Students in Virginia Tech’s Executive MBA program in metro Washington, D.C., were given an opportunity this summer to evaluate patents held by The Aerospace Corporation and make recommendations to company executives on the best ways of commercializing them.

Ed Swallow, vice president of Vaeros, a division of Aerospace, said he was impressed with the students’ team presentations and came away with action points from each of them.

One immediate result: Swallow is taking one portfolio recommendation directly to the CIO to see if there is potential for a swap with a supplier that would cut costs in return for access to new technologies.

“I found that the students had a true diversity of thinking and a fresh look at the information,” said Swallow after listening to all the presentations. “I was looking for a way to get independent eyes on our technology portfolio and working with Virginia Tech really created a win-win situation.”

He said that the patents — not so technical that nontechnical students wouldn’t understand them — were those that Aerospace had not yet engaged with because they fall into unfamiliar markets.

“We wanted to know whether there was a real market for the portfolios,” Swallow explained. “I expected to see one or two recommendations that would seem too farfetched to be real, but in fact all were realistic, had reasonable valuations, and a strong approach to the market.” Read more