The Hitchhiker's Guide to Dayton Tech & Startups

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Dayton Tech & Startups

'Shark Tank'-like program set for tech-curious interns (Dayton Daily News)

This article, written by Ty Greenlees, first appeared in the Dayton Daily News on March 21, 2016. You can read the original post here.

Personal avatars, 3D-printed drones and sensors linked to smart phones are some of the projects that will be part of the new Discovery Lab Global, a summer program in Dayton meant to help students experience high-tech projects and a "Shark Tank"-competition.

Last year more than 100 high school and college undergraduate students worked on technical and scientific projects in the same type of setting for the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL). That program, called Discovery Lab, was sponsored by AFRL and partner Wright Brothers Institute and run by AFRL employee Rob Williams. 

That 10-year-old program ended with Williams’ retirement last year, but Williams recently founded a new non-profit, Discovery Lab Global, an extension of his former program. He'll continue his passion for connecting students with STEM learning opportunities and local researchers in a new environment.

“I really want this first year to focus on companies and communities,” Williams says. “I thought that this concept would benefit from not being constrained just to a DoD (Department of Defense) model. ‘Global’ was added because we want to open this up to students everywhere.”

Chosen students who are graduating high school seniors or first-year undergraduates will spend 10 weeks experimenting with tech-based projects. Then they'll create prototypes and compete for funding in a "Shark Tank"-like competition.

“You now are talking about giving students a chance to not only think about creating cool stuff but maybe even starting a company, accelerating entrepreneurial innovations while growing entrepreneurial innovators,” Williams said.

Because the new lab is outside AFRL, Williams and his team are working to secure partners and collaborators. Williams said the new lab space will be located in Dayton so students can work with local businesses.

“The partnership with communities and companies gives us pathfinding and prototyping opportunities,” Williams said.