CCEW Previews Fall 2012 Projects

By Paighten Harkins, Oklahoma Daily. Read the original article.

Students at OU’s Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth are working on five projects this semester with real world implications, getting them out of the classroom and into the business world.

The Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth, or CCEW, puts together interns, private-sector mentors and OU researchers to help push different technologies toward the marketplace.

This semester, the center has 12 first-year interns working on three different core projects. Also, the group currently is working with two different alumni groups on their respective projects, said CCEW Fellow Robert Free.

The three core projects are each part of the three major divisions of the center; Software Business Accelerator, Social Entrepreneurship and Technology Commercialization.

The Software Business Accelerator project the interns are working on this semester is an iPad application designed to work with a helmet sensor that can detect concussive blow built by the company ICEdot. The application would keep track of what the sensor says, Free said.

The Social Entrepreneurship project is focusing on an International Eye Institute. That group will be working with a public hospital in China and an eye institute to try and build a joint eye clinic in China, Free said.

The last branch of the center, Technology Commercialization, is working on advancing and marketing an X-Band radar that was developed by the National Weather Center and the Enterprise Electronics Corporation, Free said.

Since the center started in 2006 the students have raised approximately $6.5 million for the various projects, mostly through grants and competitions, Free said.

The student interns run these projects almost completely, Free said. The mentors guide them in their decision-making, but the interns make the final call.

“The interns are the core drivers of every single project,” Free said. “They do the work to get it done. It’s their project.”

Applications are due Nov. 1 for students interested in becoming an intern at the center during the spring semester. Typically, 12 interns are accepted per semester, Free said.

Interns can receive upper-division credit for their time at the center from the colleges of engineering, business, arts and sciences and honors, according to the center’s website.

Evan Fry, biochemistry and economics junior, joined the center his sophomore year because he wanted to be a part of something with implications outside of the university, he said.

“I enjoyed working on teams with a goal in mind, but I found that some of the [groups on campus] lacked larger significance,” Fry said. “It was cool to do on campus but it didn’t ultimately make a big difference in the community.”

Until a week before classes started that semester, Fry didn’t know what project he’d be working on. He ended up working with a piece of technology created by an OU researcher who would help babies with developmental issues crawl.

Fry and his group worked to see if there was a market for this product and met with licensing partners who ultimately would manufacture and sell the technology.

Being a part of the center showed Fry that he had options in his career. Instead of taking a narrow path to law school or taking an entry-level job in a Fortune 500 company, he saw that he could join a start-up company or work with international businesses, he said.

For Jerod Coker, a former team leader at the center, the experience showed him a side of business he had not seen before.

“I would have never thought that business could actually be an intellectual endeavor,” Coker said. “ I had always pictured it as bean counters in suits droning on about PowerPoints and stock prices. In reality it is a very creative, dynamic and fun environment.”



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