Vanderbilt technology brings real world experience to VU students

The primary role of CTTC is to transfer innovative products and technology out of the university. We want the public to benefit from the brilliant work happening inside Vanderbilt's labs and research centers.

Recently, we came upon a story that was quite different from the successes we normally share. A Vanderbilt technology that was licensed to startup company Universal Robotics in 2008 had returned to its place of origin and was helping students understand the complexities of engineering management and technology marketing.

“We were working with the VP of marketing,” said one of the students, Alana Mann. “It’s very rare that you have that opportunity, a really great experience."

Mann, and her project teammate Marquicia Pierce, were part of Engineering Professor John Bers' Technology Marketing course, the first in a three-part engineering management track. The goal of the series is to expose engineering students to real-world, industry problems and strategies for solving those problems.

"You get real time feedback, real experiences, a real company, with real problems that you get to solve," said Pierce. 

Mann and Pierce worked alongside Universal Robotic's executive team in the analysis of market trends and identify expansion strategies for the company's core product, Neocortex (a form of artificial intelligence that uses sensor information to learn about its environment).

"We always make this a two-way street," said Bers. "The company is going to provide the students a great learning experience. The students are going to deliver something of value to the company."

Read more about the program in the March issue of our newsletter, Driving Innovation Forward.