My team has been working with my alma mater to create an advanced consumer robotic prototype. This prototype is estimated to require 2 more years to develop and above $1 million if traditionally developed. Since we are not funded, we have a small team of 5 engineering students working on it for a few hours every week in their spare time. We are also participating in the NSF I Corps for customer discovery and are able to leverage a small amount of funds to help us pay for hardware costs.
Right now we are about a quarter way through expected development — Our virtual prototype is completed from a mechanical perspective and we are ready to start building out the physical prototype. However, we are at a major roadblock.
We are a team of mechanical & design engineers, and we cannot move forward without embedded, electrical, and software engineering students. We’ve been trying to recruit these students for over 6 months with no success. I know what you’re going to say. “Of course you can’t recruit them, you can’t pay them. What do you expect?”.
We are trying to raise some money through university and NSF-type programs, however, many of these funds don’t allow the money to go towards labor costs. There is a program at the university where a group of 4 students can work on your project for course credit, but the program costs $5k per semester. I know, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but we can’t even afford to do that yet.
We’re turning to this forum to ask you — either, are there more effective ways we can recruit EE, CE, students to our team to make it more appealing for them to work on the prototype as a project to add to their resume? Again, it’s worked out great for everyone with Mechanical engineers but not successful for the others.
What other programs are out there that we can apply to in order to get funded for labor?
Looking for ideas and solutions — please be easy on us, we are quite new to this. 🙂
Thanks in advance!