Project Description

Engineering capstone courses are the ultimate learning activity in an engineering undergraduate program, designed to teach students a variety of valuable skills linked to using technology to solve problems. The course should teach: teamwork, engineering design, problem solving, communications and project management. Unfortunately Capstone outcomes can fail to achieve potential, through solving poor problems, discounting user feedback, and ignoring technology viability. TechConnect is designed to run in parallel with a Capstone Course, and address these issues.

  • Use Design Thinking principles/Jobs-To-Be-Done framework, to identify potential problems that can be addressed by technology
  • Refine/validate identified problem to be clear on problem you are solving, for whom it is being solved & how success is measured.
  • Use structured process to validate each stage of development, from idea/job being done to value proposition & business model.
  • Understand roles of different decision makers in the adoption process, and identify specific barriers to adoption to be addressed.
  • Enhance the design specification to overcome these barriers or to meet the technical requirements of a proposed business model
  • Learn to use customer discovery techniques to gather evidence to validate each stage of the technology development in capstone project

Four workshops over term, in parallel with capstone project:

  1. Problem identification / refinement
  2. Identifying value proposition
  3. Understanding barriers to adoption
  4. Technology/Business model options
  • Importance of technology commercialization
  • Evidenced based technology commercialization
  • Design Thinking
  • Jobs To Be Done
  • Value Proposition Canvas
  • Stakeholder Analysis
  • Customer Discovery
  • Market Segmentation
  • Barriers to Adoption
  • First Customers
  • Technology/Service Offerings
  • Alternate Business Models
  • Licensing versus Venture Creation
  • Critical Factors for Venture Success

The course is offered to undergraduate students completing their Capstone Projects. Each lesson (usually 30 minutes) provides a structured guideline to complement the Capstone Course, where student teams are required to complete a worksheet, & share it with their colleagues and faculty.

Course Director

Dr. Andrew Maxwell
Dr. Andrew Maxwell

Dr. Andrew Maxwell received his Ph.D. in Management Science at the University of Waterloo in 2011, winning the Academy of Management’s Heizer Award. Prior to this he completed an MBA at London Business School, and a B.Sc. (Eng.) in Electrical Engineering from Imperial College London. He has been Chief Innovation Officer at the Canadian Innovation Centre for the past 15 years, developing and delivering innovative and entrepreneurial programs and structured experiential courses.

He developed the TechConnect approach with Dr. Mcnamee, while at the Fox School of Business, and College of Engineering at Temple University (Philadelphia). It has since been deployed as one day workshops, as complements to undergraduate capstone engineering courses, and as a graduate course. In addition the methodology has also been deployed at a number of technology industry associations, with university technology transfer offices, inside specialist venture firms and in private and public research and development organizations. Users of the process find this approach illuminating, enhancing their understanding of the challenges of developing new technologies that will be used by users, and the need to better understand the psychology and emotions of potential users and other stakeholders. Organizations deploying this process often see a four-fold increase in the number of research projects reaching first customer.