COS Independent Work Seminar:
Invention and Innovation: Entrepreneurial Lessons for Computer Scientists

Fall 2015

General Information:

Instructor: Robert S. Fish (office hours: Thurs. 11AM-12PM and Fri 1-2PM in CS206, by appointment)
Preceptor: Yakir Vizel (office hours: Monday, 11AM-1PM, in CS 401, by appointment)
Meeting time and place: Thursday 3:00-4:20PM, CS 301 or Friday 11:00AM-12:20PM, CS 401
Links: Description, Schedule, Resources, FAQ, Piazza


How does an idea for an invention actually become an innovation in the marketplace? You may be a computer programming wizard, but there is a lot more to it than just fingers on the keyboard. This seminar, in concert with your developing an independent project of your choice, introduces some of the elements of thinking and developing an idea into a going concern. Your project will include a software prototype and paper/poster presentation that captures the feasibility of your idea as a business. To help you frame and complete your project, we will discuss distinctions between invention and innovation, various brainstorming and invention methodologies, the DARPA methodology for idea screening, an introduction to intellectual property including patents, a simple business plan, and the elements of an "elevator pitch." For the more adventurous, the possibility exists for you to share your idea in a real startup pitch event and report on the results.

Schedule (Tentative):

Date Topic Notes
Sept 17 Introduction
Sept 18 Information meeting for all IW students Large Auditorium (CS 104), 12:30-1:30PM
Sept 24 Develop project plans
Oct 1 Develop project plans
Oct 8 Proposal talks I Written proposals and proposal talk slides due Oct 6
Oct 15 Proposal talks II
Oct 22 Discussion and feedback
Oct 29 Discussion and feedback
Nov 5 Fall break
Nov 12 Discussion and feedback Checkpoint form due Nov. 10
Nov 19 Discussion and feedback
Nov 26 Thanksgiving
Dec 3 Discussion and feedback
Dec 11 Report talks I Report talk slides due
Dec 17 Report talks II
Jan 5 Written final report due
Jan 12 Poster session for all IW students Convocation Room (Friend Center), 10AM-1PM




Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Will this seminar make me rich beyond my wildest dreams?
    No, but you will have wisdom beyond your years (OK, this is a placeholder for future questions)