Texas Tech University

Dr. Frias and Fellow Researchers Awarded VentureWell Research Grant

Trevor Bell

September 17, 2015

A team of researchers led by Dr. Kellilynn M. Frias, Assistant Professor in the Area of Marketing at the Rawls College of Business, Dr. Tim Dallas, Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the Whitacre College of Engineering and Dr. DeAnn Lechtenberger, Director of Technical Assistance and Community Outreach for the Burkhart Center for Autism Education & Research have been awarded a faculty research grant by VentureWell. The grant project supports Dr. Frias' work in high-technology innovations and commercialization. The project entitled "Integrative E-learning course: Bringing together business, engineering, and Autism Spectrum Disorder Students" establishes a new project-based course for engineering and business students, in partnership with the Burkhart Center.

Burkhart Center for Autism Education & Research

The design of this learning experience will entail the creation of E-Teams - each comprised of two business students, two engineering students, and one Burkhart student - that will focus on technology innovations for and by people with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The student teams are designed to allow for the creative development of new technologies with the intention of pursuing commercialization avenues. Each team will be faculty-mentored in the area of design and business strategy, while the Burkhart Center will provide potential customer (e.g. children and families) data for market research during the technology development and market feedback portions of the course.

Each E-team will also have the opportunity to meet with administrators from the Small Business Development of West Texas and with the university's Office of Research Commercialization for additional project innovation mentoring. The Small Business Development Center of West Texas will provide instruction on business plans and avenues for funding while also providing guest speakers from the local investor network. The Texas Tech Office of Research Commercialization will offer opportunities for students to participate in pitch competitions (that may occur during or after the course), opportunities to participate in technology accelerator programs, and potential funding opportunities should the technologies progress beyond the class.

"The project will provide an opportunity for students from across campus to work together to generate new ideas and products for the market. I am excited to work with this diverse group of students and look forward to seeing their innovations come to life throughout the coming semesters," Dr. Frias said. "This grant provides us with a tremendous opportunity showcase our talent at Texas Tech."

VentureWell includes a membership of nearly 200 colleges and universities from across the U.S., engaging thousands of undergraduate and graduate student entrepreneurs each year and is a leader in funding, training, coaching and early investment that brings student innovations to the world.

For more information, contact Dr. Frias at kelli.frias@ttu.edu.

This supports the efforts outlined in the Rawls College of Business Strategic Plan. Learn more about the LEADER 2020 Strategic Plan and follow our progress on Twitter at #RawlsLeads.