Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Paving the Way into Technology Transfer. (Tech Talk)

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Paving the Way into Technology Transfer. (Tech Talk)

Article excerpt

As a graduate student in computer science, Monica Williams is intent on having a career that gets her into the senior management ranks of

the companies for which she will work. In the spring of 2001, near the end of her first year of graduate studies at Jackson State University in Mississippi, Williams applied for and landed a paid apprenticeship in the field of technology transfer.

Technology transfer refers to the process carried out between research organizations and businesses that converts scientific and technological research into commercially viable technologies and products.

"I didn't know anything about the field before I got into the apprenticeship," Williams says.

After two months of academic training, Williams took a staff position at an U.S. Army Corps of Engineers laboratory in Hanover, N.H. During a six-month stint at the laboratory, she designed and created a computer database for the organization's technology transfer program.

"It was a great experience. The people there were good to me, and I learned a lot about how technology transfer works in a research laboratory," says Williams, who now is considering making a career of technology transfer.

Williams is one of more than 70 minority college graduates and graduate students who have completed the Entrepreneurial Technology Apprenticeship Program (ETAP), which is based at the National Technology Transfer Center (NTTC) at Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, W.Va.

In recent years, the technology transfer field has attracted a growing number of college graduates and recipients of master's and doctoral degrees. The field typically draws graduates from a wide array of backgrounds, including engineering, law, business, marketing and the sciences.

Recognizing that few minority graduates were taking technology transfer jobs, officials from three historically Black colleges--West Virginia State University, University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and Central State University --the National Technology Transfer Center, and the U.S. Department of Commerce launched ETAP in 1995 to expose students at historically Black institutions to the field. The program has since expanded to include all students from minority-serving institutions and minorities from any college or university.

"The intent of the program is to encourage minority students and graduates to consider a career in technology transfer and technology management," says Frantz Alcindor, ETAP's program manager.

Each summer, the NTTC hosts 15 to 20 college juniors, recently graduated seniors, and graduate students for an intensive eight-week academic training program where students learn the basics of technology commercialization. …

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