The Mason School of Business at William & Mary and the NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) have signed an agreement to accelerate NASA’s technology transfer activities. The Space Act Agreement was signed in July, but work with the Alan B. Miller Entrepreneurship Center did not begin until this month.
The William & Mary team -- four MBA and four undergraduate students -- will be assigned to the project for the full academic year. The Entrepreneurship Field Consultancy Team will work with patented technologies -- materials, sensors and non-destructive technologies -- in this first group.
Through the agreement, the students will conduct business and commercialization studies that will include financial analyses, business plans and marketing plans as well as operating recommendations. The partnership will allow the students to gain real-world, hands-on, practical business experience, said Richard Ash, Banks Professor of Private Equity and Entrepreneurship.
“Enhancing the educational process in this way will provide our Mason School of Business students with an expanded opportunity to advance their interest in further studies in science, technology and commercialization,” Ash said. “At the same time, the students will gain valuable experience that will serve to sharpen their team and leadership abilities -- all skills which will be useful in their future careers.”
The studies conducted by the students will focus on additional potential commercial uses, creating opportunities for licensing by NASA, both parties said.
"This is the first time that NASA Langley has partnered with a college or university to do this type of study," said Kathy Dezern, the Office of Innovation lead for the NASA Langley Office of Strategic Analysis, Communications, & Business Development. "We're looking forward to the assessments from the William & Mary students that will further NASA's technology developments, commercialization opportunities and future partnerships."
To enhance the educational experience, the Mason School of Business Executive Partner Program has supplied the team with three senior, former NASA executives who have volunteered their services to Mason and the project, Ash noted.
In addition, the professors leading the Field Consultancy program -- Ash and Miller Center Managing Director Ronald J. Monarch -- both have expertise and experience in the creation, financing and operations of technology and business entities.
The team will be responsible for quarterly reports back to LaRC.
Each year, the Mason School's Corporate Field Consultancy Program contracts with major companies across the mid-Atlantic region. This is this first such agreement with NASA. Other companies in the program include Jefferson Labs and other for-profit and not-for-profit clients.