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Capstone team Techtris hosted guest speaker Gene Frantz in a seminar focusing on ethics, leadership and entrepreneurship practices first hand. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

In a time of critical demand from industry, students from the Texas A&M University Department of Engineering Technology & Industrial Distribution hosted a seminar focusing on ethics, leadership and entrepreneurship — better preparing the capstone cohort for the post-graduation experience.

Thanks to the industry relationships nurtured in the capstone program, team Techtris hosted guest speaker Gene Frantz, professor in the practice at Rice University and chief technology officer and co-founder of Octavo Systems. This roundtable seminar provided all capstone teams the exposure to and experience with ethics, leadership and entrepreneurship (ELE) practices first hand, augmenting lessons in the traditional classroom setting.

Team Techtris is developing a small form factor at the Mobile Integrated Solutions Laboratory (MISL) with an intelligence layer capable of the command and control multiple sensors and measurement devices that utilizes the Linux operating system to be used on either the International Space Station or a satellite.

The variety of the relationships in the project with customer Texas Space, Technology, Applications & Research company (T STAR), project sponsor MISL, as well as extended partnerships with NASA and Octavo Systems, gives the team a way to incorporate these important ELE practices into their capstone sequence.

During the guided discussion, Frantz shared real-world ELE experiences from his current roles as well as past experience as a former Principal Fellow at Texas Instruments (TI). “I’ve been lucky enough to spend my career at extremely ethical companies. With ethics as a foundation, you are able to quickly build strong relationships with your customers, suppliers and within your organization."

Students learned about Frantz’s ethical and leadership challenges at TI as he became the industry spokesperson for digital signal processing (DSP) technology. Students focused on entrepreneurship as Frantz reviewed his involvement in the development of Octavo Systems, a leader in System-in-Package (SiP) technology, founded in 2013. Techtris will include a tiny Linux PC based on the Octavo Systems OSD335x SiP in their design.

Garrett Dupree, Techtris’ software engineer, reflected on the impact of the seminar.

“[The seminar] was very useful because you want to get in contact with those people who have been successful in industry and hear about the challenges they have faced… and as a student at Texas A&M you strive to learn as much as you can to do better, if not just as well.” 

Techtris is a new tech startup based in College Station, Texas. Founded in the engineering technology and industrial distribution department, the company is focused on the design, development, documentation and delivery of embedded intelligence-based product and systems. The team is dedicated to taking new technological ideas and creating fully functional prototypes.

The undergraduate experience in the Electronic Systems Engineering Technology (ESET) program in the department is based on hands-on experiential learning that includes a significant amount of laboratory assignments and projects. Senior ESET students are required to complete a two-semester capstone project to complete their degree. Forming a four- to six-member team, students conduct product design and development activities as a startup company, which includes the application and practice of project management concepts. Teams serve real industry customers and sponsors with oversight from the course director and a faculty technical advisor.