Innovation is the lifeblood of entrepreneurship – and competition – especially in the automotive industry. Students from the Engineering Entrepreneurship program recently went "under the hood” to experience this challenge for themselves as part of the 2010 University of Detroit Mercy(UDM)/Ford Innovation Contest, and in the process, brought home second place in this national competition.
"Coming up with a good idea is one thing, but being able to fill a need, market an idea, and sell it is what entrepreneurship is all about,” says Ed Dougherty, Interim Director of the Engineering Entrepreneurship Program. "Our Engineering Entrepreneurship minor blends engineering fundamentals with best business practices, thanks to our engineering faculty working closely with our friends at the Villanova School of Business, so this competition was a great way for our students to put into practice what they have learned in the classroom.”
For this year’s challenge, teams were asked to develop ideas for the vehicle interior of the future and permitted to consider everything on the inside of a vehicle as part of the scope of the project. In thinking about problems with current interiors, students developed proposed solutions and submitted their ideas in the form of a three-minute digital video, which was judged by representatives from Ford and UDM, as well as a Detroit-area entrepreneur and a member of the automotive media.
The winners were announced at UDM’s annual Ford Innovation Symposium on November 18. Coming in second place, Scott Rogener ECE ’12, Daniel Xavier Rosato CE ’12, Jeetsingh Bhujun ECE ’11, and Yazid El Hilali CE ’12 developed a concept for using the computing power of today’s smartphones to provide a customized driving experience. The Smartphone Dock integrates all of the electronics within the vehicle, from radio station selections and hands-free calling, to seat and mirror position settings.The team received a $500 prize, a trophy, and individual certificates. The College also fielded two other teams, one of which narrowly missed third place by one percent of the vote for their concept of an automatic sun shade to keep parked vehicles cool even on warm days.