The Cockrell School of Engineering has launched a newly renovated space where students will take their ideas from invention to reality. In its first few weeks, the Longhorn Maker Studio has become a magnet for engineering students interested in making everything from drones and robots to 3-D printed objects and electronic sensors.
Located on the ground level of the Engineering Teaching Center, the Longhorn Maker Studio is outfitted with 3-D printers and scanners, laser cutters, sewing machines, machines for fabricating electronic circuit boards and many other tools. The 1,700-square-foot studio is the latest effort by the Cockrell School and Dean Sharon L. Wood to provide more opportunities for hands-on learning and student projects.
This fall, Engineer Your World, an innovative high school engineering curriculum created at the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, announced it will reach 3,000 students in 77 schools across the country — up from 750 students in 23 schools in 2012 — marking a significant expansion in its effort to provide accessible, high-quality engineering education and better prepare U.S. students in STEM fields.
The Innovation Center aims to maximize the impact of the university’s research and invention through the effective use of startups as vehicles of innovation. The center is strategically positioned to help UT Austin and Austin’s tech community serve as an engine of economic, entrepreneurial and technological success.
The Innovation Center was created several years ago with the goal of growing and supporting entrepreneurship and innovation among students and faculty in the Cockrell School. Working with UT Austin and local organizations and incubators, the center fosters startups created by faculty and students by bringing to the table the right partners, suppliers, investors, employees and customers, while serving as advisers and mentors throughout. The center collaborates with groups across campus, across the UT System and across the state of Texas, such as chambers of commerce, accelerators and funding sources, including the Horizon Fund, the Central Texas Angel Network, the Rice Alliance and other venture capital and angel networks.
Innovation Center leadership continuously explores programs and initiatives to further develop business and engineering leaders and spur an increasing level of collaboration and innovation across the UT Austin campus. It will be housed in the Cockrell School’s Engineering Education and Research Center, a 430,000-square-foot teaching and research facility expected to open in 2017.
Creating an Entrepreneurial Ecology
The Innovation Center fosters growth and success by following the Doriot Ecology. Named after Georges Doriot, founder of the first publicly owned venture capital firm, American Research and Development Corporation, the Doriot Ecology consists of seven major groups that team up in various combinations to propel startups into world markets:
- funding agencies
- research professors
- graduating students
- scaling entrepreneurs
- venture capitalists
- strategic partners
- early adopters
Undergraduate Longhorn Startup Program
The center’s signature program is the Longhorn Startup Program, which Professor of Innovation Bob Metcalfe created when he joined the Cockrell School faculty in 2011. Cockrell School entrepreneur-in-residence Ben Dyer and Department of Computer Science specialist Joshua Baer join Metcalfe in teaching the Longhorn Startup Program. Geared toward undergraduates in engineering, natural sciences, computer science and business, the Longhorn Startup Program provides training and mentorship to student-led startups and to students interested in entrepreneurship.
Professor stARTup Studio
In addition to mentoring students, the program offers two studio courses for faculty and local entrepreneurs. The stARTup Studio is led by Metcalfe and provides UT Austin professors guidance in the "art" of technology commercialization. Professors are invited to present their inventions at informal gatherings that bring regional business experts and entrepreneurs together to hear results of faculty research with the goal of advancing startup activity. The Austin Chamber of Commerce hosts many of these events.
The Ideas Studio was created at the request of major corporations that have identified problems they believe can best be solved by entrepreneurial ventures as opposed to traditional sponsored research. Led by Ben Dyer, this Studio will match these problems with undergraduate students and teams who want to learn entrepreneurship but haven’t identified a mission. The goals are to increase participation in the Longhorn Startup Lab, to focus students on significant problems for which there are already receptive customers, and to provide a valuable service to corporate partners of UT Austin. This will be accomplished by a year-round series of sessions matching students of all disciplines with companies bringing potential opportunities.
Fueling the Entrepreneurial Environment
With a thriving culture of entrepreneurialism, major events like SXSW Interactive and startup accelerators such as Capital Factory, Austin is uniquely poised to continue to fuel the startup pipeline. Established international technology leaders such as Google, Applied Materials, Intel, IBM, Apple and Rackspace have recognized this nurturing environment and established significant operations in the city.
Additionally, the state of Texas has a history of providing the resources that help encourage and grow businesses from the ground up, resulting in several successful entrepreneurial ventures that started at UT Austin and continue to thrive in Texas and beyond, such as Dell, National Instruments, Bazaarvoice and Mass Relevance.
December 6, 9:00 AM - 3:30 PM
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The Future of Engineering at UT Austin
The transformative Engineering Education and Research Center will open in 2017.