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Innovation and Entrepreneurship Strategic Priorities for the Colorado School of Mines


​Vision for the Colorado School of Mines

Spring 2016

Spring 2017

Short-Term Strategy: Sparking Interest

Enable students by creating a collaborative space for creativity, design, and innovation.


1. Foster ideas, collaboration and creativity for students of all disciplines.

2. Create and sustain a culture of doing, making, innovation and entrepreneurship.

3. Promote learning-by-doing and provide resources to enable students to transform ideas into products that could be commercialized.

Many of the most forward-thinking companies provide spaces for employees that encourage innovation. Well-designed spaces often serve as catalysts for enhanced collaboration and innovation. We will create collaborative spaces for students that allow for greater creativity, design and innovation on campus. By holding events and meetings in the spaces, students across all disciplines will begin to use the spaces to work with others' projects.

In addition to having a few dedicated spaces, there are several common areas on campus that would make excellent pop-up spaces. We will provide guides and resources for students to successfully create a temporary collaborative space of their own anywhere on campus.

Mechanical Engineering Design Lab

In collaboration with Professor Jered Dean of Mechanical Engineering, the senior design lab has evolved into a collaborative workspace for student projects, meetings, workshops and classes. The space has open hours, allowing students from every major and grade level to collaborate on academic or personal projects.


There will be a trial run for a MakerSpace to be implemented on campus. If this space is a success, the Mines UIF leadership circle will analyze feedback around the space and try to implement a permanent building for design thinking, innovation, and entrepreneurship with a floor dedicated to being a functional MakerSpace.

Establish regular Design, Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (DICE) events

By collaborating with organizations and faculty across campus, we will hold events that expose students to proven concepts and principles that lead to truly innovative solutions. Having regular events will help foster a community of innovation and entrepreneurship that doesn't often occur in a traditional lecture setting. 

Leveraging existing student organizations to put on DICE events

There are numerous campus organizations (SWE, AIChE, SPE, EWB, Tau Beta Pi, Blue Key) that have the resources to organize successful DICE events to increase opportunities for student innovation. These events could include makeathons, hackathons, design challenges, business model competitions, and many more.

An Entrepreneurship Club has recently been established by the Mines student body that has been key partners in developing events to promote innovation and entrepreneurship.

Problem of the Week

To change the student mindset on campus, we will start holding pop-up meetings in high-traffic areas to discuss a "Problem of the Week." We will increase exposure to, and engagement with, problem-focused design by allowing students the ability to stop by and participate without any major commitment. The pop-up meetings can be expanded to allow for low-resolution prototyping, using arts and crafts or video. Images from the pop-up events will be posted online. The pop-up meetings will also serve as advertisement for other DICE events.

Design Weekend

Currently, there is no coordination between EPICS and other design courses across campus to exhibit student projects; that needs to change. A campus-wide exhibition, open to the community, will provide students from all disciplines with the opportunity to showcase their projects, and also strengthen the culture of design, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship on campus.


Previously, University Innovation Fellows have seen success in improving the innovation and entrepreneurial landscape on their campuses by hosting a TEDx event. A lot of student interest in TED already exists, and this interest can be leveraged to make a successful event to serve as inspiration for the university. A TEDx event can be focused on innovation and entrepreneurship, to inspire a campus community, by showcasing examples of innovative faculty research, successful entrepreneurial alumni and current students who have commercialized technology and achieved positive economic, societal and environmental impact.

3 Day Startup: 3DS Springboard 

3DS Springboard is an interactive workshop focused on the beginning steps of launching a company or a project through on-campus innovation. During four 90-minute sessions over one week, students will learn-by-doing with the 3DS team, Epicenter University Innovation Fellows leaders on campus, and other students in the community who are passionate about starting something!

Promoting Creativity and Mental Health

Creativity / De-stress Zone

By creating a space on campus where students can find resources to stimulate the creative, right side of their brains, we will increase both creativity and mental health on campus. In this space, students will find board games, puzzles, art supplies, instruments and other resources to de-stress and create. 

Next Steps: Institutional Acceptance and Support for DICE

Update design classes to incorporate modern design & development principles

Most students attending Mines are exposed to design in EPICS I, EPICS II (including Department-Specific EPICS II) and Senior Design. Only a few of the curriculums incorporate the following ideas/processes widely practiced in the industry: design-thinking, problem-focused design, rapid and low-resolution prototyping, fast failure and lean principles. Incorporating all of these practices into the curriculum would properly prepare students to develop truly innovative solutions to real problems. The design courses could allow for more creativity and innovation by shifting from constraining projects to open-ended, problem-based projects. 

Grow and expand the academic entrepreneurship offering

According to the Undergraduate Bulletin, there is an “Area of Special Interest (ASI) in Entrepreneurship” that consists of 3 classes that are not currently offered.

To demonstrate that entrepreneurship is a priority to the University and the Department of Economics and Business, the ASI needs to be updated and promoted. There are several course offerings focused on design-thinking and entrepreneurship that should be incorporated into a certificate program, minor or area of special interest for entrepreneurship.

Ideally, the entrepreneurship program would incorporate a multidisciplinary senior design alternative course that allows students from any major to apply principles from the engineering and entrepreneurship curriculums.

The recent courses added to the Mines community includes:

  • Technology Entrepreneurship
  • Intro to Entrepreneurship

Creation of Grand Challenges Themed Learning Community

Mines requires all first-year students to live on campus in the residence halls. Programs that promote design, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship can be put in place for interested students living on campus. Mines has several themed learning communities, and a community focused on the NAE's Grand Challenges would have a large impact in creating a sustainable culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.

The community is in its second year on campus and is thriving. The students in this community have a tight bond created through floor activities as well as an engineering design and ethics course where the students have many opportunities to work together to solve varying problems. This program has also served as a resource for students who wish to become from active in the entrepreneurial community.

Establish a speaker series for design, innovation and entrepreneurship

Creating a regular speaker series focused on design, innovation and entrepreneurship will develop interest, as well as connect the entrepreneurial community within Mines to current students in other disciplines. Many Mines alum and faculty have relevant experience and insight, which could inspire a new generation of makers, doers and entrepreneurs. A series focused on I&E would be a multidisciplinary initiative that would have wide-spread support across campus, due to the universal nature of I&E principles.

Innovation Challenge

Mines' first Innovation Competition took place in Spring 2016. 10 teams were awarded money to begin prototyping in hopes of starting their own company or patenting their design.

Business Workshop

A business workshop will be taking place in Spring 2016 that works through the business model canvas with groups of students that have a product or idea for a company.

Mental Health on Campus

No Work Zone

One idea we are currently pursuing is the creation of a "No Work Zone." This would be a place for students on campus to take a break and relax. Mines is a highly esteemed engineering school which promotes intense focus on academics. Many study and design areas are located around campus. We don't any of these spaces to be taken away, but we do want a new space to be implemented.

Our goal for this space is to make mental health a bigger priority on campus. Students commonly express their levels of stress, but there are not many resources on campus to help combat the high pressure work environment.

Currently, we are acquiring feedback on this initial idea to see if it would be feasible, and more importantly if it would benefit students. After thhis period, we plan to take the idea to stakeholders on campus.

Long-term Vision

Create a multidisciplinary Design, Innovation and Entrepreneurship institute

The establishment of a multidisciplinary design institute will allow for the creation of a modern engineer that is equipped to develop solutions to complex real-world problems. Having a design institute would make Mines the premier institution for engineering and applied-science education.

Many of the nation's best engineering schools have a program or institute for design, innovation or entrepreneurship:

Stanford -
MIT - Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship
Harvard - Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard (TECH)
UC Berkeley - Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology
Michigan - Center for Entrepreneurship
Georgia Tech - Enterprise Innovation Institute
North Carolina State - Engineering Entrepreneurs Program EEP
Illinois - Technology Entrepreneurship Center 
CU Boulder - eship program

The Colorado School of Mines has the opportunity to become a national leader for design, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Related Links

Colorado School of Mines Wiki Page

Colorado School of Mines University Innovation Fellow - Corey Brugh

Colorado School of Mines University Innovation Fellow - Daniel Dickason

Colorado School of Mines University Innovation Fellow - Tara Maestas

Colorado School of Mines University Innovation Fellow - Asya Sergoyan

Colorado School of Mines University Innovation Fellow - Nicholas Yuan

Colorado School of Mines University Innovation Fellow - Trevor Clevenger

Colorado School of Mines University Innovation Fellow - Sarah Ingram

Colorado School of Mines University Innovation Fellow - Emma May

Colorado School of Mines University Innovation Fellow - Tanner McAdoo

Colorado School of Mines University Innovation Fellow - Samuel Warfield