YLAI alumni lead tech entrepreneurship boot camp for college students

Twenty-two engineering and industrial design students participated in a product design boot camp led by alumnus Emil Rodriguez.  Emil is a technology entrepreneur with a passion to promote invention and innovation in the Dominican Republic.

One of the biggest challenges he highlights is that most engineers and designers focus on providing tech support to already existing products, rather than becoming inventors and creating solutions to local needs. “Even though universities have been offering industrial design, electronic, mechatronic and mechanical engineering for a long time now, the number of companies doing research, development and new product design is very small. As a result, there are very few opportunities for these professionals who want to dedicate their careers to the development of new products to learn and get industry experience and internships.”

In 2016, Emil participated in the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) program, a professional fellowship that connects young entrepreneurs across western hemisphere. During his fellowship, Emil worked at Enventys, a product development, crowdfunding, and marketing agency in North Carolina. Through the Reverse Exchange, he and his host, Enventys Engineering and Design Manager Jeremy Losaw, developed a boot camp to promote entrepreneurship and innovation to undergraduate students in Santo Domingo.

For a week, the students engaged with Emil, Jeremy, and other local entrepreneurs to receive training on ideation, concept modeling, product engineering, prototype building, intellectual property, crowdfunding, and product launch.  The boot camp centered on developing solutions for growing and learning to care for household plants.  The students developed different prototypes of plant pots ranging from self-caring to interactive devices, to help potential customers learn to grow and better care for plants.  At the end of the boot camp, the students presented their prototypes and business plans to a panel of U.S. Embassy staff and other entrepreneurs.

About the YLAI program

The YLAI Professional Fellowship empowers entrepreneurs to strengthen their capacity to launch and advance their entrepreneurial ideas and effectively contribute to social and economic development in their communities. To learn more about the YLAI program visit ylai.state.gov