This guest post is written by Rodney Boehm, the Director of Engineering Entrepreneurship and an Associate Professor of Practice in the Texas A&M University College of Engineering.
It’s no secret that augmented and virtual reality are taking the world by storm. From gaming to health care to space travel — the sky is literally the limit with AR/VR. That is why I am so excited that Dell is joining the Engineering Entrepreneurship Program at Texas A&M University for Aggies Invent this weekend. Aggies Invent is a 48-hour intensive design experience that allows students to solve real problems and mingle with experts from industry. We host roughly three of these events each semester. Last year, our AR/VR-themed weekend, sponsored by Dell, was one of our most popular events of 2017. It didn’t hurt that each member of the winning team was awarded a Dell Precision 5520 Mobile Workstation.
Aggies Invent will take place this weekend (11/30-12/2), with a kickoff Friday afternoon when students select a need statement provided by Dell and our other partners, Accenture, Intel and Nvidia. These need statements are real problems that the AR/VR industry is currently trying to solve. Teams will be formed, and then the students get to work and produce a rudimentary prototype within a few hours. On Saturday, the teams will spread out across our 60,000 square foot makerspace — the Susu and Mark A. Fischer Engineering Design Center — or they’ll get together in one of our many huddle rooms in the Zachry Engineering Education Complex. By the end of the night, most teams will start working on their video and pitch, which they’ll present to a panel of judges on Sunday afternoon. It’s fast-paced, and I think it’s a great simulator for life beyond Texas A&M.
As a professor of practice and director of engineering entrepreneurship, I feel it is my obligation to prepare our students to be the movers and shakers of tomorrow. What better way to do that than by giving them the opportunity to work side-by-side with experienced engineers from Dell using technology that will pave the way we live in the future.
Last year, I was blown away by the ideas our students came up with in such a short period of time. They thought outside the box, put their heads together and came up with solutions to problems that major industries are trying to solve. The first place team, Shovel, designed a program that would allow construction workers to see where pipes are located underground before they start digging. Another team, AKU, created an entirely new car-buying experience that would allow the consumer to remain in the comfort of their own home. Team ARchitecture would make construction less costly by eliminating errors before they occur. These are just a few examples of some of the innovative ideas that were born in just 48 hours.
We all know that a college education isn’t just about acing exams. It’s about rolling up your sleeves, problem-solving and developing the communications skills required to work on a team. Aggies Invent gives students real-world experience that will jump off their resumé and serve as a talking point with potential employers. Not only does the experience give students a chance to harness their creativity, but it also allows them to gain invaluable practice networking with industry leaders. Who knows, perhaps some of the students who participate this weekend will later go on to work for Dell, bringing their innovative ideas into the homes of millions of Americans.
Dell pulled out all the stops last year, and I can’t wait to see what our students create this time around.
Learn about our global intensive design experience happening in February — Invent for the Planet.
Rodney Boehm is the Director of Engineering Entrepreneurship and an Associate Professor of Practice in the Texas A&M University College of Engineering. He has broad industry experiences, including over 35 years in all aspects of the telecommunications industry (sales, marketing, manufacturing, business development, and technical design), extensive experience in international companies, and running a startup. Currently he is using his technical business experiences to develop and run innovation and entrepreneurial programs for the College of Engineering, including Aggies Invent, Engineering Inc, and courses focused on developing an entrepreneurial mindset. He holds a BS and ME in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University.