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University of Delaware Student Priorities

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2016 Cohort Student Priorities

Project Pitch Video

Encouraging Collaboration Between Engineering and Business Students

Engineers tend to be interested in innovation, but do not have an interest in entrepreneurship. They would rather pass this responsibility on to someone else. This separation of interests is not inherently problematic, as members of teams typically have different areas of expertise. Engineering and business students can have great success founding companies together. The issue on campus is that there is very little collaboration between these fields. Technical clubs and business clubs rarely interact.

A project that can help tackle the issue would be to form an Innovation Council. This council would exist to share opportunities between the many clubs that otherwise do not interact. The council would meet once per month in a setting where members from different registered student organizations (RSOs) could meet each other and make connections. The council could also establish a showcase session, at the beginning of each year, where different groups can present their projects to potential collaborators. While a detailed timeline remains to be established, the project can be implemented over Spring 2015.

Project 1: Innovation Council to Organize Innovation Centric RSOs

To implement this project, the steps that need to be taken are:

  1. Identify RSOs that would be interested in being part of the Innovation Council
  2. Reach out to RSOs leaders to present our case
  3. Identify schedules of each RSO to come up with a date and time where maximum people from each RSO can attend a common meeting
  4. Present the objective of the Innovation Council to RSO members at the first common meeting
  5. From the first common meeting, identify the needs of each RSO group that could benefit from a collaboration
  6. From the first common meeting, establish (or refute) the perceived benefit of the Innovation Council, based on feedback from RSO members and leaders
  7. Proceed with the formation and registration of the Innovation Council, and establish a location, time and day of monthy meetings, based on the information from steps above
  8. Establish metrics (number of people attending each meeting, number of collaborations between different RSOs) and an online database to collect meeting minutes, which would help with continual validation of the Innovation Council

Encouraging engineering students to take entrepreneurship courses

Through our interviews and research for the University Innovation Fellowship (UIF) program, we identified multiple course offerings related to entrepreneurship and technology innovation. What we found, however, is that the number of engineering students taking these courses was very limited.

Investigating the issue further, we found that courses related to entrepreneurship and technology innovation would typically be classified as "breadth electives" for an engineering student. Next, we checked the college of engineering breadth requirement list for the most recent year. We finally realized that entrepreneurship and technology innovation courses were not explicitly included on the list, while a lot of other courses were specifically included on the list. The result was that it was not clear whether or not courses related to entrepreneurship and technology innovation count towards breadth requirements, and students generally resorted to selecting breadth electives from courses that were explicitly mentioned on the list.

We presented our findings at the stakeholder meeting, and we found that the undergraduate director for biomedical engineering had been working on clarifying and modifying breadth requirements. To that end, we would like to work towards inclusion of entrepreneurship courses in the breadth electives list, which should encourage students with an interest in the field to take those courses. While a detailed timeline remains to be established, the project can be implemented over Winter 2015.

Project 2: Inclusion of entrepreneurship courses in the engineering breadth electives list. 

To implement this project, the steps that need to be taken are:

  1. Reach out to the undergraduate director for biomedical engineering, to evaluate the steps taken so far, related to the project
  2. Reach out to the Director of the Horn Program in Entrepreneurship to verify the courses that would be most useful for engineering students
  3. Reach out to the Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Services to present the issue
  4. Collect and evaluate feedback about the reasons why or why not the entrepreneurship courses can be included in the breadth electives list
  5. Identify steps that need to taken to officially change the breadth electives list for the next academic semester and year
  6. Now that this is active, promote it so students. Sent emails advertising different entrepreneurship courses and how they can be used as breadth electives. 

Eliminating Fear of Judgment

Through our interviews, we found that many students on campus have a fear of judgment. For example, students during a lecture will not answer questions even though they might know the answer. This happens because they fear being judged, in case they are wrong. This fear also seems to translate into not coming up and/or expressing new innovative ideas. The students fear that others may think their idea is silly or will not work. We think that an environment that allows students to express themselves would be helpful to promote flow of ideas and discussions.

To that end, we would like to propose that a "20,000 pitches" day be held on campus. The idea would be to encourage students to speak about either an idea they are passionate about, or a problem they would like to solve. The next step would be identify the top passions and ideas expressed through a voting system for campus students, and grouping students based on common themes. This would lay the groundwork for elimating fear of judgement, increasing interdisciplinary participation, and increasing enthusiasm for identifying problems and implementing solutions. While a detailed timeline needs to be established, the project can be implemented over Spring 2015.

Project 3: Set up a "20,000 pitches" day on campus. 

To implement the project, the steps that need to be taken are:

  1. Collect feedback pertaining to the project from the stakeholder meeting
  2. Establish steps that need to be taken to implement the idea
  3. Discuss the pros and cons of establishing the event online vs. in person, during classes on campus, for example
  4. Identify members from faculty and administration who would need to be enlisted for organizing the event
  5. Work on logistics for implementing the project, and a timeline
  6. Establish steps that need to be taken to collect and disperse information across campus.
  7. After the first successful 20,000 pitches day last spring, hold one again - make it a recurring event. 

Fostering an Environment of Influence Among Peers

It is a known fact that environment has a large influence on students and the way they approach activities outside of the classroom. Focusing on the environment on campus, we believe that students need to be surrounded by peers that strive to do that same things they aim to do. Whether the goal is to excel in the classroom, to start a new Registered Student Organization (RSO), or to pursure groundbreaking research, we believe that we become the average of the top five people that we hang out with. To that end we would like to propose an initiative that would provide a space for students to immerse themselves among peers they want to be influenced by, in their area of interest. To do this, we will create a RSO that works as a "Think Tank". Students who join will come together every other week or so and try to solve real world problems. Students will be able to interact with others who have similar goals and who are also intellectually curious. This will also foster innovative thinking and idea creation. 

Project 4: Create a UD Think Tank.

To implement this project, the steps that need to be taken are:
  1. Reach out to the office of student organizations and find out if this has been attempted before but failed. 
  2. Do customer discover - see if students would be interested in this kind of club. 
  3. Establish a framework for how the club will run. 
  4. Begin the registration process with the office of student organizations.
  5. Adversties around campus and get students involved. 

Establishing a legal support system for undergraduate students

During our research for the University Innovation Fellowship (UIF) program, we realized that the Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships (OEIP) primarily caters to the needs of faculty members and graduate students, when it comes to legal advice and support. While OEIP has supported a few undergraduate teams in the past, undergraduate students might benefit from a student-led law clinic. The idea would be to identify students who are interested in pursuing law as a career, and match them with students who need legal advice pertaining to filing a patent or establishing a startup, for example. This idea might provide guidance to students who may not completely understand the implications of patent violations and lawsuits, and might work as a preventive measures to avoid such a detrimental scenario. The idea is inspired by the concept established by MIT and Boston University School of Law. This would be a long term project. 

Project 5: Establish a law clinic for undergraduate students

To implement this project, the steps that need to be taken are:
  1. Present the idea at the stakeholder meeting
  2. Follow up with a survey to record instances where legal help was required by undergraduate students, but was not available
  3. Identify potential collaborators for the project
  4. There are a littany of resources through the Venture Developement Center and the Horn Program - advertise their existence and get students to seek advice. 

2017 Cohort Student Priorities

Increasing Awareness of I&E Programs on Campus

The University of Delaware has many programs meant to increase I&E for students across campus, but many students are not aware of these programs.

Project 1: Increase Awareness of I&E Programs across Campus

To implement the project, the steps that need to be taken are:

  1. Brainstorm ideas to increase awareness of I&E programs on Campus
  2. Create smaller projects to increase I&E program awareness in specific areas, as shown below

Integrating I&E Programs throughout Different Majors

I&E Programs are well estabilished in specific majors such as engineering majors and entrepreneurship majors. Many majors in colleges such as the College of Arts & Sciences do not have capstone classes that necessarily promote the development of innovation. One way to improve the lack of innovative classes in other departments would be to integrate these capstone classes, requiring students from different majors to work together on a single product/design. 

Project 2: Establish an Interdisciplinary Capstone Project

To implement the project, the steps that need to be taken are:

  1. Reach out to I&E faculty for leadership and guidance
  2. Reach out to department heads in traditionally innovative fields to establish a connection and drive interest in the collaborative capstone
  3. Brainstorm which departments would complement each other well- i.e. marketing + engineering
  4. Run a few trials across one or two capstones to gauge information on "rights" and "wrongs"
  5. Integrate early-on collaboration, not just with a senior capstone. Start collaboration in EGGG101 (Engineering101) and equivalents

Increasing Freshman Involvement in I&E Programs

Many freshman on campus are unaware of the several I&E programs available to them. In order to really start promoting I&E programs across campus, we should make people aware of the availability early on in their college careers. 

Project 3: Pair with a Freshman Entrepreneurship Program

To implement the project, the steps that need to be taken are:

  1. Reach out the the Delaware Innovation Fellows (DIF), a program designed to integrate I&E into students' curriculae starting freshman year
  2. Brainstorm ideas for a workshop for the DIFs to host in order to increase freshman participation in I&E

Encouraging More Creativity and Social Change Based Innovation over Product Based Innovation

Many of the I&E programs already established on campus are moreso focused on a single product. We want to promote innovation in a more creative sense, such as creating a positive social change on campus.

Project 4: Promote Innovative Social Change on Campus

To implement the project, the steps that need to be taken are:

  1. Reach out to different RSOs across campus
  2. Brainstorm ideas for effective change on campus
  3. Host coffee chats to discuss important topics such as increasing awareness of diversity on campus

Encouraging the Continuation of I&E Projects Beyond the End of the Semester

Many creative ideas and basis for ideas are generated and developed during I&E courses, but after the semester ends students lack the time, motivation, incentive and/or accountability for them to follow through or develop the idea further.

Project 5: Create a Mentoring Board to Help Further Develop I&E Project

To implement the project, the steps that need to be taken are:

  1. Contact faculty and experienced students who may be interested in comprising an Innovation Mentoring Board
  2. Pair mentors with students interested in further pursuing an I&E idea based on interest/experience with said idea
  3. Mentor(s) assist student with I&E project through finding funding and improving the idea
  4. Idea has a much better shot at success

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