The Creative Entrepreneurs Organization: Developing Innovative Products and Businesses

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Virginia Tech

Global socioeconomic trends are changing the nature of the American workplace. To address the challenges brought about by these changes, American engineering education must focus on developing students into future professionals, equipped to thrive in the fast-paced, technologically intense, globally competitive workplace of the future. One of the most effective ways to prepare students to face the future is by teaching them to innovate.

This thesis presents the "Creative Entrepreneurs Organization: Developing Innovative Products and Businesses" (CEO) concept as a method by which Virginia Tech could help students learn innovation. The CEO concept is a student-involvement program intended to develop students into successful entrepreneurs as they work together in small teams to develop and market intellectual property. This Program is intended to produce revenue for the University by virtue of the successful commercialization of the intellectual properties it generates. Additionally, the CEO Program will allow faculty and students to share in the financial rewards associated with the intellectual properties they generate.

The CEO Program concept is presented in light of current trends in the business and academic worlds. Various issues related to its implementation are addressed. The Program is evaluated for its expected value to students, to the University, to the State, and to the Nation. A survey is presented by which the success of the Program can be measured.

For the CEO concept to be successfully realized, several challenges must be overcome. First, the University must embrace this somewhat unorthodox Program in which both educational and financial motives play significant roles. Second, there must be a Program Advocate who will be able to effectively communicate the value and feasibility of the Program. Third, fiscal and physical resources must be available to ensure the successful start-up and operation of the CEO Program. Finally, the Program must find ways to nurture creativity in its participants.

I conclude that the effort required to implement the CEO Program is outweighed by its potential benefits to students, to the University, to the State of Virginia, and to the Nation. Therefore, I recommend that the Virginia Tech College of Engineering consider the CEO Program for implementation.

Engineering Education, Innovation, Entrepreneur, Intellectual Property