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Entrepreneurship Summer Class A Rousing Success

SOCORRO, N.M.  July 9, 2014 – New Mexico Tech hosted the second annual summer class in commercializing technology, with nine students in five  groups participating.

Dr. Raul Deju returned to teach the course. Deju earned his bachelor’s and doctorate at New Mexico Tech in the late 1960s and went on to a successful career in industry. He is a serial entrepreneur, book author and faculty member at John F. Kennedy University in Concord, Calif., where he directs the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

“The course makes you think further than just developing the material for a technical peer reviewed paper to discuss your findings,” Deju said “Instead the course helps you see how through innovation and entrepreneurship your products can lead to developing a new product or services that betters humanity. Tech is ripe for taking that extra step.”

Dr. Peter Anselmo, chair and professor of the Management Department, helped launch the class last year. He said the second version of the class again was successful in providing students and faculty with broad knowledge about commercialization, funding avenues, legal concerns, marketing, branding and presentation skills.

The week-long workshop is a 400-level class in the Management Department. Anselmo also recently launched the Center for Leadership in Technology Commercialization – with support from Deju and others – which aims to provide technical, legal and financial support to professors who have made viable breakthroughs in science and/or engineering.

“As a STEM university, we want to be an entrepreneurship university, where our professors and students are thinking about marketability, licensing, and starting new companies based on their technologies” Anselmo said. “All these projects fit in with what we’re doing with the Center for Leadership in Technology Commercialization. And we’re also giving students experience.”

The weeklong class culminated with each team presenting their new technology in the style they would give to potential funding entities on Saturday, June 7.

The five projects included network security software, an anti-bacterial compound, a portable solar sterilizer, a stroke rehabilitation glove and a magnetic refrigeration unit.

Dr. Bhaskar Majumdar, professor of materials engineering, is leading a team of students developing a magnetocaloric refrigeration device that utilizes a solid material rather than a gas refrigerant for cooling purposes.

“Prior to this class, students are not familiar with how to bring technology to commercialization,” Majumdar said. “This class gives them a first glimpse at how they can go about taking concepts or ideas to the marketplace.”

Majumdar is working closely with three students in particular – Jarrett Petrin, who took Deju’s class, Kim Wallace, and Phil Hurley.  The students are sponsored by the Center for Leadership in Technology Commercialization, which enables them to explore existing patents in the area, interact with potential customers, and work on alternative designs for a prototype motor to implement the new idea.

“I have seen very clearly that these students are extremely motivated to bring an idea to the market,” Majumdar said. “I’m impressed with the amount of work they’ve done and they’ve done so in a systematic manner.”

Dr. Snezna Rogelj, professor of biology, is the principal investigator of a long-term INBRE project to discover novel compounds that kill drug-resistant bacteria. One of her newer students, Kailee Zingler, took Deju’s class and presented the concept.

“This class helps in a really fundamental way,” Rogelj said. “All their life, students have been taught science or engineering. Very infrequently do they get an insight on how the worlds of science and entrepreneurialship are connected. Raul Deju understands both worlds and he gives an overarching perspective of what it’s like to make the transition. This class is really unprecedented at our university and probably quite rare for any university.”

Rogelj said her team is already seeing the benefits of Tech’s new focus on commercializing intellectual property. She said students are learning things that aren’t available in text books.  The student team is another that is sponsored by the Center for Leadership in Technology Commercialization, which has enabled the students to work on patent preparation and to attend a bio-science technology-commercialization conference recently in San Diego.

“We’re seeing it pay off and it’s fantastic,” she said. “Kailee has been instrumental in putting together an exciting and clear communiqué for investors. It’s clear that her youth, personality and vigor all figure in strongly in being able to pull this off. She is allowed to transcend into a world that was not accessible to us and Raul Deju made that happen.”

Rogelj said the class is another sign that the institution is making significant strides in giving faculty new avenues of development.

“Raul Deju is guiding this creative science and engineering school towards a new focus on capitalizing on our intellectual property,” she said. “By making New Mexico Tech acutely conscious of the entrepreneurial opportunities that are already being created by the very nature of our STEM institution (from classes to senior projects and to graduate research), he is opening the door to our institutional recovery by empowering the very creators that have been here all along. We have Peter Anselmo to thank for bringing him in and critically supporting him in this process.”

A third CLTC- sponsored team participated in the weeklong bootcamp. Chancse Pittard and John Friedrich are working on commercialization of a computer-network monitoring technology developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. These students, who have been interviewing potential customers for the new product, will be going to California soon to meet with the inventors of the product as part of their CLTC efforts.

Deju said he was impressed with the progress the students made over the week-long course. 

All five presentations are available for individual viewing via the following links:

Hygiea/Kailee Zingler -- http://breeze.nmt.edu/hygiea2014/

NeMSYX (LLL Project)/Pittard/Friedrich -- http://breeze.nmt.edu/nemsyx2014/

Helianthus/Laudadio/Sharkey -- http://breeze.nmt.edu/helianthus2014/

Sygma Cyborg/Ghosh -- http://breeze.nmt.edu/sygmacyborg2014/

Active Magnetic Refrigeration/Petrin -- http://breeze.nmt.edu/actmagref2014/

“The course focuses on making them think how their ideas are different than anything else available and especially how they can turn these ideas into a product or service,” Deju said. “I think the students matured enormously in defining the steps needed to bring their projects to fruition and the processes to nurture the benefits of their innovation.”

– NMT –