Eights students in grey Embry-Riddle polos pose with instructors in business wear next to a sign on an easel that reads E SHIP Tech Talk Reception. Eights students in grey Embry-Riddle polos pose with instructors in business wear next to a sign on an easel that reads E SHIP Tech Talk Reception.
Dr. Ramy A. Rahimi (center) and CIE student facilitators at the recent ESHIP Tech Talk, April 10, 2023. (Photo: Sergio Carli)

From Space to Startups
Inspiring Entrepreneurship with NASA Innovations

Story by Alison Whitney
Alison Whitney

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Embry‑Riddle’s entrepreneurship courses and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship provide students with tools and support to make innovative ideas reality.

NASA T2U Program at Embry-Riddle

Using NASA’s Technology Transfer University (T2U) program, Dr. Ramy A. Rahimi, assistant professor of Entrepreneurship, is able to use NASA-developed technology in Embry-Riddle courses. He is currently using it in two undergraduate courses, Entrepreneurship I and II, and an MBA course, Venture Creation.

“Working with technology from NASA makes it easy for us because everything is post-validated intellectual property,” Rahimi said in this article from NASA. This program essentially allows students access to proven patents for the purpose of creating businesses applying the technology in a different way.

What is the purpose of using NASA technology in the classroom?

In traditional entrepreneurship, the problem is identified first, then a solution is built after. Reverse entrepreneurship, on the other hand, involves starting from the solution and working backward.

Dr. Rahimi explains how the reverse entrepreneurship method works: “Our approach involves leveraging our business model framework and access to diverse patents to identify terrestrial challenges that can be addressed using these technologies. We then strive to develop a sustainable business model that revolves around solving those problems.”

In these courses, students are encouraged to think like entrepreneurs and repurpose the NASA-developed technology while conceptualizing startup venture ideas. This is a team effort, and teams are comprised of multiple disciplines because these courses are open to students from all majors.

What are some of the startups students have created?

Entrepreneurship students have given these repurposed NASA technologies functions ranging from fuel innovation to integrity tracking to disability aids.

These startups include converting carbon dioxide gas into propane, live concussion-detecting helmets for athletes, fracture detection on old bridges and enhanced lenses that convert the visible world into audio for people with visual impairments.

What does the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship do for students?

Banners advertising the 2022 TREP Expo at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, sponsored by the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. (Photo: Bernard Wilchusky)
Banners for the 2022 TREP Expo, in which Embry-Riddle students display their venture concepts for a panel of judges. (Photo: Bernard Wilchusky)

Within the David B. O’Maley College of Business is the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE), led by Dr. Rahimi. Aspiring entrepreneurs receive guidance from the CIE and benefit from valuable services that aid in the advancement of their ideas and propel them towards success.

The center is a resource for the entire university, working with any student, faculty or alumni who has an innovative idea they want to develop and lending the help of students, faculty and industry experts.

“We have 14 facilitators— facilitators are junior or senior students who have completed my entrepreneurship classes, demonstrated an interest in entrepreneurship, and received training through CIE’s onboarding program,” Rahimi explained. In addition, our alumni network and the members of the CIE Board of Advisors are also available to provide expert assistance.

The CIE’s programming encompasses various programs and events that include:

  • TREP Expo in the fall, open to the Embry-Riddle community
  • Launch Your Venture in the spring, open to any Florida college students
  • ESHIP Tech Talk in the spring, featuring Embry-Riddle student-led startups
  • Several accelerator programs, including four-week intensive Test Flight Bootcamps

What makes Embry-Riddle’s entrepreneurship programming unique?

While other colleges may have similar programs and centers, Embry-Riddle’s advantage comes from being a STEM university with university-scale resources.

“Embry-Riddle is equipped with multiple labs and possesses top-notch expertise, enabling us to perform all tasks in-house. We have the capability to build any prototype we desire without relying on external resources,” said Dr. Rahimi.

Rahimi’s entrepreneurship classes also offer diversity of disciplines amongst the students; “Our classes are designed to accommodate students from various majors, allowing for a diverse range of students in a single class,” from aviation to business to engineering. Students of different disciplines work together with their respective knowledge of their areas of study.

Innovation Across the Country

Both our Prescott and Daytona Beach Campuses are ranked highly in innovation by U.S. News & World Report, as No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.

Do you have an entrepreneurial mindset? Want to learn more about the opportunities for innovation at Embry-Riddle? Explore our business degrees.

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