Tennessee Technological University
Student Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Tennessee Technological University is an upbeat campus populated with students who work to make a positive impact on their world daily. Numerous on-campus resources exist for students interested in innovation and entrepreneurship, and these resources offer services and access to students from disciplines across the campus.
Venues available for I&E oriented student interaction include the business and engineering living-learning villages, 20+ student organizations fostering I&E mindsets, and the iCube & iMakerspace where students and faculty imagine, inspire, and innovate. Located on the 3rd floor of the Volpe library, the 6,000 square foot iCube and iMakerspace facility provides students and faculty with access to virtual reality and immersive experience technologies (Oculus Rift and Vis-Box), 3-D printers, and shop tools for innovative design and prototyping. These spaces truly enable all Tech students to bring their dreams to life through hands-on design, experimentation, and interdisciplinary collaboration.
This innovative campus spirit is strengthened within the business and engineering curricula through courses focusing on real world applications. These courses, including CHE 4410 Process Design, CHE 4661 Transport in Biochemical and Biological Processes, and BMGT 4930 Business Strategy, show students how to work with theoretical design models and develop economic & marketing strategies for their ventures. MKT 4900 provides students interested in I&E with the opportunity to participate in innovative activities through experiential learning as taught by local entrepreneurs. Additionally, this course prepares students for the campus wide Eagle Works business pitch competition held every spring.
The newest I&E course piloted Fall 2015, Clinical Immersion at Disciplinary Interfaces, synergizes the minds of nursing and chemical engineering students to develop solutions for health care innovation. Over the semester, students explore the local hospital and interview health care providers to identify problems and develop solutions which fit the needs expressed through these experiences. At the end of the course, each team composed of nursing and chemical engineering students present their projects and prototypes to a panel of faculty and I&E professionals from the community.
Interest is also found at events like Tedx Nashville and E-Week. Tedx Nashville is a yearly event recently supported by the Dean’s Office, which promotes student attendance by purchasing student tickets. E-week is a national event in which many universities participate. During the event, various engineering majors are brought together and pitted against each other in competitions.Even if you are not a business or engineering major, there is still plenty to take part in, such as the recent Research, Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum where speakers from the NSF gave talks to faculty and students regarding I&E.
UPDATE 4/18/2016: The Tennessee Board of Regents just recently approved an I&E certificate to be completed in conjunction with any undergraduate bachelors degree. We are so excited this opportunity has been approved for our students and cannot wait to award these certificates!
Faculty Innovation & Entrepreneurship
The teaching faculty at Tech is extremely involved with real world innovation. Many professors currently perform research which they plan to develop into a product in the future, and others have already started companies through their research.
Along with this environment of start-ups, there is a movement forming which promotes innovation directly. With the help of VentureWell, faculty members attended a workshop in February 2014 where they received training similar to that which the University Innovation Fellows receive.
This same group of faculty also promotes the creation of a new major on campus. This pathway of study would combine aspects of the business and engineering curricula to create an area of study for students interested in entrepreneurship specifically.
Faculty also participate in courses provided by the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, where cross-disciplinary approaches to I&E are discussed and presented.
University Technology Transfer Function
The Biz Foundry is a local business accelerator in Upper Cumberland Tennessee, partnered with Launch Tennessee. The organization focuses on building a startup community which nurtures local talent, innovation, and entrepreneurs in order to create a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem. The accelerator program pairs startups with mentors and investors to aid with business model development.
The Biz Foundry, located across the street from campus, is a place for students and faculty to ask questions related to start-up ventures. To aid in these start-up ventures, the Biz Foundry holds 24 Hour Launch events for students to bring their ideas to the next level of development.
Tech also houses a Small Business Development Center for students regional entrepreneurs seeking improve on their innovative ideas. The center provides local business internships to students and host business seminars covering a wide range of topics dealing with innovation and entrepreneurship.
With the aid of grants, such as the National Science Foundation's Innovation Corps (I-CorpsTM), the amount of research on Tech's campus is expected to grow significantly over the next few years. More and more faculty are partnering with industry to turn their research into marketable products.
Thanks to these grants, the iCube and iMakerspace, and help from external organizations like the Biz Foundry, local businesses from the near-by cities of Nashville and Knoxville now have a place to discuss the research happening at TN Tech.
Regional & Local Economic Development Efforts
TN Tech is located in the small town of Cookeville, TN. The campus itself is one of the biggest aspects of the town and is subsequently a large contributor to the local economy. Besides the fact huge amounts of money come from students that buy things from the local businesses, there is also a lot of community service which takes place.Events like the Relay for Life bring in tens of thousands of dollars for cancer research every spring, and university and roadside clean-ups coordinated by Greek life organizations keep the city clean.
Due to Cookeville's location in the center of three of Tennessee's major cities (Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga), it is often a meeting ground for innovation. Much work is done between these four cities to bring businesses from across the country to the increasingly innovative state of Tennessee.
The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Committee also launched the "Rural Reimagined" initiative to challenge students to use their I&E skills to improve rural life. These projects include expanding healthcare access, internet access and other vital resources to the underserved populations of the Upper Cumberland.
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Tennesse Technological University
University Innovation Fellows
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