Michael Mancini, Ph.D., formerly the business development manager at VCU Innovation Gateway since 2017, is overseeing the VCU College of Engineering’s Capstone senior design program as its new director of project outreach.
Mancini, who also holds an affiliate faculty appointment as a professor of the practice in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, replaces Bennett (Ben) Ward, Ph.D., who has retired after directing Capstone Senior Design since 2016.
“Under Ben’s direction, our Capstone Design Expo has become a signature event, showcasing the spirit of innovation coupled with quality engineering that permeates our campus,” said Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., Alice T. and William H. Goodwin, Jr. Dean of VCU Engineering. “As an entrepreneur himself, Mike Mancini brings that same commitment to helping students convert their ideas into usable technologies, and to bring those technologies to commercialization. We are lucky to have him as a member of our faculty.”
Ward had grown the program by increasing projects funded by industry partners, collaborating with the VCU School of Business and developing close ties to collaborators from VCU Health.
Mancini is eager to build on that momentum. “I hope we’ll see even more industrial sponsored projects,” he said, adding that an organization that becomes a Capstone Senior Design sponsor could then keep working with the college on a “continuum of engagement” by becoming involved with a multi-year Vertically Integrated Projects team or offering internships for students.
In the field of law, Mancini said students learn theory at law school, but “when it comes to the practice of law, you’ll learn that on the job. You don’t learn that in the classroom.” In engineering, he said the Capstone Senior Design process gives undergraduate students important hands-on experience. “This is one of the first opportunities to apply what they've been learning over the last three to four years to a real-world problem.”
Mancini earned his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. He was a co-founder and the head of research and development for Spectropath, Inc., a medical device company spun out of Georgia Tech and Emory University that was formed to commercialize an image-guided cancer surgery platform, of which he is a co-inventor. Mancini is the author of several well-cited scientific publications, a named inventor on issued U.S. and foreign patents and a member of the VCU chapter of the National Academy of Inventors.
At Innovation Gateway, which facilitates commercialization of university inventions, Mancini managed a portfolio of pharmaceutical engineering and medical device technologies.