Dartmouth's Engineering Entrepreneurship Program (DEEP)
Dartmouth's Engineering Entrepreneurship Program (DEEP) prepares students at all levels—from introductory classes to the Ph.D.—for technology leadership. The program consists of opportunities throughout the curriculum for students to acquire design, business, and leadership skills and experience the process of turning new ideas into marketable technologies.
Thayer School's integrated single department facilitates cross-disciplinary thinking, and students have direct access to entrepreneurial mentors including professors who hold numerous patents and have founded their own startup companies. In addition, DEEP utilizes collaborations with Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Vermont Law School, and industry partners as well as numerous Dartmouth entrepreneurial resources.
DEEP consists of the following components:
Introduction to Engineering (Engineering Sciences 21)
In their first engineering class—Introduction to Engineering (ENGS 21)—undergraduates learn to define problems in terms of societal needs and environmental impact, and are encouraged to develop solutions with an eye to the marketplace.
Working in small teams, students will:
- brainstorm a technology innovation
- conduct market research and patent searches
- build and test a prototype
- develop a business plan
- deliver a board presentation
A review board of "potential investors" (corporate engineers who ask difficult questions) critiques the project and recommends next steps for taking the idea to market. In addition to laying the foundation for entrepreneurial thinking, ENGS 21 helps students see how courses in systems analysis such as modeling, solid mechanics, and thermodynamics will enable them to solve problems more efficiently.
Engineering Design Methodology and Project Initiation/Completion (Engineering Sciences 89/90)
Most A.B. students combine their engineering major with an additional 1 - 3 terms of coursework to earn the B.E. degree. B.E. candidates complete a two-term design course (ENGS 89/90) that undertakes real-life problem-solving projects for industry sponsors. Working in teams of two or three, and mentored by a faculty member and technical advisers from the sponsor, students devote between 800 to 1,200 hours to developing solutions to their sponsors' needs. At the end of the course sequence, each team makes a formal oral presentation to an industry review board and delivers a written project report to the sponsor.
Master of Engineering Management (M.E.M.) Program
Coursework includes financial and managerial accounting, corporate finance, marketing, and operations management. Entrepreneurial-centered courses include Law, Technology and Entrepreneurship (Engineering Management 188), taught by Vermont Law School faculty, and Tuck School's Advanced Entrepreneurship.
Project-centered courses include: Technology Assessment (Engineering Management 178) in which student teams analyze a prevalent or emerging technology and recommend actions for achieving the benefits most rapidly; and M.E.M. Project (Engineering 390) where each student undertakes a term-long project, defining a practical need and proposing a detailed means to satisfy it.
The Cook Engineering Design Center (CEDC) streamlines the process for matching students with industry partners.
Ph.D. Innovation Program
The Ph.D. Innovation Program combines a doctoral-level engineering curriculum with coursework in new venture creation. The first of its kind in the nation, this program exemplifies the school's commitment to producing technology leaders with the skills to bring life-changing inventions into the marketplace.
Admission to the program is highly selective and applicants are required to present their innovation idea to a panel of faculty—in much the same way that an entrepreneur presents an idea to potential investors.
Once enrolled, students take Introduction to Innovation (Engineering 321) where they serve as faculty assistants in the undergraduate Introduction to Engineering course (see above). During this course, students use the same techniques and methods they help teach to advance their own project.
Each Innovation Program candidate also recruits a team of fellow engineering and business students to complete the project, develops a full business plan, and presents the finished project to a panel of faculty and professional experts including successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
For the final three years of their Ph.D. Innovation Program studies, students are eligible for funding support independent of faculty research grants in order to pursue their own creative ideas.
Two program participants have already launched companies: SustainX, Inc. is developing technology for utility-scale energy storage, and Sproxil, Inc. (formerly mPedigree) is a drug authentication company:
Integrated throughout the curriculum, DEEP ensures that all Thayer School students learn how to transform vaguely defined goals into problems with clear specifications. This skill combined with close ties with industry, access to engineering leaders, and encouragement for student entrepreneurship is the DEEP recipe for innovation and technology leadership.