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Dayton Engineer

New UD engineering program prepares students for entrepreneurship

By Sarina Tacovic, marketing and communications

Mechanical engineering student, Ryan Rotsching, always wanted to be an engineer. At the end of his first year, he questioned if his passion was a good fit. But exploring entrepreneurship in a new University of Dayton program for engineers provided him a spark.

“If I didn't have this opportunity, I don't think I’d be as confident in engineering as I am right now,” Rotsching said of the Summer Engineering Innovation Program. “It also opened the door a lot more to the idea of being an entrepreneur, going on your own path and not having to follow other companies.”

Joel Carmany ’69 and his wife Annette are funding the program to help sophomore engineering students combine their technical background with entrepreneurial skills, something Joel mastered growing his printing business for three decades before selling it in 2022. Students learn how to build relationships with peers and industry professionals, devise a business plan and project proposal, and construct prototypes in the School of Engineering's makerspace.

“First-year students are just beginning to build their technical skills. This provides them with an opportunity to build their resumes and advance their job search,” said Becky Blust, executive director of the Innovation Center where the program lives.

One of the projects Rotsching and his teammates worked on in the summer program was a portable charger that uses weight and gravity to generate energy, a concept that piqued his interest two years ago at a UD engineering summer camp for high school students, and he continued to build on his first year at UD in an introductory design class.

Now, the team is preparing to take the concept to Flyer Pitch this fall with hopes of securing funding to create a market-ready product.

“Engineering, innovation and developing an entrepreneurial mindset and skills go hand-in-hand. I am very pleased to see the avenues at UD for our students to master these skills,” said Gül E. Kremer, UD dean of engineering.

Looking back at this summer, Rotsching realized engineering is the perfect fit for him.

“I'm willing to put in the effort to make a good product to bring to a customer," he said. "And, because I now have access to resources and I know who to ask for help, I know I could develop a pretty good product that's going to make a huge effect on the world, and I'm going to enjoy doing it.”

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