The majority of IPPD projects are sponsored by industrial partners who commission the students to design and build electronics, machines and components, software, manufacturing processes, and chemical processes. Each multidisciplinary team of undergraduate students is composed of up to six members, and is led by a faculty member who serves under the official role of Team Coach. In addition, each team interacts with a liaison engineer, appointed by the sponsoring company, who has the responsibility of interacting with the team on a weekly basis via teleconferencing and of hosting the team members when they travel to the sponsor's site. The student teams follow a structured design approach that involves the production of weekly deliverables, and they manage the project's progress in terms of standard Gantt charts. Industry praises the IPPD effort as an outstanding experiential education program, with benefits for students, faculty, and industry. Funding for each project is provided by its industrial sponsor. The IPPD program collects approximately $500,000 per year in sponsor fees.
A smaller number of IPPD projects are sponsored by entrepreneurial or venture-capital partners, under a recently-created Integrated Technology Ventures (ITV) initiative. In addition to inheriting the experience base of our classical IPPD program, the ITV program builds upon other successful UF-industry interaction model programs such as the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI), the Office of Technology Licensing (OTL), and two university supported technology start-up incubator facilities. The students learn the entrepreneurial process as members of a virtual company led by an entrepreneur who acts as a volunteer CEO, a position most commonly filled by someone who is experienced in launching technology-based start-up companies. In addition to the CEO, the company is composed of a business development team of MBA students (coached by entrepreneurial faculty), a multidisciplinary technology development team of undergraduate engineers (coached by engineering faculty), and a legal team composed of students in the patent law program (coached by adjunct law school faculty). Funding for these projects has been secured through the Economic Development Administration, the Lemelson Foundation (via the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance), and the University of Florida. Several ITV technologies have been licensed and one start-up business has spawned.