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The Missing Link for Supporting Business Start-Ups and Innovation: A Workforce Model (Update 2/24/17)

Entrepreneurs gain access to equipment and talent to build prototypes, and college students earn work experience and money for college.

Photo of Ina Agnew

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The Need (Updated 2/1/17)

According to Forbes magazine, "small business is - quite frankly - big business" (Leinbach-Rehyle, 2014). Nationally, 63% of new jobs have come from small businesses. 90% of start-ups fail, and only 50% of small businesses survive five years or more (Forbes, 1/2015).  In our energy-centric State of Oklahoma, diversification is necessary to ensuring economic stability.  One of the best ways to diversify is by doing a better job of supporting business start-ups, expansions, and innovators.

The Idea (1/17)

The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology (OCAST) is one way in which the State provides funding to entrepreneurs and inventors. Businesses and inventors apply to the Inventors Assistance Service. The applicant's ideas are vetted for feasibility, and checked for patent infringement. Once approved, applicants are sent to the New Product Development Center (NPDC), operated under the auspices of OCAST, to get help with the design of their inventions, and to make connections to other funding sources. If approved, NPDC assists the entrepreneur/inventor with funding through OCAST's sources.

The missing link (refer to Missing Link Project Chart for OCAST) is how to support businesses who need to produce a prototype that they can test and get mass produced or, how to economically produce limited runs of a "part"they need to improve operations/efficiencies. This is a critical period for the business as it needs time to secure capital to make the parts itself, or the prototype to demonstrate that it can provide a return on investment for potential investors.

Herein enters the partnership between OSU Institute of Technology (OSUIT) and OCAST. Initially, the NPDC will connect businesses that need assistance with the manufacturing program at OSUIT.  Over time, and with proven successes, the partnership will expand to include other programs such as civil engineering technologies, electronics/instrumentation, and other degree programs offered through OSUIT. Faculty and students will meet with the entrepreneurs/inventors to discuss needs and will engage in real, hands-on projects to produce the prototypes and limited runs.

Current Versus Proposed Process (Added 2/7/17)

Currently, if entrepreneurs/innovators are interested in producing a prototype, the process means working through multiple organizations (“touch”) who handle a single piece of the work, and don’t know or understand how its separate parts, the final product, will work. Each “touch” is a potential opportunity for derailment, or at the very least, a potentially large outlay of time and money.

In the graphic below, the innovator is an amputee who would like to ski once again. There are four touch points: 1) convey the idea to the designer, 2) conduct an initial fitting with an orthotic specialist, 3) manufacture the piece, and 4) ensure the prosthetic is properly designed and fitted. Each "touch" may be wholly developed without any knowledge of how all parts will fit together, and may result in time delays or additional cash outflow--both contributing factors to business failures.

Multi-Touch/Multi-Failure Points

The proposed approach (see graphic below) condenses the current process from a multi-stage path to one interface path, reducing potential derailments that can occur in a multi-stage process (e.g., time, money, poor fit, etc.). OSUIT’s faculty and students interact with the entrepreneur to understand the concept, how the product will be used, and then produce what is necessary by determining the best way to move the concept from the product development stage through the manufacturing process, completely in-house.

One Touch Manufacturing Process

Uniqueness of Idea (Updated 2/23/17)

The Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance, an organization dedicated to supporting and advancing manufacturers, noted that many manufacturers don't have access to the equipment OSUIT has in its manufacturing labs, or to the level of technical expertise (faculty) and human resources, e.g., college students. Please see the video, Manufacturing Lab, for a description of the program/equipment.

These project relationships enable OSUIT to incorporate supplemental curriculum for classes, contextualizing learning for the students, and providing them with additional technical skills for their resume.  Projects will be reviewed to determine modifications to the manufacturing curriculum as OSUIT must produce technicians whose competencies meet what industry demands. If manufacturing is heading in a direction that is not currently addressed by OSUIT's curriculum, i.e., five axis machines, CATIA software, etc., we can build this into the curriculum. And, it also provides a way for businesses who do not have representatives on our manufacturing advisory board, a voice for influencing the curriculum--what we teach, how, and certifications that students may earn on their way to the college degree.

Benefits to the Entrepreneur/Inventor:

* An economically feasible way to do limited runs and prototypes.

* Identify future workforce by working with college students.

* Relief in the form of additional time to secure capital and investors.

* Access to equipment they need, but don't have the wherewithal to purchase.

Benefits to the Student:

* Real work on real projects to build up in-demand technical skills.

* Earning money to pay for college expenses.

* Potential employment offers through businesses who utilize this service.

Benefits to the University:

* A revenue stream to reduce its dependency on tuition and fees.

* Discover trends and new directions for business that will affect what/how we teach.

* Networking that may result in future donations and board members.

Benefits to the State of Oklahoma:

* A new way to support start-ups and business expansions/innovations.

* Diversification of business to lessen dependency on energy.

* A workforce development program and way to address the skills gap shortage.

* Expansion of the tax base.

Pilot Project (Added 2/24/17)

The program will run at OSUIT, Pryor, OK. Our director and lead faculty are both engineers with many years of industry experience.  This type of work is currently carried out. One of the projects is illustrated below.

Design to Prototype to Manufacturing Project

After evaluating, using metrics described in a separate section, the program will be replicated at OSUIT, Okmulgee, OK.

Solicitation and Use of Feedback (Added 2/24/17)

We are in the process of developing a survey to distribute to OCAST clients. The NPDC Director has agreed to contact current clients and ask them to complete the surveys. We need to develop the questions that will help us collect the quantitative and qualitative data we need to make sure the program meets the needs of the people for whom it was designed.

We have, however, integrated feedback from administrators of all the partner organizations (OSUIT, OCAST, NPDC), and this led to the sections noted as (Added/Updated M/D/YY) in this document. OCAST acknowledged that there is a critical need for this service, and asked that we move quickly.  The discussion led to the following:

  • OCAST will provide a one-year investment of $30,000 to pay for a lead faculty.
  • OSUIT must provide the match.
  • OCAST would like to scale-up quickly with engineering and other programs.
  • NPDC will work with OSUIT on funding and project work opportunities.


Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

This idea is designed for college students, colleges, entrepreneurs, inventors, and the State of Oklahoma. College students earn experience and money for college; entrepreneurs gain access to produce inexpensive prototypes by paying a fee-for-service, AND identify potential workforce; colleges gain another revenue stream; and, Oklahoma improves its economic development and tax base. Projects provide supplemental education not currently in curriculum; OSUIT identifies trends to modify program.

This idea emerged from:

  • An individual

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

OpenIDEO would be valuable in providing networking opportunities, referrals to government and state agencies or private organizations that fund entrepreneurs and innovators. What has worked, what are factors that should be taken into consideration. How do other States help connect businesses with others who can help them develop prototypes, provide expertise, etc.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

The New Product Development Center can identify one of its clients that needs a part built. Students in OSUIT's manufacturing program can, under the leadership of manufacturing faculty, create the prototype for the business. OSUIT, along with the business representative, will then engage in a critical incident review. Questions: 1. What went well? 2. What were the problems, and how can they be addressed? 3. Did the current manufacturing curriculum provide the necessary knowledge?

Tell us about your work experience:

I've worked primarily for non-profit organizations, beginning with the Boy Scouts of America before transitioning into higher education. My job is to help students become financially independent through their college education. My passion is working with marginalized populations. My focus has been on helping companies develop their pipeline of technical talent by sponsoring students at OSUIT through paid internships and scholarships, as well as upfront employment agreements.

How would you describe this idea while in an elevator with someone? 2-3 sentences.

On Shark Tank, at least one entrepreneur in each episode has a product that needs to be manufactured, but does not have the capital to make it happen. Those entrepreneurs are trying to take their concept from design and prototyping to testing and, finally, production. Entrepreneurs can access all these resources—engineering and manufacturing experts, production personnel, the equipment and facilities, at a reasonable charge, in just one place, through OSU Institute of Technology’s project.

What is the specific problem your idea is trying to solve? 1 sentence.

Integrating real-world projects into the academic curriculum to provide students with paid, relevant work experience, while improving the success rate of start-ups and business expansions by providing a single interface path (one place) for vetted project ideas to move from the concept stage, through all phases of development, to the production-ready stage.

How is your idea different or unique from what is currently on the market?

The proposed approach condenses the current process from a multi-stage path to one interface path, reducing potential derailments that can occur in a multi-stage process (e.g., time, money, poor fit, etc.). OSUIT’s faculty and students interact with the entrepreneur to understand the concept, how the product will be used, and then produce what is necessary by determining the best way to move the concept from the product development stage through the manufacturing process, completely in-house.

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

Proposed Metrics: • Customer satisfaction surveys • # of referrals • # of repeat customers • # clients served • Net revenue generated • # students involved • Compare the academic performance, persistence, and graduation rates of students involved in projects to those who are not • Placement of students into full-time positions with clients • Compare success rate of clients to entrepreneurs who are not clients • Comparison of cost per piece at average industry prices to actual pro

How might your idea be transferable to a large number of people?

Our pilot project will start at OSUIT in Pryor, OK. We’ll scale up at the Okmulgee campus after evaluating in Pryor. Any organization that has the required assets: computer-based CAD, machining capabilities (both manual and CNC), quality metrology instrumentation, incubation facilities, and qualified, well-trained professionals, led by experienced mechanical and electrical technical staff can replicate it. What we’ll provide is our additional know-how from documenting the implementation process.

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

• Complete and distribute survey to NPDC clients. • Create policies and procedures for working with referrals, identifying required reporting, etc. • Create metrics for evaluating new hire and project performance, tracking referrals, etc. • Create a position description and advertise for a project leader to work with existing technical staff. • Orientation and training for new hire.
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Team (3)

Jawad's profile
Jawad Ali

Role added on team:

"Jawad, I'd like to add you as a team member. Your idea is very similar to what I've proposed, and I think I could benefit greatly from your experiences as you move forward with implementation."

Dathane's profile
Dathane Turner

Role added on team:

"I hope you'll allow me to add you to my team. I'm interested in keeping in touch on how your idea progresses."

Ina's profile
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Attachments (2)

Missing Link Project Process.pdf

The Missing Link Process provides entrepreneurs and innovators with a one-stop shop for producing prototypes and limited runs. From the idea, to the design, and manufacturing, there will be an assigned faculty member and student team. This reduces time delays and increased opportunity costs that may happen when there is a failure at any point to complete the prototype.

MISSING LINK PROJECT CHART FOR OCAST.docx

The State of Oklahoma, through OCAST, provides funding to help inventors and entrepreneurs with developing their inventions. The missing link, though, is the development of prototypes that will then be manufactured and taken to market, or applied at the entrepreneur's place of business. College students in manufacturing can help develop the prototype, gain valuable work experience, earn money for college, and learn company knowledge that will make that student more marketable upon graduation.

32 comments

Join the conversation:

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Photo of Jawad Ali
Team

Hi Team ...excited to be part of this project. What steps have y'all been working on Ina Agnew and how can I help? If you would like to coordinate further over phone/email let me know! I'm going to tag Kate Rushton as well because that always seems to help : p

Photo of Ina Agnew
Team

Hello Juwad:

Our Oklahoma team has completed the responses, developed the graphics, etc. For the pilot project, that will be handled at the Mid America Industrial Park location for OSU Institute of Technology.

What we are missing, though, is a survey for the data collection portion.  We would like to know if businesses would even take advantage of this kind of service.  What kinds of questions should be on a survey to distribute to entrepreneurs, economic development center staff, etc.? For example, "how likely are you to use a university service and college students to develop your prototype?" "When you started your business, what kind of support do you wish you had, but did not?"

Does this make sense? We need to gather data that will help us build our processes.  The New Product Development Center, which works with entrepreneurs, has agreed to distribute this survey to all of its clients.

Photo of Jawad Ali
Team

That makes a lot of sense Ina. Anecdotally, I co-sponsored projects with med-tech companies that needed not just help with prototyping but connections to experts in the field as well as hospital systems. I also worked with a company that used an incubator type model at UT Austin to have campus office space as well as access to animal labs for testing. Is there a way for me to add to this phase? i.e. distribute the survey etc.

Thanks!

Jawad

Photo of Ina Agnew
Team

For the companies that needed help with prototyping, how did they access the service? Did you check out the graphics we added? Is it a similar process to what you used?

Did you have policies and procedures developed? How did you measure the effectiveness, satisfaction, etc? With this project, we'd like to evaluate how effective they will be. You'll see that we've identified metrics. What do you think of them?

Photo of Ina Agnew
Team

Hello, Jawad:

I just wanted to check back and see if you've given any further thought to a survey we can distribute to businesses who are seeking funding for an invention or enhancement. We need to gather data that will help us determine if the companies will utilize this service, how they might like to be contacted, if they think it is worthwhile, etc.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Ina and team,

There are a few hours left in the refinement phase if you have any questions feel free to reach out to me.

Photo of Ina Agnew
Team

Hi Kate:

We made a commitment to complete this by Sunday morning, so we are good to go! Thank you for this incredible opportunity to share these ideas. Have been reading the other posts/ideas, and am in awe of the brilliant ideas that have been proposed.

Photo of Yash
Team

Hi Ina,

I am a big fan of your idea, especially considering that it fits in so perfectly with OSU Institute of Technology's goal of being an institution that prepares its students for the "real world". I do believe that Entrepreneurship is a core skill that is becoming increasingly important in the new economy and this program could offer much to the university within that realm. Currently, the program is only looking at OSUIT as an resource for talented students and world class facilities. I was wondering if you had considered partnering with OSUIT to set up an entrepreneurship incubator that would house these start ups that are receiving support from OSUIT. An on-campus incubator could be highly beneficial to OSUIT in promoting entrepreneurship within its student body. It could hold regular talks, workshops and networking events to foster a vibrant on-campus entrepreneurship community. One example where this has been successful is the Leslie eLab at NYU which is a shared entrepreneurship space at NYU (http://entrepreneur.nyu.edu/resource/leslie-elab/). You may want to consider exploring this model as a more integrated approach to achieve your goals. I wish you all the best!

Best,
Yash

Photo of Ina Agnew
Team

Hello Yash! Thank you for providing the information on the Leslie eLab. We have something similar at the Stillwater campus (Research Institution) for the OSU System. I really love the concept, and believe very strongly that OSUIT should create something similar. I hope, that through our partnership with OCAST and NPDC, we will be able to house such an innovative hands-on lab. It certainly supports our pedagogy.

Our students are very skilled technicians. I'd like to see them become successful entrepreneurs, and your program suggestions, i.e., workshops, talks, etc., are significant ways to provide that exposure. For our next project iteration, I think we need to consider including these suggestions. Even without the lab, we should incorporate these activities into our planning.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Ina,

There is just a week left of refinement. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Ina and team,

Welcome to the refinement phase, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me by using @ and typing my name.

Take care,

Kate

Photo of Ina Agnew
Team

Kate Rushton I'm having difficulty with the refinement phase. I accessed the refinement questions two weeks ago to share with my team, and now I cannot. There is no "edit" above the title per the refinement tool kit instructions. I made sure that I was logged in, but to no avail! Help! I cannot figure out what I am doing wrong.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Ina,
Sorry to hear this. I am going to send an email to the IT department to find out what the issue is. As soon as I hear back from them, I will post an update. In the meantime, if you want me to upload anything for you via the backend of the site, send me an email to krushton@ideo.com.

Photo of Dathane Turner
Team

Your phrase "Faculty and students of OSUIT will meet with the entrepreneurs/inventors to discuss needs and will engage in real, hands-on projects to produce the prototypes and limited runs." is the central innovation as I see it. My next question is how will you attract these entrepreneurs and innovators? Does the educational platform need to be in a bricks and mortars school or can you also do it online?

Also, for a budding entrepreneur such as myself who wants to create an online educational social business roleplaying vehicle possibly incorporating roleplaying platforms such as "https://roll20.net/" or "https://discordapp.com/" could your program assist someone like me?

Photo of Ina Agnew
Team

Hello Dathane, and thank you for the questions! Your first one is actually one we have been addressing in our refinement phase. There are two prescreening phases. You'll see this on our chart. First, Entrepreneurs/inventors (E/I) must be approved through the Inventors Assistance Service. This group checks to see if there are any patents, and includes a $170 application fee. If approved, the E/Is are then sent to the New Product Development Center (NPDC). The NPDC has engineers on its staff who check the theory to see if the concept will work, and can also help with design. If approved, the NPDC will put the E/Is in touch with either the faculty/staff in the manufacturing program to help with the prototype or limited run OR with the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance to identify the best manufacturer to handle what is needed. This is actually how the current process works at The Oklahoma University in Stillwater.

Could we do the educational platform online? Currently, the engineering classes are offered face-to-face or via hybrid (mostly face-to-face with a few online meetings/projects). At some point, more engineering classes will be offered totally online.

I was not familiar with Roll20 and Discord, but checked out those websites. I think the concept is an interesting one that has potential merit. I'm going to check with our faculty to see what they think. It's quite possible that some universities may already be doing something similar. Ours is not.

Photo of Ina Agnew
Team

@katerushton  Kate, this advice definitely helps.  We have a meeting scheduled for February 7th with several senior administrators and a couple of industry partner representatives.  Hope to start posting updates and modifications shortly thereafter. @inaagnew

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

That is good to hear. Keep us posted with how things go.

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Welcome to the Refinement phase Ina! We've added new Refinement questions to your original submission that we'd love for you to answer. Please check out the Refinement Phase Toolkit for instructions on how to answer the new questions and other recommendations we encourage all idea teams to consider in the upcoming weeks.

Refinement Phase Toolkit: http://ideo.pn/2du9sf7

Lastly, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 02/01" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

Photo of Ina Agnew
Team

@katerushton, I would definitely like to discuss.  This is so exciting.  What suggestions/plan of action have you seen to be the most successful in the refinement phase?

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Ida,

It is nice to hear from you.

You should have received a refinement toolkit, which covers the refinement phase and the steps. There is also a link to the kit at the top of the page (Refinement Toolkit in blu

It is great to see ideas that have highlighted the pain point and how this solution fits it helps highlight that the idea is a ‘must have’ rather than a ‘nice to have’ especially compared to competitors.

I would recommend keeping the main post focused and succinct so someone with no time can read for gist and using the attachments section for additional information e.g. any research that backs up that this idea is meeting a real pain point and what the competitors are.

Ideas which have clear personas, simple user journeys, and prototyping the stage in the user journey with the biggest question and most uncertainty tend to do well.

Below a few examples of finalist ideas from a previous challenge on food waste. Please look at them with the perspective of ‘this is what the ideas looked like at the end of the challenge’:

https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/top-ideas/cobuy-group-buying-software-that-helps-people-buy-good-food-at-good-prices-together - really highlights the problem and opportunity, has a nice user journey and plan for the future

https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/top-ideas/rise-recycling-food - I really like the way they approached the user journey and prototyping. This idea really did not look like this at the start of the refinement phase for that challenge. It became a lot more focused as the challenge progressed.

If I will see if I can find a finalist idea from another challenge that is analogous to your idea.

I hope that helps, if you have any questions please post.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Ina!

Thank you for sharing the great work that OCAST is doing.

I want to be 100% sure I understand what the next step for OCAST is. Am I right in thinking that the next step is to enable students to conduct prototype testing of their ideas or the ideas of SMEs?

What is the future direction for OCAST? What additional projects would OCAST like to do?

Photo of Ina Agnew
Team

Yes, Kate, you are correct. The New Product Development Center (NPDC) which operates under the auspices of OCAST, will evaluate the work and then refer the business to my university, if appropriate. Our faculty will meet with the entrepreneur to discuss the project, and identify students to work on the project to design the prototype and manufacture it.

At that point, it is tested. If all works as it should, the entrepreneur works with the NPDC to either send the part to the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance to identify the best business to manufacture the parts, or it goes back to my university for the students to do limited runs of the parts.

Did this answer your question? Right now, this is just a discussion we are having with OCAST. Cornell Cross of OCAST laid out the idea, so I cannot take credit for it.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

No, this is perfect. I just want to know that I have the 'right end of the stick'.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Yes, this is the answer to my question.

I am interested in Huw morgan opinion (if he has time). Huw attends a maker space at his University. Huw, would you like to use your time in the maker space to design and manufacture prototypes for entrepreneurs? Would this need to be a paid activity?

I am also wondering if the ideator behind Future School might be able to help with constructive feedback (he is behind several Maker Space projects with some excellent educational programs in Taiwan) - https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/future-of-highered/ideas/future-school

Photo of Ina Agnew
Team

Hello, Kate.  Have you heard back from Huw?  I'm interested in his responses.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Not yet. However, Andrea Zelenak might be able to give some feedback as an experienced maker. I would also recommend reaching out to the poster of Future School (link above) by writing something on the wall of his post, and the ideator behind Higher Education as A Human Centered Service Built Around Industry Partnerships 

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

It might be also worth connecting with the poster of Maker's Asylum 

Photo of Naman Mandhan
Team

Hi Ina!

This is very impressive! I think a dynamic approach to education that is driven by the needs of industry can reap amazing benefits for students to connect them with the necessary resources and skills needed to excel in the workplace.

I'm interested to know how the students and projects are matched to each other. Does one side drive the pairing of a student to an industry project? An idea could be to write an algorithm that does it for you. Many algorithms in economic theory exist that can take preferences from two different sides to develop an optimal matching that could benefit the society and the individuals.

What are your thoughts on this? Is this something that the current system could benefit from?

Photo of Ina Agnew
Team

Naman, the algorithm is an interesting concept.  Right now, we have several ways to pair students and projects.  In Visual Communications, for example, businesses come in to share what they need, and the students in the Capstone Class vote on projects of interest. The business with the most votes will have the entire class work on the project. Generally, it is developing logos or collateral such as brochures, business cards, envelopes, etc.

In information technologies, businesses present their problem to the Capstone Class, and students select which program they would like to work on. The faculty then identify the skills required to complete the project, and determine if the students have that ability.  If so, an internship agreement is signed between the student and business.

I believe for this project, it will be the same.

Photo of Dathane Turner
Team

I, too, am impressed. The process of connecting entrepreneurs with students with field experts focusing on their startup idea is the one "beta phase" piece that needs to be developed from my Holacracy-Powered Social Business Idea. You and I have common passionate towards reaching out to marginalized populations and my idea of creating circle teams which organized into an organic organization matches nicely with your idea matching entrepreneurs, students and have them work together to build the future business vision. It would be interested hearing what you think of my idea and look at future collaborative possibilities.

Photo of Jawad Ali
Team

Hi Ina,

Great idea...I'm very impressed at how the different components are linked together in a way that makes sense for each party. We worked on a course design that linked clinicians, medtech startups, and engineering students...MedTech Innovation Course . I'd be interested to get your thoughts! Also, in what capacity do the faculty and the students work with the entrepreneur/inventor, i.e. is it part of a course or as paid consultants? This kind of collaboration between small businesses and university students has a lot of potential.

Thanks!

Photo of Ina Agnew
Team

Hello Juwad:

Thank you for letting me know about your course. I can't wait to read about it and share what I think. to answer your questions, we are collaborating with the OCAST and our School of Engineering--specifically the manufacturing program. We are in the discussion stage right now, but Cornell Cross of OCAST is envisioning that the relationship will be that of fee-for-service similar to consulting. The business person would meet with faculty and students to discuss the project. Faculty would take the lead and work with selected students to design and create the part.

We believe that this could become an operation on campus where students could complete their required manufacturing internship on campus, and earn money to apply toward their education.

Did this answer your questions?

OSUIT works very closely with over 700 businesses and industries. When we developed our pipeline integrity program, for example, a cadre of energy companies came to us and outlined their needs. They agreed to provide equipment, start-up funding, serve on the pipeline integrity advisory board, and participated in the development of a curriculum (DACUM) process to ensure that the program would produce technicians who, at a minimum, met the skills and competencies in demand by industry. The advisory boards meet at least twice a year, and advise us on trends, changes in technology, etc. that need to be incorporated into the curriculum. They also help train our faculty on the new processes.