Learning to Translate Research into Products

Achievement date: 

The Translational Engineering Skills Program (TESP) teaches specific skills crucial to converting fundamental research into products and systems, and was developed at the Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST), an NSF-funded Center headquartered at North Carolina State University.


Led by the Center’s industrial liaison officer, students brainstorm, develop possible invention ideas, and write and grade an invention disclosure. Students look at their own research from an entrepreneurship perspective, which promotes collaboration and innovation within the Center and provides experience in brainstorming, patent development, and technical writing.


The Translational Skills are a set of seven competencies that promote the conversion of research into complete engineering products and systems. They combine the essential “soft” and “global” skills—such as communication, mentoring/leadership, engineering ethics and diversity awareness—with skills needed to develop products, including systems thinking, entrepreneurship, and a grasp of current and emerging manufacturing processes.


TESP activities are usually half-day, experiential learning sessions offered monthly at all partner institutions. Education leaders across campuses work together to ensure the student experience is uniform across institutions. As an example, one of the core activities in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation skill block is a patent-mining session that emulates how many companies build their patent portfolios.