New Graduate-Level Course Helps Prepare Entrepreneurs and Project Leaders

Achievement date: 

: A new graduate level course entitled "From Photonics Innovation to the Marketplace” was developed for the University of Arizona by faculty at the Center for Integrated Access Networks (CIAN), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) based at the university. The course seeks to develop skills that are critical to both entrepreneurs and scientists, including intellectual property development and elementary project leadership skills.


The initial class consisted of 10 students, each of whom learned the foundations of intellectual property, new product development, and team leadership in the class developed by Prof. Robert Norwood for the university’s College of Optical Sciences. All students draft a mock invention disclosure and participate in a team-based business plan development exercise culminating in a five-slide presentation of the essence of their value proposition. Student feedback on the course was quite positive.


A key part of the CIAN’s education mission is to teach students about technology commercialization, providing foundational information that can assist them in the development and launch of new products and the creation of new companies. Prof. Norwood draws from his 11 years of Fortune 50 experience, as well as cofounding a venture capital-backed startup, and provides specific case studies from the photonics industry.

A condensed version of the course material was incorporated into the CIAN Innovation workshop held at the University of California, San Diego in summer 2011, and was enthusiastically received.