Pitching plastics: innovation to entrepreneurship

Pitching plastics: innovation to entrepreneurship

Innovation is as vital as ever on college campuses, and it’s no totally different within the Division of Supplies Science and Engineering (MSE) at Iowa State College the place college students will pitch pitched plastic merchandise because the a part of a course that takes college students alongside the trail from innovation to entrepreneurship.

Shan Jiang, affiliate professor in MSE, wished a approach to join pupil’s innovation with entrepreneurship, all whereas remaining sustainable.

“You may educate a principle, however it’s unattainable to show innovation,” Jiang mentioned. “Nonetheless, for those who give college students an issue they’re engaged in, they are going to attempt their greatest, they are going to innovate on issues they’re captivated with. That’s the problem, combining what they be taught within the classroom and utilizing subjects they’re fanatic about.”


Jiang noticed a chance for synergy with the REFORM Membership he created and thru a VentureWell course grant, which advances innovation and entrepreneurship schooling and supplies distinctive alternatives for STEM college students and researchers.

Pitching plastics: innovation to entrepreneurship
A 3D-printed ocarina, a wind instrument, sits within the REFORM lab.
Shan Jiang holds and discusses printing materials with Ayman Karmi.
Shan Jiang discusses printing supplies with a member of the REFORM Membership.

REFORM, or REcyclables FOR Music, is a pupil membership that lets college students take reclaimed plastic and use it to 3D print recyclable musical devices. This required some preliminary investments in correct gear, like a grinder and extruder to get the right consistency when breaking down the reclaimed plastic. The plastic obtained is all on campus, a number of it from discarded structure fashions made by Iowa State structure college students.

Abby Stanlick, REFORM president, has been a member because the starting. She mentioned she enjoys working with different members from totally different backgrounds and majors and is grateful she will see the opposite aspect of supplies science, just like the gear it takes to check and study totally different supplies.

Innovation to entrepreneurship

This spring, Jiang remixed the notes performed by REFORM and their gear with the tune of entrepreneurship with a one-credit course, funded by the VentureWell grant, that can mix the know-how of recycling plastics correctly, with the talents wanted to create a product, develop a marketing strategy behind it and convey it to market.

“They’ll are available, discover ways to do [recycle plastic] and perceive the plastic downside, then they will do no matter they wish to probably make a revenue on the finish,” Jiang mentioned. “We educate them basic items about enterprise planning and entrepreneurship and allow them to innovate alongside the way in which.”

Dr. Shan Jiang standing and speaking to a student next to him. Both are looking at a document.

Jiang is co-instructing with Dr. Lingyao Yuan, assistant professor within the Division of Data Methods and Enterprise Analytics within the Ivy Faculty of Enterprise at Iowa State. She designed the curriculum for the enterprise aspect of the course like undertaking administration, buyer discovery, enterprise displays, entrepreneurship and extra.

“The largest profit from my perspective, together with the information of recycling and sustainability, is the expertise,” Yuan mentioned. “Entrepreneurship merely can’t be taught in school rooms or labs, however with precise expertise. College students can have the possibility to expertise the “start” and “development”—possibly “dying”—of an progressive concept. And they don’t seem to be alone. They get the publicity to work with others, most likely individuals with totally different backgrounds.”

The objective is to have college students develop a product from the reclaimed plastic, construct a marketing strategy round it, and current a “pitch” on the finish of the semester.

“Innovation on the finish of the day is about information, and for those who don’t have information, how do you innovate?” Jiang mentioned. “These are actual world challenges. Enterprise college students and engineering college students suppose on totally different ranges, and this course is great manner of marrying these two. Everybody desires to do innovation and make a extra sustainable world, and now this is a chance to just do that.”