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New center to help entrepreneurial student engineers

October 4, 2013

How students will use the center

Video (1 min 44 sec)

Videography by UC Davis Engineering

Entrepreneurial-minded students at the UC Davis College of Engineering will soon have a dedicated on-campus space to prototype their ideas and collaborate on technology ventures that lead to new startup companies.

The Engineering Student Startup Center will be launched with a special event on Friday, Oct. 11, from 3 to 6 p.m. in the lobby of Ghausi Hall.

"Integrating entrepreneurship opportunities into engineering education is part of the vision for our college’s success for the future," said Enrique Lavernia, dean of the College of Engineering, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Many engineering students are eager to see their ideas in the marketplace but aren't sure how to proceed, Lavernia said. The ESSC will enlarge their educational experience by incorporating opportunities for technology innovation, he said.

The keynote speaker at the Oct. 11 event will be Tina Seelig, professor at the Stanford School of Engineering and the executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. Other speakers include: Lavernia; Bruce White, director of the UC Davis Engineering Translational Technology Center; Natalie Qabazard, a student and president of the UC Davis Engineering and Technology Entrepreneurship Club; and Lucas Arzola, a recent UC Davis graduate and founder and CEO of BetaVersity, a company that specializes in creating spaces for technology design and entrepreneurship within universities and startup incubators. The event is jointly organized by the UC Davis College of Engineering and BetaVersity,

BetaVersity will run one-day "hackathon" sessions Oct. 12 and 13 where students will learn how to best use the center's physical space and prototyping equipment. The event also will feature mentoring sessions on topics related to idea generation, prototype creation and technology commercialization.

The center features resources to empower students at the early stages of their technology ventures. These include a color 3-D printer for generating physical prototypes; a 3-D scanner for digitizing physical models; and a computer-controlled machine tool for milling and machining of plastics, wood and aluminum. Operating under the direction of the ETTC, the new center will be staffed by part-time students with consulting support from BetaVersity.

"In the two years since the inception of ETTC, we have already successfully graduated three faculty startups with private investment, with several more in the works," White said. "The next logical step in our development is to empower students in a similar way. ESSC provides a learning platform to teach students about the process of generating ideas and evaluating the technical and commercial feasibility of engineering prototypes, through applied classroom instruction and peer-to-peer mentoring."

The College of Engineering plans to establish a new course — Introduction to Engineering Entrepreneurship — to be incorporated into the technology management minor. The course will integrate lectures and homework assignments with hands-on activities that reinforce the concepts taught in class.

ESSC will offer early-stage support and assistance to students as they attempt to develop their entrepreneurial ideas. The center also will incorporate interaction with highly successful alumni entrepreneurs, programs in the Graduate School of Management at UC Davis, and national entrepreneurship organizations that can provide mentorship to the emerging student-led startups.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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