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Western Michigan University Student Priorities

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Overview of Strategies

Project Pitch Video

Strategy 1

Innovation Club

Western Michigan University, like many other colleges, has a variety of Registered Student Organizations (RSOs). The innovation culture at Western seems to be segregated to graduate students or those in hands on classes. To challenge this culture and grow the overall definition of innovation on WMU's campus, more students need to be a part of the movement. To help spread the word and draw as many different people from various backgrounds, an RSO offers a simple start up process with the potential for a much more complex organization. As an organization the innovation club will impart the importance of design thinking and help students hone their ideas, mock up their models and fabricate working products.

To build this club, the following tactics should be implemented:

Tactic #1- Begin by creating a business model canvas, and talking to people. -Completed(Fall 2015) 

Tactic #2- Register with the University, and begin to advertise to interested students. -Completed(Fall 2015)

The Innovation club was registered as an RSO in the Fall of 2015. It is now located in the Makerspace on main campus in the library. The Innovation club strives to offer students a place where they can come to collaborate on projects with other students as well as prototype ideas. Its a place for students to learn new information and skills that will help them in their future.

To greater the success of the Innovation club some good strategies would be:

Strategy #1: Start pop up classes to get students more involved and excited about the club. -Started(Spring 2017)

Strategy #2: Create a fund to lessen the financial burden of student projects. -Started(Fall 2017)

Strategy #3: Market the club to a greater audience to increase student participation.

Strategy 2

Innovation Space

Being a division one university, Western Michigan has a large campus full of often underutilized classroom and community spaces. This availability of space, and input from current students highlights the desire and plausibility for a successfully developed innovation space. Existing labs and spaces are available for student use, though many of the labs are under utilized as they are hard to gain access to. Additionally, these spaces only have potential to serve as innovation spaces; they are not labeled or considered as such by current students.

To accomplish this project, the following tactics should be considered:

Tactic #1:  Allocate space.  Identify which spaces could be available for innovation and have an in depth understanding for what will need to be done to each for it to be functional. -Completed (Spring 2016)

Tactic #2: Train leaders to work the room and operate equipment in the safest manner possible. -Completed(Spring 2016)

Tactic #2:Develop an accountability system to make sure that the spaces are being used and reserved in an orderly way.  A system easily available for students to reserve the spaces for limited time and have a system to ensure that the spaces are well kept is a necessity to encourage participation.

One of the main functions of innovation spaces are bringing students together to collaborate and improve on each other's ideas. College specific spaces do not encourage this communication across majors. This is why the space is located at the center of main campus in the library. Where it is easily accessible to all students and faculty.

To forward the progress of this project the following steps should be considered:

Approach #1: Boost marketing tactics to make more students aware of the existence of the Innovation space.

Approach #2: Acquire additional funding to keep materials and tools well stocked. This could be done through fundraising or company sponsorship.

Approach #3: Get a space in the soon to be built Innovation center. This would allow for a space in the most prime area on campus for ideation and innovation.

WMU Ergo Lab.jpeg

Strategy 3

Interdisciplinary Senior Design

Senior engineering students at WMU must complete a senior design project as a requirement for graduation from their program. Currently, students only work with other students within their respective major or department. Project presentations occur twice a year in April and October. Completion of a senior design project indicates successful acquisition of major specific knowledge as well as real world application skills. However, the structure of post-graduate corporate America isn’t organized into teams by college major. It is full of interdisciplinary creative groups expressing entrepreneurial and innovative tendencies towards specific challenges. Multiple discipline collaboration within the College of Engineering & Applied Sciences and beyond during senior projects encourages the continued development of innovation and entrepreneurial skills as students enter the workforce.

To accomplish this, the following tactics should be considered:

Tactic #1:Encourage the acceptance of interdisciplinary projects as viable and long lasting topics for senior design presentations rather than the result of a last minute group and idea formation.

Tactic #2: Meet with and discuss the process involved in approving senior design projects with faculty in charge. Getting an understanding of the requirements allows parameters to be set so that the proper balance of innovation and knowledge recitation can occur.

Tactic #3: Gain student interest. Spread the word about possible senior design collaborations between majors to future seniors to prove the existing interest to faculty and decision makers in charge of approval.

Wmu senior design.jpg

Strategy 4

Focus on Intrapreneurship

Overview: Due to the campus culture at WMU, “entrepreneurship” seems to only be a buzzword. To many students, entrepreneurship only means starting a business from scratch. While this is true, it is not fully representative of the entire scope of entrepreneurship and innovation. The other portion is often called intrapreneurship, or innovation that occurs within existing industries.

Tactic #1: While students within the College of Engineering & Applied Sciences are constantly building, creating, and designing solutions, few realize how much innovation is actually occurring, and how the lessons they are learning can be applied to their future career. One option is to bring in industry leaders to speak about how they use design thinking and innovation in their workplace. This could stress the importance of entrepreneurial thinking as a whole, independent of whether the student wanted to open a business or enter the workplace.

Tactic #2: WMU could also offer intrapreneurship workshops to highlight the skills necessary to be successful in particular industries. Focus would be on the approach and application of the design cycle within the restraints of a company.

Tactic #3: Entrepreneurship can be introduced to all students in introductory courses. While the Industial Engineering department as well as the Business College do a good job of exposing their students to entrepreneurship many other departments have lots to gain by introducing this concept to students in the early stages of their academic career.

Strategy 4

Entrepreneurship and Innovation Resource Introduction for Underclassmen

Overview: In talking to younger students on campus, we found that many did not know about the opportunities that were readily available to them. By not knowing about the opportunities, they were unable to take advantage of them, completely defeating the purpose of the opportunities at all. We believe that students should know about all opportunities available to them so that if they are interested, they can partake in entrepreneurship and innvoation activities on campus. 

Tactic #1: Tabling at admitted student events. By being present at events for students before they even attend classes, opportunities such as the Innovation Club will be more prevelant in students' minds when they do get to college. This is especially true for students who try everything before classes start because they won't be too busy to learn more in the first place. 

Tactic #2: Better marketing tactics for things like the library makerspace and the Innovation Club. By having more marketing materials and ambassadors for entrepreneurship and innovation around campus, students will be exposed to opportunities that they wouldn't have otherwise known about. Particularly with ambassadors, students would be able to ask questions and learn more about their options than with traditional flyers. 

Strategy 5

Interdisciplinary Student Engagement Initiative

Overview: After getting insight from the student body from WMU's campus, we noticed there was a lack of interdisciplinary student engagement. We believe a solution to this problem is holding an event in which all students can participate no matter school standing or major. This event would foster a collaborative environment at the university between students, faculty, and the community.

Tactic #1: The event we have in mind is a 48-hour startup weekend/hackathon. At this event students will participate for 48 hours to innovate, create, and network with employers. There will be a single challenge that students will create and help innovate a new idea involving a company, product, or business plan ultimately presenting this model to a panel of judges. There will be a monetary award being sourced from the company and school for the winners of the competition. To avoid pre-planning, the topic will kick off the 48-hour challenge. 

Tactic # 2: Preceding the 48-hour hackathon/startup weekend, we will host a TEDx event to bolster student excitement for change in higher education. It will create a domino effect on how students would want to incorporate change. Which ultimately will lead to the creation of an authentic community between student and faculty for innovating change on campus. 

Related Links

Graduated Innovation Fellows:  Christopher WoodwardPersefoni_Lauhon, Zach_Crawford

Current Fellows: Mackenzie Preston, Jill Puckett, Nathan LaWarre, Daniel Mozel, Andreas Hobelsberger, Megan Miller, Saleh Mohamed

University: Western_Michigan_University