In addition to being the world’s leading space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) owns about 1,600 technological patents. Now, thanks to a new program, College of Charleston students have access to every single one of them.
CofC recently signed an agreement with NASA to become the newest member of the NASA Technology Transfer University (T2U) program. The program connects universities with NASA-developed technology to give students the opportunity to work with federal government research and technology. Student entrepreneurs build case studies with NASA’s patent portfolio while learning about commercialization and licensing opportunities.
Kelly Shaver, professor of entrepreneurial studies, is teaching a technology commercialization course that is part of the program.
Several years ago, Shaver taught a course on biomedical commercialization with a neuroscientist from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). Attracting both CofC undergraduate business students and doctoral-to-postdoctoral MUSC research students, the class produced feasibility studies for commercial opportunities arising out of research being conducted in MUSC laboratories. Shaver says when the College joined T2U last year, he realized this was a great opportunity to offer a technology commercialization course.
“Like the biomedical commercialization course, this T2U course gives students the opportunity to work on a project thoroughly grounded on existing and patented technologies,” says Shaver. “We hope the experience will serve them well in their professional lives after graduation.”
During a recent class presentation, students proposed using NASA patents to construct superelastic tires, a self-cleaning germicidal door handle and a treatment system for contaminated water. Students will now spend the rest of the semester investigating their chosen technologies and whether those could become viable commercial products.
CofC officials are hoping that the success of the T2U program will complement and create synergies with other NASA-related collaborations on campus.
The College of Charleston is the only university in South Carolina to be associated with this national program.
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