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Engineering Entrepreneurs – Turning Ideas Into New Products & Services

November 8, 2017 @ 2:30 pm - 5:30 pm

This seminar is not just for “engineers”.  It is about engineering (as a verb – i.e. “developing”) the skills of entrepreneurs of all kinds. For entrepreneurs, engineering students, practicing engineers and small business owners pursuing product development.  Come join Houston Community College and our partners as we “engineer entrepreneurs” and empower you to turn ideas into new products and services.

Featured Topics

4142015_programpage_engineeringSession 1 Topics:  

Engineering Entrepreneurs-Turning Ideas Into New Products & Services

John Vasselli, Director, Center of Excellence in Engineering

This presentation will discuss key elements of a proven engineering  product/services “design process” applicable to one-person company entrepreneurs as well as individuals working in large corporations.

  • Idea Creation – How does it happen?
  • Market Assessment – What is your unique advantage?
  • Technology Assessment – How will your product or service work?
  • Product Development – How do you go from a “prototype” to a “product”?
  • Protecting Your Intellectual Property – to patent or not to patent?
  • Commercialization Strategies – license, partner, or sell directly?

Eng-Ent-Vasselli-in-Front-09-161857Session 2 Topics:  “Grants for Idea Development and Proof of Concept”

Tim Jeffcoat, Director, SBA Houston District

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program awards small businesses grants for up to $100,000 to develop innovative ideas and grants for up to $1.5 million for proof of concept.

Session 3 Topics:  “Pitching Your Idea”

Presenters – John Vasselli, Filip Valica – Round Table Facilitators – John, Filip, Jim Gosnell & Adlofo Morales – Participants – Our Attendees!

Eng-Entr-Roundtables-09-184049Tips & techniques for effective presentation & communication skills.  How to relay key compelling statements.  Tell the plan for a great idea in a short amount of time.  Round Table Pitch exercises will also forge connections and inspire friendships as each participant practices their idea pitch presentation skills and gets constructive feedback from their peers and the round table facilitators.

        eng-ent-pitch-in-front-09-185727 eng-ent-ideas-pitch-in-front-2-09-185827 eng-ent-pitch-up-front-3-09-190043 eng-ent-student-pitch-09-185632 eng-ent-s-thompson-09-175008eng-ent-score-09-173907

Each table group will nominate a standout performer who then gets to pitch in front of the whole room.

Featured Resource Providers

  • Small Business Administration – If your small business is engaged in scientific research and development, you may qualify for federal grants under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. These programs encourage small firms to undertake scientific research that helps meet federal research and development objectives and have high potential for commercialization if successful.  The SBIR program, awards Stage 1 grants for up to $100,000 to develop innovative ideas.  SBIR also offers Stage 2 Grants for up to $1.5 million for proof of concept. The SBA doesn’t give grants to start or expand a business. Small businesses and nonprofits conducting research and development can apply for grants at SBIR.gov.  Come to our workshop and learn more about how to apply.
  • SCORE –  Jim Gosnell and Adolfo MoralesSCORE Mentors, SCORE is an all-volunteer group with real-world business experience, dedicated to small business owners’ success.  SCORE’s Mission: Help small Businesses succeed.  SCORE’s Mantra:  We educate, counsel, mentor.  SCORE mentors will be present to speak about SCORE offerings and participate in our workshop.
  • Center for Entrepreneurship (c4e) – HCC NW Sandra Louvier, Director, The c4e offers workshops, classes, certificates, competitions, networking, connections to entrepreneurial resources including funding. More on HCC Entrepreneurial initiatives system wide!.
  • West Houston Institute, including MakerSpace, Susan Thompson, Director, STEM Programs
  • Center of Excellence in Engineering – University of Texas at Tyler Engineering Program, Texas A&M-Chevron Engineering Academy

SCROLL Down for More on our Speakers and Resource Providers!

Register Now

Fee:  $25.00 on line, $35.00 at the door.  Includes Refreshments and Snacks!

This event is offered at this reduced cost to the Houston area,
thanks to our Center for Entrepreneurship Partners and Sponsors

Veterans: FREE for first 10 Veterans after October 26, Thanks to Capital One Bank. (Code: VETS)

Also FREE for HCC College Credit Students, Faculty, Staff and Alumni.  (Code: HCCS)

Registration and Check – In:  2:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Location:  HCC Alief Hayes, A319, 3rd Floor

Scroll down for photos and bios of our speakers!

Click Here to See Photos of Last Year’s Engineering Entrepreneurs Seminar

Featured Presenters

john-vasselli-head-shotJohn J. Vasselli, Entrepreneur, Dean, Center of Excellence in Engineering, Houston Community College.

He possesses over forty years of engineering experience ranging from the Federal research environment, through large corporations, to starting and owning his own engineering businesses.  John’s career as a scientist, researcher, product developer, and serial entrepreneur gives him a full-spectrum understanding of how to turn a new idea into a global corporation.  Three of the companies that John led grew to over $100M/year in annual sales. He holds several patents, and degrees in electrical, biomedical and systems engineering.


  • Houston Community College System – Dean, Engineering Center of Excellence

  • Executive Director of TxAIRE Research Institute

  • Carrier Corp. – Chief of Technology for Indoor Air Quality & Global Technology Fellow

  • Syracuse Center of Excellence for Environmental and Energy Systems – Exec. VP

  • Green Star Technologies – Founder & President

  • Houston Advanced Research Center – President & CEO

  • Syracuse Research Corporation, Director of Corporate Development

  • Science Applications International Corporation – Corp. Vice President

  • Farmers Mills Technologies – Founder & President

  • Air Force Research Laboratory & DARPA Program Manager – Sr. Research Engineer

  • United States Air Force – Captain

Tim JeffcoatTim Jeffcoat, District Director , U.S. Small Business Administration, Houston District Office  

He oversees the delivery of SBA programs and services directly and through several resource partners to the small business communities in a 32-county district. Tim is a graduate of Auburn University with a Master of Business Administration degree. He also has undergraduate degrees in Marketing and Commercial Music, and has completed post-graduate work. Most of Tim’s career has been in private sector executive leadership roles, principally in marketing management, business development, and international business. His career has required several relocations, including international assignments with Schlumberger. While based in England Tim was responsible for product development, product management and business development for all countries except the US, Canada and Mexico, and with special emphasis on Europe, Africa, and South America. Prior to joining the SBA Houston District Office, Tim served as the Deputy District Director at the SBA Oklahoma District Office. In his spare time Tim enjoys training for and competing in iron-distance triathlons and teaching graduate business classes for the University of Phoenix and Keller Graduate School.

filip valicaFilip Valica, Owner, The Product Startup, Winner, 2nd Place, 2010 HCC Newspring Business Plan Competition

In 2010, Filip won second place and $8,000 in the Newspring / HCC Business Plan Competition. Filip works as an engineering manager and has 12 years of experience bringing products to market in the Oil & Gas and Business Consulting industries, specializing in R&D, design, testing, production and process improvement.  Filip says he hit obstacles in opening early on, but the BPC training, mentoring and mindset led to his becoming a corporate intrapraneur.  As an engineering manager within an engineering company he was chosen repeatedly to work on product development teams. 2017 Update:  This led later to his company, The Product Startup, a free resource for inventors and entrepreneurs that teaches DIY Product Development.  Filip “pays it forward” by serving as a mentor to upcoming entrepreneurs through the HCC Newspring Business Plan Competition and through Station Houston.

Featured Resource Providers   

SBA_logoThe U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has delivered millions of loans, loan guarantees, contracts, counseling sessions and other forms of assistance to small businesses. The SBA was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. We recognize that small business is critical to our economic recovery and strength, to building America’s future, and to helping the United States compete in today’s global marketplace. The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses. Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands and Guam.

SCORESCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship.  Supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and in operation over 50 years, 320+ SCORE chapters hold events and workshops locally across the U.S. and its territories, and match up entrepreneurs with local, volunteer mentors.  SCORE is our strategic partner and mentors entrepreneurs at HCC Alief Hayes.

bizconnect-logo-bwThe HCC Northwest College Center for Entrepreneurship provides education and training for startup and existing small business owners and their employees.  Our mission fosters economic growth through business and community development.  We offer: workshops, seminars, summits & boot camps; continuing education classes; college credit classes, certificates and degrees; mentoring through a wealth of resource partners; and the annual HCC Newspring Business Plan Competition.

WHI photo jpegThe West Houston Institute is currently under construction and scheduled to open in Spring 2018.  Located on 23.4 acres at Westheimer and Hayes Road, this 111,862 square foot facility will include a 10,000 square foot MakerSpace, a Collaboratorium for facilitated strategic planning, conference space for 600, a Teaching Innovation Lab; STEAMworks and IDEAS Academy, a learning commons and experiential classrooms and labs.  The West Houston Institute is designed to facilitate the collision of ideas and concepts within cutting edge space, programs and activities and thereby ignite continued innovation and cross collaboration between multiple disciplines, particularly: STEAM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math); the Center for Entrepreneurship; and the Centers of Excellence in Engineering, Media Arts and Technology, Visual and Performing Arts and Business; all of which have strong presences at HCC Alief Hayes and other nearby campuses.

The HCC Engineering Center of Excellence is designed to support career pathways in various engineering fields to fill highly-skilled job opportunities in Houston, and specifically in the Energy Corridor.Houston’s Energy Corridor is the third largest employment center in the region. Nearly 800,000 employed persons and more than 43% of all Houston area architects and engineers live within a 30-minute commute zone of The Energy Corridor.

  • ut-tylerUniversity of Texas at Tyler Engineering Program –  The University of Texas at Tyler is partnering with Houston Community College to allow students to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering at the UT Tyler Houston Engineering Center (HEC), located on the second floor of the HCC Alief-Hayes campus in Houston.  Through this engineering partnership with The University of Texas at Tyler, students have an opportunity to earn a Bachelor’s degree in engineering: mechanical, electrical or civil engineering. The program is conveniently located at the HCC Alief-Hayes campus, is affordable at less than $20,000 for a four year degree (in-district tuition), is seamlessly aligned with the UT Tyler curriculum, and is ABET accredited.  Learn more

  • tamuTexas A&M-Chevron Engineering Academy – The Texas A&M-Chevron Engineering Academy at Houston Community College is an innovative program that offers students interested in pursuing an engineering degree at Texas A&M University the opportunity to co-enroll at HCC and the College of Engineering at Texas A&M.  Engineering Academy students have the unique opportunity to complete Texas A&M engineering courses during their two years at HCC in Houston.  At the end of two years, upon successful completion of the Engineering Academy at HCC with at least a 2.5 CGPA, students will apply to the College of Engineering major of their choice. The remainder of the bachelor’s degree coursework would be completed in College Station.  Learn more


November 8, 2017
2:30 pm - 5:30 pm


HCC Alief Hayes Campus-Ctr. for Entrepreneurship-3rd Floor – Room A319/A320
2811 Hayes Rd.
Houston, TX 77082 United States
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