Teachers Learn While Educating About Entrepreneurship

US Fed News

December 19, 2013

Kreg Kaminski feels lucky. He is learning about business while teaching in an internship he landed through the UTeach Program, which prepares students to become teachers while earning degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The biology major from Saugus is helping to teach an entrepreneurship course to Lowell High School students through UTeach. The program, founded at the University of Texas Austin 15 years ago, was established to attract students earning degrees in STEM fields to careers in teaching. The program has been introduced at 29 colleges across the country and UMass Lowell is the only participating New England university.

"By helping out with this course, I am getting an in-depth look at the processes behind both teaching and entrepreneurship," said Kaminski.

M2D2 - the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center - works with entrepreneurs who have ideas for new medical devices to help them move those ideas from concept to marketplace. The center is a joint project of UMass Lowell and UMass Worcester, which provide expertise in business, plastics engineering and medical testing to participants.

The new entrepreneurship course, "M2D2 Partnership Experience," which was developed with representatives of the program, teaches Lowell High School honors students how to develop medical devices, from identifying market needs to designing prototypes and pitching ideas to industry experts. The course is intended to inspire students to consider STEM professions.

Along with the high school students, Kaminski and another UTeach intern are learning about the medical device industry, entrepreneurship, communication and teamwork skills while also gaining real-world teaching experience. Once they graduate, the students will be able to choose between working in industry or education.

Kaminski said he wishes there had been a class like this when he was a high school student. "As a biology major, I care about medicine, design and politics, so being part of this M2D2 class has been a dream come true. It is a class I would have loved to have taken in high school."

For the first half of the school year, the Lowell High students have been learning how to identify market needs, develop concepts, create prototypes and understand regulatory affairs and intellectual property. They will identify one or two medical device needs.

During the second half of the year, the ideas will be vetted using industry best practices learned during the fall semester. The students will build a prototype and present their medical device idea to a group of medical device experts.

The M2D2 Partnership Experience course is supported by the UTeach Program, medical device companies and local sponsors. Corporate sponsors include Eastern Bank and Jeanne D'Arc Credit Union.

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