EEP! – A Fitting Exclamation for Senior Design

You’re enrolling in your first semester of senior year as an engineering major. You are excited to finally take Senior Design, where you, yes you!, will build something amazing.

As you scroll down the list, you see it: “ECE 484 – Senior Design I”. You start to sweat as you move the mouse over the “Enroll” button, but then something catches your eye. Something unexpected. Right below the course of your dreams, you see “ECE 482 – Engineering Entrepreneurship and New Product Development I”. What is that?

The Engineering Entrepreneurship Program (EEP)

The Engineering Entrepreneurship Program is a fusion of engineering senior design and entrepreneurial business education. Its website describes the program as such:

“Imagine a program at NCSU where engineering students start with a blank sheet of paper. They are able to choose and then solve any engineering problem they like, by forming an entrepreneurial venture and inventing a new product to reach that solution. Imagine students taking up that challenge, and then meeting it by innovating and bringing successful products to market.”

After having done that research, you find yourself still hovering over the “Enroll” button to Senior Design I. You’re not sure if the EEP would be right for you. If only you had someone to tell you what it was like, you may be able to better make a decision…

R-E-S-P-E-E-P! Find out what it means to me!

Hello, my name is Gus and you may know me as the author of this blog post. I recently wrapped up my first semester in the EEP and would like to tell you a little bit about it.

My team’s (Team 248 represent!) EEP project/business is a high-tech escape room. How cool is that?! The EEP lets you choose any potentially viable, tech-based business and then make it happen. Through the EEP, Team 248 is building this weird, novel, and crazy fun idea and will potentially generate revenue off of it!

But it’s not all sunshine and roses, there is a lot to do before you can get to generating revenue. Listed below are some of what Team 248 has done thus far:

  • Ideated 120+ product ideas.
  • Interviewed potential customers and get feedback.
  • Interviewed local escape room owners to understand how to make a compelling experience.
  • Written Idea Feasibility Reports, Market and Competition Briefs, etc.
  • Created and gave 10+ presentations.
  • Researched and experimented with Internet-of-Things technology.
  • Played lots of escape rooms (we call this competitor research though)

And this is only a fraction of what we have done in our first semester. Second semester includes presenting more slide decks, writing business plans, prototyping, and much much more!

After hearing my testimonial for the EEP, you’ve moved your cursor away from Senior Design’s “Enroll” button and atop the EEP’s. But then a thought strikes you: but wait… I don’t want to be an entrepreneur or own my own company! I want to build technology, not businesses/relationships/confidence/etc.!

Why You Should Participate in the EEP

The analogy I like to draw between Senior Design and the EEP is the following: Senior Design is optimizing a small modular reactor’s cooling and filtration system while the EEP is building Disneyworld. You get to choose what your project is; we’re doing an escape room for crying out loud! What creative and potentially world-changing idea can you bring to the table?

If you have a dream of being an entrepreneur, this is the course for you. Although it is more structured than your typical entrepreneur’s path, you get plenty of education and experience following the Lean Startup method and Steve Blank’s principles and ideas. Plus, you’ll be surrounded by brilliant, like-minded people. From your fellow peers, to your mentors, to the instructors, everyone in the course wants to see everyone else succeed, including you!

Even if you’re planning on building technology and not businesses, you will almost certainly be building technology for businesses. Having at least the fundamentals of a business background the EEP provides will go a long way, both during the interview and on the job. All the document creation and presentation rehearsal will also bolster your communication skills, which all companies desire in their employees.

And even if you’re not in engineering, you can still sit in on the class or have access to the resources the course provides. Lean startup methodology and resources can be learned through its namesake book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and Steve Blank’s Udacity course is free. The instructors and students are always reachable by email and are willing to help you succeed (feel free to go ahead and shoot me an email at awvieweg@ncsu.edu and let’s get this conversation started!). And of course, there’s the Entrepreneurship Initative.

And by now, almost certainly, you’ve clicked the “Enroll” button on “ECE 482 – Engineering Entrepreneurship and Product Development I”. If not, you’re looking into the resources provided or penning me an email.

Talk to you soon!

Published in Blog.

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