Shark Bait: Browning Engineers Test Their Entrepreneurial Mettle

Could your idea be the next big thing? Why work towards creating a minimum viable product? How might we invent your next job? The widely popular reality show "Shark Tank" has proven the American Dream is still alive. This introduction to engineering design course asks students to answer these questions while engaged in the invention process and its application.  

William Noel famously said, “The Web of ancient manuscripts of the future isn't going to be built by institutions. It's going to be built by users … people who just want to curate their own glorious selection of beautiful things.” As users we notice problems from everyday life that are frustrating. Our objective was to isolate one problem, ideate and prototype a simple solution connected to the Internet. Bi-weekly our group worked in the lab demonstrating an ability to learn, create and problem-solve in an unstructured environment. Ideas brainstormed with pencil-paper doodles transformed rapidly to functional prototypes. Furthermore, we gathered for a round table outside the lab on alternating weeks. Each of these conversations were sparked by a relevant article related to entrepreneurship, market trends and how might we brand our inventions to succeed.

Through process and experience, students made connections with practical, analytical, creative and research-based thinking. In order to test his mettle, each boy created a succinct elevator pitch to sell his invention to a panel of some of the best advertising professionals from JUICE Pharma Worldwide.

One boy offered an accounting of his design and experience at JUICE, as follows: "My design was of a robot dog. The purpose of the dog was to help parents teach their children responsibility. The dog was upcycled to connect to the Internet using Wi-Fi signals. From these signals, anyone with a phone and the correct password could control the dog. The parent could force the dog to make a noise until a button is pressed. Throughout the course of the semester-long class, we pushed towards this independent design. Our designs were created using littleBits, modular electronics that transfer energy and stick together using small magnets and wood. The final design was taped over or colored in for the aesthetic. The presentation of the design was a culmination of all the lessons learned in the class. Presenting the final iteration of the project was a great experience in entrepreneurship and public speaking."

Most boys would agree that waiting in the green room to go on camera may have tested some nerves. However, all left with new tools young entrepreneurs and engineers agree are necessary for success.

Director of Technology Aaron Grill, Technology Integrator Anderson Harp and the entire engineering class would like to thank Browning parent Forrest King for organizing and inviting the class to JUICE Pharma.