The BioTech Virtual Enterprise Guides
The STEM-based Virtual Enterprise, or STEM-VE for short, applies the Virtual Enterprise construct to specific STEM areas (currently IT and BioTechnology). It is generally branded as vexy, for STEM area xy (such as veit and vebiotech). It is offered in three manners:
- vexy-Careers: Students form several enterprises that serve different niches within their discipline (such as IT for a hospital, IT for a college, IT for a bank). The simulation centers around staffing their group, seeking problems specific to their industry, and creating rudimentary solutions. The focus is on the breadth of careers and the types of problems handled at fundamentally different institutions.
- vexy-Awareness: An abbreviated version of the Careers course used with non-majors in Institute or Workforce Training modalities. The students describe solutions and products within the STEM discipline, but unlike in (1) do not take the steps towards a limited implementation of said plans. This allows for the inclusion of students with a limited disciplinary background; these students can be excited about and recruited to the STEM area.
- vexy-Projects/Capstone: Students form an enterprise that develops a novel product or service. The simulation centers around the understanding the consumer, designing the product and planning for its implementation, and developing marketing materials.
Implementers' resources for the pedagogy can be found below. The "START HERE" document explains how to make use of them.
An Example of the BioTechnology VE Run as Standalone Course
Seasoned Biology majors formed the "GenBioTech VE". The students reviewed various diseases for which no cures yet existed, but where progress had been made. In the end, the team settled on the Niemann-Pick type C1, an autosomal recessive disorder. The instructor provided some guidance about the particular activity of the disorder and the techniques involved in making a promising drug (this involved discussions about PCR, restriction digestion and ligation, transformation, cloning, transfection, and tissue culture). Once a research methodology had been established the students planned for short-term (grants) and long-term (venture capital) funding for their injectible drug. The staffing of the R&D enterprise was simulated, and the students picked locations to carry out both the short-term research and long-term production. Long term plans, including those for FDA trials were developed. Then, engaging in a bit of time-compression to show the breadth of the long drug-development process, the students fast-forwarded to the time when the naming, pricing, and marketing efforts occur. The biology and business behind this drug were presented by the students to a panel of Biology faculty attending a conference at the College to learn more about Virtual Enterprise. The students proudly explained and defended their concepts.