Cultivating Innovation Capacity of Undergraduates in a Technology Commercialization Academy in Midwest America


  • Arthur Chlebowski Univeristy of Southern Indiana
  • William Hawkins University of Southern Indiana
  • Joshua McWilliams University of Southern Indiana
  • Stephanie El Tawil Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville



entrepreneurship , frameworks, sprint, feasibility


The Technology Commercialization Academy (TCA) was launched to promote the identification, assessment, and exploitation of economically viable innovations by undergraduates and retain those graduates in the southwest Indiana region. Further, as part of the I-69 Innovation Corridor initiative, the TCA was part of increasing the regional Innovation Index score 20% by 2025. Through the seven years of implementation, the program has determined that there is a crucial tool set that is necessary for new graduates entering industry, including instilling that innovation is a balance; innovation is agile; innovation must fail, pivot, and focus quickly; and lastly the program must realize its capabilities, be diverse in thought, and recognize that the personnel are key. By instilling these practices in the participants, using available programmatic information and surveys, 100% of job seekers post-graduation were employed within six months, 9% began their own startup from the program, and 64% of these high impact graduates stayed in southwest Indiana. Overall, the TCA program structure has shifted to demand side iterative processes that create long-tail value for the region and made the participants attractive hires who are keenly aware of practices to move from opportunity to execution.

Author Biographies

Arthur Chlebowski, Univeristy of Southern Indiana

Dr. Arthur Chlebowski is an assistant professor in Engineering. Focused on translational research and embedded system design, Dr. Chlebowski has worked on several projects with local companies focused on providing reduction of idea to functional prototype. Dr. Chlebowski has also taught ideation and feasibility frameworks in multiple industries.

William Hawkins, University of Southern Indiana

Dr. William Hawkins is an assistant professor of Exercise Science and Biology. He founded a small, consumer-facing business during graduate school and actively works as a contract Data Scientist and Data Engineer. Dr. Hawkins draws on his experiences of starting a profitable consumer-facing business and his consulting efforts to help illustrate data-driven decision making. 

Joshua McWilliams, University of Southern Indiana

Josh McWilliams is an Instructor of Computer Information Systems, and in a previous role was responsible for the TCA program. Josh spent his professional career helping businesses grow revenue as a product management for scaleup and startup businesses, including his wife’s Optometry practice. Josh earned a B.S. in Informatics from Indiana University, M.S. in Information Systems from Kelley School of Business, and an M.B.A from USI.

Stephanie El Tawil, Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville

Stephanie El Tawil is the Director of Innovation & Entrepreneurship for the Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville. In addition to focusing on growth and engagement in the region’s first co-work and maker spaces, Stephanie supports and promotes entrepreneurial efforts for the greater Evansville community. Ms. El Tawil has an MBA from the University of Southern Indiana.


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