E 102 Entrepreneurial Development
For this class I employed synthesis - learning by building. Here the object is constructed and learning derives from building the intellectual components and then figuring out how to fit them together coherently. So, to learn about how a technically-driven business works, students construct an enterprise by creating the constituents (Engineering, Marketing, Finance, Operations, etc) and then combining them. A business plan which describes how the “object” functions (and why it should exist) is written.

In the weeks prior to the class, I solicited ideas from Caltech Professors. In the first week of classes, the students then agree on an idea according to their own interests and predilections. The concept is - here is a cool technology - so what! Teams are then formed and launched.
Ideas - usually multiple ideas - have come from the following Caltech professors:

  • Bob Grubbs - Phereromes
  • Sosina Haile - MicroCell - Solid Oxide Fuel Cells
  • Morey Gharib - Windmills and Water Turbines
  • Michael Hoffman - AquaPure Electrolysis for Energy Generation
  • Yu-Chong Tai - Neuro-stimulation
  • Joel Burdick - Lifewatch - Remote People Sensing
  • Steven Low - FAST Internet Speed-up Algorithm (2 projects)
  • Nate Lewis - Rain Forest Carbon Credits
  • Jean-Philippe Avouac - Aerial Assurance Detection of Small Geological Motion
  • Emmanuel Cordes - SmartMRI
Papers written were useful in determining which ideas should move forward and which should be abandoned. Also, because these business plans were based on proprietary Caltech technologies, their dissemination beyond the class has been limited.