Engineering students should work on authentic and ‘wicked’ challenges to be best prepared for developing technologies that address challenges in our complex world. This can be done with a learning-by-doing approach where students are positioned as entrepreneurs exploring market opportunities for novel technologies. During the NTNU–CERN Screening Week, students in an entrepreneurship program search for and create opportunities based on technologies developed at CERN that may have the potential to later become a start-up. However, the students have limited domain knowledge in terms of the advanced technologies or industrial application of them. Also, the technology readiness level (TRL) of the presented CERN technologies is often far from potential market entry. Previous research has primarily considered how student-oriented programs for technology commercialization are organized. In the present paper, we ask how students proceed to successfully generate market insights for progressing in a technology commercialization process. We performed an empirical process study of five student-driven feasibility studies. Our data includes in-depth interviews, field notes and on-site observations. The data is systematically analysed according to the visual mapping protocol for robustness and reliability. Our findings demonstrate how the students are translating an immature technology into a higher TRL and envision applications that do not exist in the real world, to be able to initiate conversations with potential customers and users. These insights contribute to the understanding of how students are becoming 'great pretenders' or 'breaking the norms' to engage stakeholders and enter the ‘Promoters Dilemma’, also challenging existing norms.
Thi-Thanh Do, T., Haneberg, D. H., Aadland, T., & Widding, Ø. (2023). Progression By Imitation: Empirical Evidence From The NTNU–CERN Screening Week. European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI). DOI: 10.21427/WESJ-NK61
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