Science workshop pulls focus outside of lab
UH is leading the way in Texas by holding the annual National Science Foundation Innovation Corps workshop this Thursday and Friday, presented by the College of Natural Science and Mathematics, Cullen College of Engineering and Division of Research.
The I-Corps workshop is a set of activities and programs that prepare scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory by working on projects that accelerate research that the NSF has been promoting, said Lisa Robertson, executive director of external relations at the Cullen College of Engineering.
“The NSF program is a few years old, and funding is available to faculty who currently are, or have received, funding in the last five years in the engineering, math or science departments,” Robertson said.
I-Corps is a public-private partnership program that enables students to receive guidance from entrepreneurs in a particular set of curriculum. In order to apply, one has to be eligible and must construct a team.
“Teams consist of three people and include a student, an academic researcher and a business mentor, which is someone from the private sector who has experience with start-ups,” Robertson said. “Mentors can be very broad, but they must understand the process of commercialization.”
The first day of the workshop is to explain to students and faculty what I-Corps is and will consist of presentations by Dr. Rathindra DasGupta, NSF I-Corps program director, and Keith McGreggor, director of Georgia Tech Venture Lab.
T.J. Wainerdi is a recent graduate of the I-Corps program, and is one of three panel members who will be speaking about his experience.
“I went through a six-week training in the first quarter of this year,” Wainerdi said. “My entire career was developing and commercializing technologies and this program taught me that an old dog can learn new tricks.”
McGreggor is an I-Corps node, or regional chair, who will deliver a training program based on the curriculum used to support I-Corps teams. Their program has three nodes, who are from Stanford, Georgia Tech and University of Michigan.
The second day of the workshop is dedicated to assembling mentors and will feature morning sessions for business and community leaders, entrepreneurs and investors.
“This is a really great opportunity for faculty to find out about this very successful program,” Robertson said. “There is a lot of pressure on faculty, and we want to support them by helping them learn from people who are doing this successfully.”