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GVSU Student Priorities

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The GVSU Innovation Fellows realize that there are many great resources for entrepreneurs in Grand Rapids, GVSU downtown campus, and exclusive clubs and groups. Additionally, there are many opportunities to pitch business plans and look for funding. That being said, there are limited opportunities at Grand Valley to be introduced to design thinking outside of the classroom. There aren’t safe spaces to play around with new ideas, collaborate without pressure, or connect with people in different areas of study. The GVSU Honors College is bursting with potential. We hope to introduce better methods to inspire young, innovative Grand Valley students, across disciplines, to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, and make innovation a key aspect of campus culture. Afterwards, we want to develop a communication pipeline so that good ideas can be nurtured, grown, and developed through collaboration.

Opportunity Focus

  • Few opportunities for students to experience the design process outside of coursework.
  • The I&E resources in the Business College are not readily available to students of all departments.
  • Create a more inclusive environment where students can collaborate and share ideas.
  • Lack of events, idea pitches, or competitions that encourage students to pursue individual exploration and experimentation with the design thinking process.
  • Lack of campus support around increasing awareness and familiarity with innovation and design thinking.

Strategy One: Collaboration Space [12 months]

In order to promote a collaborative environment where students feel comfortable sharing their ideas and giving feedback, we would like to pursue reinventing a current space to make it collaboration-focused. This can take a variety of formats. Incorporating technology, providing prototyping materials, and utilizing previously unused space would be some easy ways to create a collaboration space within the Honors College. Our hope is that students will make this a common place to work on projects and hold meaningful discussion. Because there are many underused spaces within this building, we feel like it has the potential to become a great working environment that can foster change within our community.


Strategy Two: Business and Entrepreneurship Collaboration [24 months]

GVSU has a new major as of 2017, the entrepreneurship major. This major is in the business college and therefore, like all business majors a Grand Valley, requires the business capstone class. In addition, all senior engineering students are assigned a two semester senior project immediately before they graduate. We believe that for some of the senior projects it would be beneficial to assign them a entrepreneurship/business major to write business plans, run finances, etc to determine if the design project would make a viable business.

This would not only encourage collaboration between colleges but would also give students a sense of how products are designed in the real world. This would also introduce business concepts to the engineering students and technology to the business students.

If we see success in this program, possibly utilizing a style similar to the Purdue EPICS program, it can be expanded to include other colleges and majors.


Strategy Three: EDU Share Night (8-20 Weeks]

There are eight separate colleges at GVSU, and there is very little collaboration between them. In hopes of gathering people from all majors and fields, we believe it would be a good idea to create an open event that crosses the traditional boundaries in pursuit of innovation.

EDU Share Night focuses on open access for all students. It provides a space and audience in which students, faculty, and staff can share their interests and passions. The event would focus on presentations. Whether fully formed, such as a formal paper, artistic piece, or speech, or only beginning, like a startup idea, novel concept, or scientific study hypothesis, all GVSU affiliates would be welcome to share, receive feedback, and connect with experts in their study area. All of the colleges at Grand Valley specialize in a particular field, which would be helpful in creating a diverse group of people with whom a student could brainstorm with or get help on a project with.

The biggest limitations of this idea are interest, and sustainment. Promotion would need to occur to gather student interest at each of the colleges. Due to the lack of visibility in the honors college, it would be essential to promote effectively. A poor turnout for the first event would discourage attendees from returning should it be held again. Secondly, sustainment of the collaborative process after the event will be difficult. We are still developing a safe, useful option for event participants to stay in contact, stay involved, and continue to pursue their passions after the EDU Share Night.


Strategy Four: “Help Wanted” Communication Board [6-9 months]

While GVSU is home to many students who are working on interesting projects and developing new ideas, there is not a dedicated space for sharing takeaways from projects, or recruiting help from people with similar interests. To solve this problem, we would like to create a communication hub in Grand Valley’s Honors College. Similar to a ‘help wanted’ section in a newspaper, this hub would be a place for students to share about their current endeavors, and will act as a source of inspiration and connection for students across campus. We would like to have a physical hub for the board so it has a presence on campus, as well as a digital component so people could access the board from any location. The board would not only offer a space to ask for help, but would also allow for comments, allowing users to connect different ideas, ask questions, and provide overall advice and feedback.

Strategy Five: Freshmen Check-In [8 months]

Within the Honors Living and Learning Center, it can be very difficult for freshmen students to get connected to others and the community. By holding an event the night before winter semester classes, freshmen would have a chance to make more connections with each other in a more relaxed setting. After having a semester under their belts, they would be more comfortable and have more in common with the people in their buildings. There is a potential to have food, icebreakers, and games to give freshmen incentive to come. We would also ask them to fill out a questionnaire; questions may include what they are enjoying about their classes, what they want to improve, and what they are already involved in on campus. This questionnaire would hopefully give us a better understanding of how to improve the freshman experience.


Strategy Six: Sequence Collaboration [12 months]

As stated before there are many opportunities within the Grand Valley community especially within the Honors Program.  But where it make up in opportunities there is also a disconnect between many of the students.  As many of them do not know the people around them and just live in their own world.  This is where the Sequence Collaboration or Syncquence would come into play.  In the program there are a select few classes named sequences which are usually taken during the freshman year.  The idea of this project would be to pair up the sequences having them compete over the span of a week working to solve a given problem that is assigned at the beginning.  The goal for this project would be to have students get to know each other and make connections while they are learning about the innovation process as they work to solve the problem assigned.  At the end of the project we would host a large event where the students would select some group members to present their project to their fellow classmates and a few judges who would hand out prizes to the top three competitors.  Hopefully in the end it would be able to fulfill the desired goals that were stated before and with the feedback that has been received so far about the program it looks like completing the goals will not be an issue.  


Completed Projects


On February 24, 2017, GVSU hosted their first TEDx event themed “The Blueprints between X and Why.” A limited amount of tickets were available for purchase, with the event also being live-streamed in the library. The second TEDxGVSU event is scheduled for March 16, 2018 with the title “Shape.”

Related Links


2017 Fellows:





2016 Fellows:

Allison Rogutich

Ben Parsell

Joe VanderBroek

Nikhil Watsa

2015 Fellows:


2014 Fellow:

Kathryn Christopher

Leah Bauer