Read summaries of our first Inventors Sprints below from program participants. You can also check out a report in The Daily Texan about Spring 2019 Sprints!
The day came and went like a 40 yard dash! After months of planning for curriculum and developing partnerships throughout UT and Austin, The Inventors Program launched its first interactive experience for students in fall 2018. Dozens of students gathered on a Saturday morning at 9 AM eager to participate in a one-day Inventors Sprint to work on a real-world problem developed by professional project sponsors in academia, industry, and the non-profit sectors.
Students entered the classrooms with little insight into what they would be working on, besides that they would be collaborating with classmates that they have not met before to troubleshoot to prototype solutions to problems statements related to the contaminant detection in the food industry, collecting samples in sewage drains, and building an interactive exhibit for a children’s science museum. In this environment, the students were their own teachers as their worked together to address these real world problems.
Each individual Inventors Sprint was very distinct from the others. Students working on problems from the food industry created market research hypotheses that they would either validate or invalidate by talking with users and customers of their proposed solutions, while people working on the sewage drain problem statement worked more extensively on building a theoretical prototype that matched the spec requirements from their Project Sponsor. And last but not least, students working on the science exhibit sketched out models that they believed would engaged 9- and 10-year-olds within the first five seconds of engagement.
Through all of the road bumps and difficulties, students emerged with exposure into different aspects that industry and public professionals engage with when solving challenges.
We got to see how our Longhorns would operate while giving service to our country. No – no students were deployed during this Inventors Sprint. But it was the first event between the joint collaboration of the Inventors Program, Hacking for Defense, and the Army Futures Command. This is an exciting moment for the 40 Acres, as students get to benefit from the support from the new Command Center being created in Austin, which has made technological modernization and interaction with the local University among its top priorities.
In partnership with Hacking for Defense, an organization that utilizes innovation methodologies from Stanford’s entrepreneurial icon Steve Blank, the Inventors Program took the first step in having students work on real problems stemming from military operations. Military problem statements ranged from data hierarchies, to needing to see through walls, to a vehicle to survive cold and tough terrain and many more.
But the military presence was not the only excitement in the air that Saturday. Students interested in learning how to commercialize new wearable devices formed teams to conduct market research about what would value in their potential products. One team of students was able to talk to current UT football players about a concussion detection product, while another team learned from stressed students at UT that they would value and pay for a product that detected stress.
These Inventors Sprints wrapped up a successful fall for the Inventors Program. Students that participated will receive priority enrollment in one of two Practicum Courses taught in the Spring by Dr. Lisa McDonald and Dr. Bryan Davies, two industry professionals who have experience in the field of technology commercialization.