Getting research from the lab to the marketplace is a challenge for researchers and students at any institution. At undergraduate institutions, the barriers are especially high.
Union next week is hosting SUITED, an NSF-funded forum aimed at helping faculty and administrators from undergraduate institutions explore opportunities to develop technology in the U.S. (SUITED stands for Supporting Undergraduate Institutions in Technology and Entrepreneurship Development.)
Interest is high, according to Ann Anderson, the Agnes S. MacDonald Professor of Mechanical Engineering and conference chair. As of early January, 153 faculty and administrators from 30 states had registered. “We are really excited about the level of interest,” Anderson said.
The workshop begins Thursday, Jan. 12, at noon, and continues the following afternoon in a mix of hybrid and virtual sessions. For details, visit the SUITED website. Union College faculty and administrators are welcome to attend the hybrid sessions by contacting Prof. Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org
“A lot of research is done by faculty and students at primarily undergraduate institutions, but it does not often lead to technology transfer and commercialization,” Anderson said. “There are tremendous opportunities for taking these great ideas and getting them out to the marketplace.”
Union, Olin College and CUNY are the only undergraduate institutions that have participated in NSF programs to investigate tech commercialization potential, Anderson said. Union and Olin are the only ones to have a partnership in innovation grant from NSF to bridge basic research and commercial work, she added.
Anderson, along with colleagues Mary Carroll ’86, the Dwane W. Crichton Professor of Chemistry, and Brad Bruno, professor of mechanical engineering, obtained NSF funding for the SUITED workshops, which are to include two other in-person conferences at Union later this year.
The faculty trio has experience in this area. They lead the College’s Aerogel Lab, which has received patents for the manufacture of the lightweight material that has a wide range of applications. Anderson and Carroll have founded SunThru, a Schenectady startup that is commercializing silica aerogel inserts for energy-efficient windows. Two former students, John Costa ’17 and Adam Forti ’17, serve as CEO and COO, respectively.
The SUITED Workshop organizing committee also includes:
- John Blaho, director, Industrial-Academic Research, CUNY Central - Division of Innovation and Applied Research
- Diana Dabby, professor of electrical engineering and music, Olin College
- Jeff Goronkin, technology commercialization expert and CEO, Urban Co-Works
- Mercedes Susi, senior associate director of sponsored programs and faculty fellowships, Union College
- Emily Tong, assistant to the dean of academic departments and programs at Union, serves as administrator