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Illinois Institute of Technology Student Priorities

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The University Innovation Fellows at Illinois Institute of Technology have discovered ample opportunities to advance our culture and services of innovation and entrepreneurship. Our current 2015 leadership circle of five hold a variety of backgrounds and majors, an advantage that reveals itself in the variety of strategic plans presented below. Informed by our work through the Landscape Canvass, a tool to evaluate the presence and distribution of innovative and entrepreneurial offerings at our university, we have developed the following strategies to nurture the creative potential of our campus.

Strategy #1: Finding Methods of Appeal to All Students That Introduce the Potential of Entrepreneurship

Team Leader: Callie Joncas 

Tactic 1: Integrate a Circuit of Exchange Between Students Throughout Campus

  • The opportunity to present ideas visually across campus is already available. But with a major focus mainly on only innovative projects that have already been fully developed, mostly through a program with specific guidelines and requirements. The display of a potentially marketable idea to a diverse audience may open up a window for unique feedback and constant advice. And as an entrepreneur would do in the real-world, this type of setting will require the student to develop a model for their product and attempt gain the interest of others for the acquirement of resources and sponsorship for making big change happen with the encouragement of others. This could be in the form of a weekly idea board that follows the theme of scenarios that relate to the experiences students have on campus that are frequent and in need of a solution. It could be an event that provides materials necessary for students to experiment and brainstorm openly while gaining skills in creative thinking, collaboration, and product development. Or it could even be something as simple as a weekly meeting for students and faculty to identify and agree on opportunities to innovate and integrate entrepreneurship into various aspects of campus that have areas in obvious need of improvement, and also could be pictured as evolving from the students viewpoint as a result of entrepreneurial themes.

Progressive Milestones

  • Investigation of target points of impact: completed with an enthusiastic and relevant faculty member along with interested peers - March 2015
  • Identification of target audience: completed with the opinion of peers and acknowledgement of common appeal - March 2015
  • Feedback from target audience - May 2015
  • Project preparation - October 2015
  • Building on our original idea - January 2016
  • Implementation onto university campus - 2016-2017

Tactic 2: An Interdisciplinary Course That Utilizes Current Events or Workplace Scenarios

  • The impact of a course that teaches students to think of solutions relative to what today's world demands and to acknowledge the expectations in a actual job setting could prove highly beneficial. The benefits could range from increased student motivation and excitement for fulfilling career goals to a deeper understanding of the importance of new ideas in bettering the systems and environments relative to the students’ major which will fuel the future. The collaboration involved will also put an important emphasis on the importance of peer feedback and consideration of others ideas to come to the most practical solutions. When the students ideas are tested in project form, they will also come to the realization of how crucial it is to search out potential flaws and acknowledge previous failures to learn what methods to avoid and how to design under constraints and specific techniques. This will provide training geared towards overcoming implications and meeting modern day performance standards. This will ultimately provide a bridge from college to the real-world.

Progressive Milestones

  • Curriculum overview:Talk with professors and identify an ideal classroom set-up to shape this course - March 2015
  • Discussion with sponsors and team members who are optimistic about the benefits of this course type - May 2015
  • Brainstorm a curriculum - October 2015
  • identify candidates of interest for this course - January 2016
  • Open up the idea to create awareness - February 2016
  • Launch a course following the set-up described - 2016-2017

Tactic 3: A Technological Platform That Serves an Important Function in On Campus-Life

  • An implementation of a network for the ease and benefit of students that carries easy accessibility and handles a multitude of functions could be appraised by any student.  This could potentially be a platform for information storage, scheduling and reminders, and even an idea pool for campus events, study strategies, and social gatherings. This could also be a good aid for helping keeping students notified about what’s been happening in the college community and easier awareness can be spread like wildfire about situations that demand immediate attention and action. Acknowledging the successful study strategies of  others  through a feedback loop could enhance the learning experience and give struggling students hope in finding new methods to help them gain a deeper understanding in abstract academic material.

Progressive Milestones

  • Get public appeal - March 2015
  • Define the primary function - May 2015
  • Acknowledge the set up - October 2015
  • Join with others to put things together - March 2016
  • Notify the target audience - April 2016
  • Fully implement the platform - 2017

Strategy #2: Introduction of New Infrastructure

Team Leader: Callie Joncas 

Tactic 1: Create a Hub in the Heart of an Area on Campus that Provides an Adaptable Environment that Allows Planning and Experimentation

  • If students could have a special zone on campus were an abundance and immediate access to tools for diagramming and mapping out future plans, students could greatly strengthen their powers of visual observation and display in a form that could also relay back to others who are intrigued by what they see in the ideas. This will also emphasize the importance of scaling products or ideas into the right size category and seeing design flaws first hand before the flaw becomes an implication on a potentially revolutionary new innovation. Structural analysis will also result from seeing an idea transformed into a 3D model as if it actually exists already as a prototype.

Progressive Milestones

  • Identify settings ideal for this hub - May 2015
  • Identify the surroundings that could fuel it - October 2015
  • Estimate the amount of time and resources needed to construct it - January 2016
  • Get peer opinion and appeal - February 2016
  • Invest or acquire the necessary items - May 2016
  • Complete the construction of this “visual idea center” - 2017

Tactic 2: Have a Workshop that Introduces Students to New and Upcoming Platforms in Technology and Design by Having Corporate Leaders Discuss and Display Upcoming Modern Innovations, While also Connecting Them with a Relative Project Framework and Potential Sponsors.

  • If students could be immersed with realities of innovation in relation to how our modern world is advancing, they could better understand the potential they have as future leaders and entrepreneurs alongside seeing firsthand what’s upcoming and how drastically these innovations can shape our future from the corporations point of view. Once students have the picture in their mind of the invention, they will think about what this will do for them in their everyday lives. Having a power figure in business or industry come and and talk ill give students the “once in a lifetime” experience feeling, they will feel as they have been given the gift of special knowledge and gain a sense of an entrepreneurial “destiny”. An ideal setting for this workshop would be an area on campus that already drives entrepreneurship and has constant student activity, such as the Idea Shop or the Stuart School of Business. If the students are left with a framework, they can better prioritize all the individual efforts involved with a project and set benchmarks to ensure they stay on top of what needs to ba accomplished in the cmoing months or years. With the tools to build bigger and better ideas in front of them, a student who has easy access to using them will realize the major opportunity right at hand. The sponsor will also be looked up to as a role model for the students, showing students that even ideas forming from the most far-out dreams are in reality not far from becoming something much greater.


  • Identify sponsors and leaders who create suitable products or have created a meaningful invention-May 2015
  • Identify an ideal location on campus-August 2015
  • Find students who are interested and willing to help set things up-September 2015
  • Have students test this workshop-January 2016
  • Have the workshop fully built-May 2016
  • Have the workshop in full operation and spurring innovation-January 2017

Strategy #3: Changing Course Curriculum

Team Leader: Bart Grabowski

Objective: At Illinois Institute of Technology we are blessed to have courses that provide hands-on “learning by doing” experiences such as the Interprofessional Projects or IPRO course. However, IPRO courses are primarily reserved for junior and senior level students who have a couple years of knowledge within their respective majors(s). The goal is to implement more entrepreneurial courses in all majors here at IIT to allow a greater balance among course schedules in order for students to benefit after their studies.

Tactic 1: Introduction of Entrepreneurship in First Year Courses

  • Students at IIT should be exposed to the ideas, principles, and other relevant works that fall under entrepreneurship and design thinking. In a student’s first year, IIT would provide a general course for all majors on what is entrepreneurship and how can it be applicable to your studies. Right off the bat, students will know guidelines to entrepreneurship and can benefit them in determining whether or not exploring entrepreneurship is the right path to go. Testing the waters, so to speak.

Progressive Milestones

  • Investigation of target points of impact- completed with an enthusiastic and relevant faculty member along with interested peers - March 2015
  • Identification of target audience - completed with the opinion of peers and acknowledgement of common appeal - March 2015
  • Feedback from target audience - April 2015
  • Project preparation - September 2015
  • Implementation onto university campus - 2016-2017

Tactic 2: Required Innovation, Design Thinking, Entrepreneurial course(s) in All Majors

  • Currently, IIT has implemented entrepreneurial courses in Engineering Management and of course Business. Students of all majors are allowed to take courses at the Stuart School of Business, but only count as elective courses. Essentially, IIT would implement courses that are innovation/entrepreneurial specific in the major that the student is studying. Courses would be structured from a learning-by doing basis and instructors would act as guidance for students. One important target point is that each department will structure such courses based upon the principles of the major and how entrepreneurship should be applied.

Progressive Milestones

  • Investigation of target points of impact- completed with an enthusiastic and relevant faculty member along with interested peers - April 2015
  • Identification of target audience - completed with the opinion of peers and acknowledgement of common appeal - May 2015
  • Feedback from target audience - June 2015
  • Project preparation - November 2015
  • Implementation onto university campus - 2016-2017 (subject to change)

Tactic 3: Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

  • Illinois Institute of Technology should encourage students to become more entrepreneurial driven for them be able to create the next successful product, service, and or idea. One way IIT could do this is apply school credit to entrepreneurial ventures. Students would receive additional credit for their projects and would allow for a greater balance among student schedules. Students would be able to manage their time more wisely because their ‘ventures’ would be recognized by the university and would be credited to their degree.

Progressive Milestones

  • Investigation of target points of impact- completed with an enthusiastic and relevant faculty member along with interested peers - April 2015
  • Identification of target audience - completed with the opinion of peers and acknowledgement of common appeal - March 2015
  • Feedback from target audience - April 2015
  • Project preparation - December 2015
  • Implementation onto university campus - 2016-2017, 2017-2018

Strategy #4: Leadership Seminars and Conferences Required by Course Instructors and Engineering Departments

Strategy Leader: Syeda Fatima

Objective: At Illinois Institute of Technology, there are various and some what random leadership seminars held throughout  the year on campus. Most of these leadership events are hosted by The Leadership Academy whose main target audience are its own Leadership Scholars, and the rest of the student population is forgotten. Even though these seminars are open to everywhere, most of the students who attend are the Leadership Scholars themselves, since it is a required component for remaining a scholar. After much research, I found that the speakers come from entrepreneurial backgrounds and can help in better IIT’s overall ecosystem. Therefore, the best way to get all students to attend these is by making them apart of the major curriculum. Students will be required to attend these seminars and in return receive a grade for them in their design related major courses.  Furthermore, engineering curriculums should also require their students to attend a conference or lecture during their undergraduate career which will help them gain a better grasp on entrepreneurship and innovation.

Tactic 1: IPRO 397 and 497 Make Attending at Least One of the Leadership Academy’s Monthly Seminars a Required Component of the Course.

  • IPROs at IIT are designed to introduce students to concepts of design thinking and product design. However, these courses don’t provide any guidance for launching their product or concept on the course ends. This is where the Leadership Academy’s seminars come in. The speakers are these seminar are usually entrepreneurs themselves and their lectures cover topics such as ethics and  how-to-lectures on launching good leadership in your work/university place. Making this a required course component will help students in taking the first step to becoming entrepreneurs
  • Progressive Milestones
    • Investigation of target courses who will be required to integrate these seminars into their curriculums-April 2015
    • Provide course instructors with specific seminars which will prove useful to their students-May 2015
    • Work with Leadership Academy to coordinate with IPRO curriculum-June 2015
    • Assist is tailoring speakers to fit the needs to the university Ecosystem- July 2015
    • Launch the integrated curriculum- August 2015
    • See how student feel about this integrated curriculum during midterm course evaluations- October to November 2015

Tactic 2: All Engineering Departments Should Make it Required for Students to Attend at Least Both One Entrepreneurial/ Innovation Themed Conference and Lecture Their Undergraduate Years.

  • IIT engineering programs offer various levels of design classes during a student’s senior year of college. However, the students just speed through these classes in order to finish the requirement and graduate, there isn’t much learning going on. Therefore, departments should make it required for students to attend one conference and lecture related to their major. These conferences (such as the RSNA for biomedical engineers) offer tons of knowledge and learning experiences for students which they won’t receive in the classroom. For example, the RSNA features the newest in MRI and Ultrasound machines as well as innovation opportunities for undergrads, to assist these companies through internships.
  • Progressive Milestones
    • Investigation of target lectures/ conferences that engineering professor  will be required to integrate into their course curriculums-April 2015
    • Provide course instructors with specific conferences or lectures  which will prove useful to their students-May 2015
    • Work with department heads  to coordinate  curriculum-June 2015
    • Assist department in  tailoring conferences and lectures  to fit the needs of the students - July 2015
    • Launch the integrated curriculum- August 2015
    • See how student feel about this integrated curriculum during midterm course evaluations- October to November 2015

Tactic 3: Each Engineering Department Should Create at Least One Entrepreneurial and Innovation Based Course specific to Their Department.

  • For example, biomedical engineering will have an entrepreneurial course which will teach students how to patent, launch and design their ideas. Since the goal of engineering is to innovate and design a better world, engineering graduates will most likely at least once in their careers encounter a situation in which they will need to design something. Thus, these engineers should have some prior knowledge as to how to go about launching and implementing their product. Taking a course doing their undergraduate years which teaches them just that will be extremely useful.
  • Progressive Milestones
    • Work with department heads  to coordinate  curriculum- April 2015
    • Assist department in  tailoring an entrepreneurial course to fit the needs of the students -May to July 2015
    • Launch the integrated curriculum- August 2015
    • See how student feel about this new course during midterm course evaluations- October to November 2015

Strategy #5: Pegasus Idea Exchange and Crowdfunding Network

Team Leader: Gabriel Conners

Overview: Pegasus is a crowdfunding network built on the momentum of an ecosystem of social support for student ideas. In our landscape canvass of 2015 at the Illinois Institute of Technology(IIT), we found a bell curve of support for innovation and entrepreneurship, where we had good opportunities in the areas of learning and experimenting, while we were found lacking in the outer categories of discovery, pursuit, and spin out. The ultimate and simple goal of Pegasus is to provide students with seed funding for their ideas, thus bolstering our ability to pursue ideas. In order to make this platform sustainable and highly visible, it must hold a foundation of self volunteering of content and a vibrant peer-to-peer idea exchange. This system of exchange will then contribute to the culture of discovery for innovation and entrepreneurship at IIT.

Tactic 1: Laying the Foundation of Storytelling

  • Achieve Visibility of Student Innovators (03/2015)
    • Identify and promote the innovative research, projects, and entrepreneurship currently happening on campus. 
    • Innovation Spotlights: weekly posting highlighting one student or team’s work
      • Online Spotlight blog created and shared through popular IIT digital channels (Facebook groups, twitter posts, communications emails, MyIIT Student Portal) 
      • Spotlight Posters in every building on campus
    • Crowdsource Idea Promotion, Acheive Sustainable Storytelling (08/2015)
      • Establish the culture and mechanisms that promote individuals to self-volunteer and share their “creative edge.”
        • Create and promote a public use “hastag” for all campus innovation and entrepreneurship
        • Solicit student suggestions for Spotlight features
        • Create live feed of student-submitted(or tagged) data

    Tactic 2: The Idea Exchange

    • Launch Platform to Facilitate Conversations on Student Ideas (Pegasus Idea Exchange) (10/2015)
      • ​Students can volunteer their ideas and projects and then comment, share, or otherwise have conversations on other student postings.
      • Add "Needs and Resources" Database (1/2016)
        • ​Students can more easily navigate and contribute input to ideas that solicit their skills or interests.
      • Add Team Formation functionality (1/2016)
        • Students collaborating on the Pegasus Exchange can form teams to more intensively critique and construct ideas.

      Tactic 3: A Horse and its Wings

      • Partner with or Build a Crowdfunding Platform into Pegasus (8/2016)
        • ​Leverage the social sharing community of Pegasus to promote ideas to broader funding bases. (Alumni, faculty, family, businesses, communities)
        • Relationship-Matching Algorithm (1/2017)
          • ​Develop a relationship matching algorithm to streamline student-idea discovery and team formation.
          • Integrate an Alumni interest database into Pegasus to improve relationship matching between student ideas and Alumni monies.
          • Map out interests and social missions of businesses to build into relationship matching algorithm so students know what organizations to target in solicitation of funding.

        Strategy #6: Competitions that Involve I&E and Symposiums that Give an Insight to Students of the Early Stages of a Startup

        Team Leader: Faizan Ahmad

        Objective: College is the place to make big changes in life. Students know that the job market is evolving. A lot of students do not want to work on a 9 to 5 job. A lot of students want to be entrepreneurs and have businesses of their own. However, they face problems in the early stages of their businesses. Our objective is to provide them an insight of how work is done in a professional environment. The purpose is to let them know what steps they need to take and what type of management they need to perform when commencing their businesses and startups. For instance, competitions like Startup, Pitch competitions, Lean Startup competitions and Hackathons will help them learn how they need to perform proactively within a team. This will help them understand how they should organize their efforts while developing a product. Symposiums are very important too. We could have somebody like Balaji Srinivasan come in and explain to students what he learnt about the early stages of his startup. This will make it easier to understand what procedures do entrepreneurs go through when starting a business. They can communicate their ideas and understand how entrepreneurs perform risk-analysis. This is essential as the first step is one of the hardest ones for any business.

        Tactic 1: Make attending such symposiums highly recommended and mandatory for those who are part of the entrepreneurship and related society on campus.

        • Entrepreneurship societies on campus, like College Entrepreneurial Organization at IIT, are a very effective way to communicating with students and allowing them to be part of related events. Introducing students to the symposiums is very important since students get a lot of information.

        Progressive Milestones

        • Investigation of targeted speakers who will come in for the symposiums -April 2015
        • Setting up dates of the events to be held.-May 2015
        • Informing the boards of the societies and clubs of the information of upcoming symposiums and convincing them make the attendance mandatory.-June 2015
        • Working with the leadership academy to coordinate the events.- July 2015
        • Launch the event- August 2015
        • Get survey to see how students feel about this- October to December 2015

        Tactic 2: Plan multiple competitions (HackIIT, Lean Startup at IIT) to be hosted by the University.

        • There are many societies at IIT that who attract students. The competitions can be coordinated with the help of the member of the societies. IIT has a great facility i.e The Idea Shop which acts as a working space and an incubator for IIT students. The Idea Shop can be used as the venue for such competitions. Companies like Microsoft and Cisco have sponsored Hackathons in the past. Students can also get their technology to work with.

        Progressive Milestones

        • Setting up the budget and dates for the events to be hosted and presenting it to the student board to be approved-April 2015
        • Contacting the companies and convince them for sponsorship.-May 2015
        • Approach the organizations to convince them to volunteer for the events.-June 2015
        • Work with different departments to reserve spaces for event to be held and coordinate the events.-July 2015
        • Launch the events - August 2015
        • Get surveys and reviews by the students of how they feel about the events.- October to November 2015

        Related Links

        Illinois Tech Campus Overview

        Illinois Tech Innovation Fellows