Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Turning Engineers into Change Makers

Drive innovation from concept to commercialization – that’s the goal of one of the first initiatives – a four-course management training program for engineering students - of the new Institute of the Global Entrepreneur at the University of California San Diego. We sat down with a few of the students in program to get their thoughts on how they see it helping them translate their technology to the marketplace.

Nick Forsch, Bioengineering, Ph.D. Grad Year ‘19
“I caught the startup bug when I participated in a biomedical design competition - I love the innovation that comes out of small groups of people working towards a common goal with limited resources,” said Nick Forsch, a bioengineering PhD student at UC San Diego. “The nature of startups forces product design to focus on the essential components for meeting the needs of the target market.”

Upon arriving at UC San Diego after his undergraduate education at Washington University in St. Louis, Forsch joined bioengineering professor Andrew McCulloch’s cardiac mechanics lab. McCulloch’s research focuses on understanding the development of heart failure using models of cardiac electromechanics. When he’s not in class or the lab, Forsch is on of the vice presidents of the Bioengineering Graduate Society and enjoys playing soccer.

Originally from Huntington Beach, California, Karcher Morris came to UC San Diego to complete an undergraduate degree, and eventually a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. When he’s not in class or doing research in Professor Frank Talke’s mechanics lab, Morris can be found in the EnVision Arts and Engineering Maker Studio where he TAs a number of experiential learning courses, or learning about business.
Karcher Morris, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Ph.D. Grad Year ‘18

“About a year and a half into my Masters, I decided to switch into a Ph.D. program because I had a great lab and a great PI,” said Morris. “At that point, I wondered about an MBA program. With undergraduate degrees in both aerospace engineering and management science, I was always looking for that well-rounded experience.”

According to Morris, it was one or the other when it came to graduate school. “I could either further my technical skillset or switch to business.”

Morris is part of the first course in the new program.

“This class has given me a new perspective because I’m working with a diverse group of motivated engineers.”

Somayeh Imani found her niche in circuit design of wearable sensors – and it opened her eyes to the world of startups.

Group photo of Patrick Mercier's Energy-Efficient Microsystem lab. Imani is second from the left in the back row.
“There is so much opportunity in the field of wearables to commercialize technology,” said Imani, who is a graduate student in the Energy-Efficient Microsystem lab of Patrick Mercier, the Co-Director of the Center for Wearable Sensors at the University of California San Diego. “But commercialization is hard – you need a business plan and marketing skills –things that engineers don’t usually learn much about during their degree.”

Imani is part of the new pilot course – the first of four in the Technology Management and Entrepreneurism Fellowship Program – that aims to turn engineers into change makers through exposing them to the lab to market commercialization process. Participants earn a certificate at the end of four quarters.


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