Teaching Engineering Students How to Commercialize Their Research

Cornell’s engineering and business students collaborate to commercialize research as part of graduate fellow program.

(Image courtesy of Cornell University.)

(Image courtesy of Cornell University.)

Having a great idea or designing an innovative product is one thing, but developing a business plan to commercialize the results of research is another story. So how can engineering students, who may have never taken a business class, learn how to take their product from concept to sale?

Programs such as Cornell University’s Commercialization Fellows program show engineering graduate students the inside process of turning a research idea into a business plan, through collaborative projects between engineering and business students.

Graduate engineering students enrolled in the program work with a technology or product of their research, which is personally meaningful. Learning the ins-and-outs of commercialization, entrepreneurship and developing a business plan for their product is embedded in the educational experience. This means students in the program can create their business idea as part of their education, rather than spending their own time and money attempting to developing one on their own. 

From intellectual property management to supply chains, participating students will develop the tools, methods and skills necessary to bring a technology to market. The fellowship experience will enable deep experiential learning in the commercial side of innovation and one-on-one mentoring assures a personalized educational experience.

The program is currently open for application for its next group of graduate students who want to spend a semester and summer exploring how to commercialize their product. The application deadline is April 10, 2017.

Ph.D. students enrolled in any of Cornell Engineering’s departments can apply to the program. Applicants must have a product or technology that has indications of commercial potential, have passed the A exam and have obtained permission and support from their advisor.

While the program is limited to students at Cornell, the model may be a good one for other universities and engineering schools to pursue, to support the innovation and development of their students’ research.

For more information, visit the Cornell University Engineering website.