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NSWC Crane technology transformed into USI student business plans and prototypes for eighth consecutive year

By NSWC Crane Corporate Communications | July 29, 2019

CRANE, Ind. – Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) hosted University of Southern Indiana (USI) students to present their final Technology Commercialization Academy (TCA) projects on July 26 at NSWC Crane.

Sixteen students, competitively selected from a pool of nearly seventy applicants, participated in TCA 2019. TCA is a summer program, similar to an internship, designed for USI students to develop business plans based on NSWC Crane intellectual property (IP). TCA is a program made possible through a partnership with the Lilly Foundation. At the end of the TCA, students present their prototypes and business ideas to NSWC Crane subject matter experts and leadership.

Jenna Dix, the Technology Transfer (T2) Director at NSWC Crane, says the students that participate in TCA are multidisciplinary.

“Applicants come from diverse backgrounds – we’ve had nursing, public relations, and art students in the program since TCA’s inception in 2012,” says Dix. “You get a wide-range of students who are interested in entrepreneurship. They have the opportunity to work in interdisciplinary teams, which helps them get comprehensive experience in launching a business.”

The IP selected for the program represents the diverse technologies, experts, and laboratories across NSWC Crane’s mission areas. Throughout the course, students are able to interact directly with the inventors and tour state-of-the-art labs where the technology is developed.

Dix says TCA creates learning opportunities for USI students while benefitting NSWC Crane. The program allows students to find creative, commercial uses for military technology. Without constraints like government requirements and funding restrictions, students have the freedom to think outside the box and come up with innovative ideas and solutions. 

This year, students came up with a mobile app called “urTrash” which aims to cut down on the amount of trash someone creates every day by providing them a way to visualize their output. Their idea came from brainstorming on a Crane patent for alternate reality visualization. Other ideas from TCA 2019 include a device for improving your backyard experience by cutting down on traffic and construction noise, a device for blood flow restriction therapy, and many others.

“TCA gives students an intense learning experience in entrepreneurship,” says Dix. “They talk to business owners in the Evansville community and they get exposure to the NSWC Crane science and technology community and resources. Several TCA alumni have become employees here at NSWC Crane.”

Tyler Fitzsimmons, an Engineer at NSWC Crane, is a TCA alumni.

“TCA was a phenomenal experience that broadened my perspective on entrepreneurship and how I could apply my engineering skill set,” says Fitzsimmons. “My TCA team was able to successfully transition our product past the summer program, garner financial interest, and continue our work. I consider TCA to be one of the highlights of my college career, opening my eyes to both the creative and technical sides of entrepreneurship. I have tried to transition the skills I learned in TCA to Crane by working with people from diverse backgrounds and looking for ways to push innovation in the government ecosystem.”

NSWC Crane’s Technology Transfer (T2) Program helps link federal research and development to academic institutions and businesses in the private sector. The NSWC Crane T2 program has partnerships with more than 100 businesses, individuals and universities, including  212 active agreements.

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.