The SLU TechHub Team with representatives from DTI, DOST and CHED.
Joining the SLU Administrators and TechHub team were representatives from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). The Kapihan highlighted academe and government partnership as a major catalyst towards producing a new breed of engineers called “technopreneurs.” With the converging assistance and support from the three (3) government agencies, the TechHub creates an ecosystem of complementing services starting from immersion and creativity, to innovation and technology, onwards to knowledge creation and intellectual property, and eventually - commercialization. A spectrum of strategies and services in the TechHub are available, all leading towards a vision of wealth creation for the university, industry partners, and the local and regional economy. The TechHub activities are programmed in such a way that the development of market impact is always attained. One example is the active partnering of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) with engineering and architecture students in product or packaging design and development in a state-of-the art digital prototyping laboratory thus improving its marketability.
The university was entrusted a total combined grant of approximately 31.6 million pesos from the above-mentioned government agencies with sustained guidance from Philippine Development Foundation (PhilDev) and USAID. True to the form of creating ecosystem services, the synergy of Technopreneurship 101, a new engineering subject, prepares the students to gradually segue to an entrepreneurial mindset. Reinforcing their technopreneurial skills is a digital fabrication laboratory (FabLab) and a Technology Business Incubator (TBI). With this complete technopreneurial ecosystem services, the TechHub is a bustling center of activities actively working to produce a new breed of engineers who are not only tech-savvy but are avid problem-solvers and capable of owning their innovations by becoming technopreneurs.
The Simulation Laboratory
These changes are happening purposely. CHED mandated all universities in the country to offer engineering programs to incorporate Technopreneurhsip 101 as a required subject. Selected faculty, particularly in SLU’s School of Engineering and Architecture, had been training and immersing themselves in this new mindset since 2016 in order for them to teach this subject with confidence and credibility. The SLU TechHub has evolved and now houses three (3) Centers. The SLU Incubator for Research, Innovation, and Business, known as the SIRIB Center, was created together with CHED and PhilDev to support research and development initiatives. It is where students are taught and guided through the process of ideation and design thinking. After which, the ideas of the students are moved to the “making phase” or prototyping in the FabLab which is a DTI Shared Service Facility (SSF). It is at this stage where students and faculty, together with MSMEs and the community, make their plan become real and tangible objects or products that are useful to society. Finally, the third center, the SLU-DOST Convergent Resilience Technology Business Incubator (ConRes TBI), is the space where technology ideas are incubated to become ventures that are ready for commercialization. Business support through industry partnership is provided in the TBI aside from business coaching, mentoring, and Intellectual Property advising. The SLU TechHub sees to it that all the three (3) centers are working together to a convergence within a robust ecosystem. The SLU TechHub attracts students in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture and Mathematics (STEAM) Program.
The Prototype Laboratory
During the Kapihan, various tech products from the Mechatronics, Mechanical, Civil, Electronics, Chemical, and Industrial Engineering programs were showcased such as the Duplicarving Machine, a machine developed to duplicate woodcarvings; the Modular Drone Payload System for Surveying; the Smart Beehive or eBee, an automated temperature-controlled beehive with monitoring system for the beekeeping industry; the Modified Wheelchair with Lifting Mechanism, a wheelchair-stretcher in one designed for the healthcare industry; the Automated Plant Water and Light Incubator for the agriculture space; the CEBloc, an envirosafe and resilient soil technology for shelters; and the HeartBag, an engineered backpack for remote rural area healthcare workers.
The Hybrid Engineers
The first batch of this new breed of engineers will graduate in 2022 and are expected to have undergone the entire Technopreneurship “learning and doing” through the SLU TechHub’s SIRIB Center, FabLab, and ConRes TBI. In a few years’ time, through these technopreneurs, there will be an emergence of spin-offs, startups, and an animated Knowledge Economy.
Visit the SLU TechHub at Saint Louis University. It is located at the 5th floor Otto Hahn Building in the School of Engineering and Architecture, Bonifacio Street, Baguio City, Philippines.
By: Meljony J. Palangeo