Ed Dougherty, director of the Engineering Entrepreneurship program at Villanova University, business owner, and creator of several commercialized products, exemplifies the entrepreneurial mindset. 4 Going Pro Engineering extraordinary value W hat could be more exciting than watching the big game from a front row seat? How about weaving through the action from the comfort of your couch? The aerial sports camera has made this possible. The original aerial camera system known as Skycam soars directly above athletes and spectators, suspended by four high-strength, Kevlar-wrapped, fiber optic cables, capturing unparalleled, real-time views. “Skycam is the only camera in major sports to cross the boundaries and enter the field of play,” ESPN Sunday Night Football producer Jay Rothman says in an endorsement of the system. “The viewer experiences being in the action of the NFL.” Skycam won both Emmy and Academy awards for the liveliness it brings to the sports and entertainment industries, but it has its limitations. Expensive manufacturing costs limit the number of systems that have been produced. Skycam is used primarily for high-profile, live events such as major NFL games and the Olympics. The cost of use can exceed $100,000 per event. Moreover, Skycam’s main source of revenue is limited to a live video feed. Ed Dougherty, an assistant professor of engineering at Villanova, knows Skycam inside and out as a result of his long-time engineering work on the development team. A champion of entrepreneurial engineering, Dougherty saw these limitations as an opportunity to create extraordinary value. He re-imagined the original, envisioning a complimentary camera system that could generate multiple sources of revenue, as well as meet specifications to be low-cost, permanently installed, adaptable to indoor and outdoor settings, available at all times, and easy to operate. “A product has extraordinary value when you see it’s a win for everyone,” Dougherty says. “The customer is happy to have it and pay for it, the salesperson makes money on it – all down the line to the inventor.” Dougherty started with a sketch of an inverse Stewart platform by using six strings to move the camera as a marionette. In two days, he built a prototype in his basement using cardboard, string, and straws to test the concept. Over the next two weekends, he built a more robust prototype with an old camera and © Villanova University Barbara Johnston