and Innovation course, where they learn how their roles will intersect in the real world. Student teams are challenged to create and market a new product, through a simulated work environment. Our teams have competed at the annual American Society of Mechanical Engineers Innovation Showcase (IShow) and placed in the top 10 four times.
Hit the Ground Running On Your Next Great Idea
Each fall, Western New England University hosts a 3 Day Startup (3DS) event, a 72-hour learning-by-doing campus workshop that teaches entrepreneurial skills to university students in an extreme hands-on environment. This national movement that takes place at colleges and universities all over the country puts students in an intense and hands-on environment. In the course of a long weekend, students get a crash course in a variety of entrepreneurial skills such as idea formation, market research, rapid prototyping, and pitching a final product. By the end of the weekend, groups of students will have created and pitched their own start-up company. Undergraduate and graduate students in all majors are invited to participate in the Western New England University event at which local entrepreneurs serve as mentors and judges.
3DS provides out students with resources and knowledge to not only create a foundation for a business, but to also build on their success. Many participants pursue their ideas beyond 3DS weekend and have created their own companies and products.
Kern Entrepreneurial Network (KEEN) Partnership
KEEN Entrepreneurial Teaching Initiatives at the College of Engineering
The College of Engineering established a partnership with the Kern Entrepreneurial Network (KEEN) in order to collaborate with other partner institutions and contributors to develop and identify the best solutions and practices in modern engineering. This partnership also offers support to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset in undergraduate students. The College of Engineering has received multiple grants from KEEN designed to bolster our Engineering students’ education in order to better position our graduates for the demands of their field.
An abbreviated list of accomplishments from these grant efforts included:
- Student groups have been sponsored to attend workshops and competitions. last year 4 students traveled to Palo Alto, CA for 1 week and meet with entrepreneurs and business leader in Silicon Valley.
- 100 % of current 1st year engineering students participate in entrepreneurial minded learning activities.
- 100% of current 2nd year engineering students participate in entrepreneurial minded learning activities.
- 47 WNE faculty have attended and participated in our 4 day entrepreneurial minded learning workshops.
- The faculty of the College of Engineering and the School of Business have disseminated scholarly work related to student demonstration of entrepreneurial thinking.
Student Entrepreneurial Success
One start up from the 3DS program was particularly successful, from concept to execution. AnyCafé, which is comprised of alumni from the College of Business and Engineering, created a travel mug that brews coffee on the go. They ran a successful Kickstarter campaign, completed the Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) Accelerator Program, and now have their own office space and are in the production process. CEO Logan Carlson ’17 has also given a TEDx Talk and was the Keynote Speaker at the 2017 Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Conference. Watch a video interview of the team on PBS.