Although much of the work done by NC State's Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) involves high-tech gizmos like semiconductors, software, and genomics tools, lower-tech efforts in educational training and publishing are also important parts of the University's technology mix.
Dr. Alan Reiman, for example, loves teaching teachers, helping them improve their skills as educators. But he had some learning to do himself when it came to publishing a set of teacher training materials.
With school districts around North Carolina having trouble attracting enough new teachers and dealing with classroom burnout, Reiman and his colleagues in the College of Education developed the SUCCEED curriculum to support beginning teachers and experienced educators who mentor younger faculty. About four years ago, they decided to translate the printed materials to a multimedia format, putting lessons and demonstrations on CDs and videos for wider distribution. "We needed to build capacity for school systems to do more of this training on their own," he says.
But the move created new issues to be addressed. Materials needed to be copyrighted. End-user license agreements needed to be included in the CDs. And a distributor needed to be lined up to accept and fill orders. "We were clueless, absolutely clueless as to everything that was involved," Reiman says with a grin.
Fortunately, OTT wasn't. The office has established a Copyright Committee of faculty, staff, and students, similar to the long-standing Intellectual Property Committee, to review issues of ownership and the commercial potential of publishable materials like SUCCEED.
Another low-tech but high-touch publication, a European history textbook written a decade ago by late political science professor Joe Mastro, still ranks among the biggest commercial successes for NC State. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Mastro quickly put together a sixth-grade textbook for North Carolina schools, Living in Europe and Eurasia, to reflect the new political landscape. North Carolina lawmakers then appropriated money for NC State to develop new history textbooks for the fourth through seventh grades. The books grossed $13 million, according to Jim Clark, director of humanities extension for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Education is a critical element of NC State's research mission, OTT Director Dr. Donna Cookmeyer says. "Our goal is to raise the visibility of the research and teaching at NC State," she says, "so that more inventions, including books and ideas, are made available to those who need them."
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