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NC State University Student Priorities

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Strategy #1: Collaboration to Spark Action

Tactic #1: Ideation Workshops

  • Description:  These workshops would either happen annually or once a semester.  A good example of what these workshops would be like, and the first attempt at one of these workshops on NC State's campus, is 3DS Springboard.  Again, these workshops are meant to appeal to any student, from any discipline, who is looking to start a project, movement, product, etc. The overarching goals of them would be to spark ideas and create relationships between students of different majors, while the more specific goal of the workshops is to teach students entrepreneurial and creativity skills.

Tactic #2: Biweekly Dinners at the Entrepreneur's Village

  • Description: Food is a least common denominator for people's needs and is something that most college students gravitate towards.  The goal of these dinners would be to bring a variety of students together by making it appeal to people with different interests.  Unlike most meetings, these dinners would not have a specific topic or be targeted towards a certain group of students.  While they would take place in the Entrepreneur's Village, they wouldn't have a focus on entrepreneurship, but rather innovation, creation, and making an impact.  In order to facilitate inspiring conversation, certain creative/entrepreneurial/design/etc. thinking activities would take place. The activity that takes place would be determined by the group of students that attend each dinner so that it is most relevant to what they are looking to get out of the dinner.

Tactic #3: Annual University-Wide "Demo Day"

  • Description:  Many different groups and departments around campus have their own ways of showcasing students' work; however, most of these showcases are limited to people who are a part of the individual group or a competition, and that restricts the amount of groups that get to showcase their work.  This annual demo day would be an opportunity for all students with varying kinds of projects (from musical performances and paintings to apps and robots) to show their hard work and appreciate the work of students from other backgrounds. There would be no competition aspect to this event, as the goal of it is to encourage and applaud all students' work and create interdisciplinary relationships/connections. 

Strategy #2: Creating an Impact that Lasts

Tactic #1: Student Accelerator/Bridge Program

  • Description: There are some opportunities for students to form and build entreprenuerial ventures, but a majority of students working on ventures are upperclassmen that are close to graduating.  Once someone has graduated from NC State, they no longer have access to the support and resources provided by the university which makes it much more difficult to continue on with their ventures.  Initially, building strong partnerships in the local area will help provide students with support.  Key partnerships could be formed/improved with Thinkhouse Raleigh, HQ, Groundworks Labs, and Triangle Startup Factory.   Eventually, some sort of accelerator that partnered specifically with NC State would be most effective in giving the support students need.

Tactic #2: Alumni Panel Discussions and Mentorship

  • Description:  For some students, it is difficult for them to see themselves being actual entrepreneurs.  Even students that are involved in courses and other activities sometimes view their work as more of a project as opposed to something that they could continue doing as an alternative to getting a job.  In order to combat students only seeing their entrepreneurial/innovative work as projects, we will organize events with alumni (especially recent graduates/drop outs) who are working on their startups full time.  This will help students better realize the feasibility of continuing on with their work after university. These events with alumni could form into more of a mentorship model where the alumni act as personal and professional mentors for current students.

Tactic #3: Opportunities for Funding on Campus

  • Description: Many students who are working on entrepreneurial ventures and projects lack some of the resources, especially funding, to take their work farther.  There are some ways for students to get funding through the campus, such as a few research grants and the Lulu eGames; however, these are only available once or twice a year and only to a very limited amount of students.  There are better options for funding outside the university; however, I think the university can do a better job of providing students with the funding they need.  One way would be to set up some sort of grant or fellowship that students can apply for more frequently throughout the year so they can get funding when they need it.  Another way would be to set up a crowdfunding platform specifically for the NC State community.  This would allow students to test their idea in the market, get funding when they need it, and it wouldn't require a large sum of money the same way providing grants would.

Related Links

North Carolina State University

NC State University UI Fellow, Natalia von Windheim