Students examine the entrepreneurial mindset as they explore market potential for senior projects

Nearly 20 students spent one of their first days of summer freedom huddled with the KC startup and business community to consider the possibilities of taking their Project Lead The Way capstone projects from academic exercise to marketable product.

During the June 1 Make It REAL workshop at the Kansas City Engineering Zone, the Kansas City Startup Foundation assembled teams of mentors and business coaches to work with student teams who earned a spot at the workshop by winning an Innovator Award during the Project Lead The Way Senior Showcase in late April. The student teams represented nine senior capstone projects brimming with possibilities:

  • The Light-up Safety Jacket
  • Collaboration Station
  • Charge It
  • pHostic Salivary Test
  • Hand Righting
  • Omni-directional Wheelchair
  • Spin!T
  • Modular Trumpet
  • Fan Cleaner

After an introduction to the entrepreneurial mindset and Lean Startup Model, students and mentors broke into small groups to dig in to market potential, resources and what students would need to do to take their project ideas forward. The goal, KC Startup Foundation’s Adam Arrendono said, was for each team to leave the day with at least one concrete next step.

Over lunch, teams learned about the pros and cons of the patent process and the power of branding from Anna Quinn of Lathrop & Gage, and then learned about resources available through KC SourceLink.

KC STEM Alliance’s Ann Zimmerman said the goal for the workshop is to link the education and entrepreneurial business community:

“We want to bridge the gap between high school to post-secondary and real-world opportunities,” Zimmerman said. “This is a fun day that gives students an inside look at what it’s like to start your own company or take a product to market. Whether they choose to pursue their projects right away or follow a more traditional path, students come away with a deeper understanding of real-world options and continue to build on those soft skills we know employers want.”