Norwich University was founded in 1819 and is the oldest private military university in America. Today, the university offers both a Corps of Cadets and civilian lifestyle; the population of civilian students is growing. The university offers thirty diverse bachelor degrees from criminal justice to engineering to business management. Built on strong military traditions, the university offers great leadership development opportunities. The university has a small ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship. A growing student population is showing great interest in pursuing more innovation and entrepreneurship education opportunities. The university is supporting the efforts of those entrepreneurial minded students working to grow the support ecosystem and opportunities.
Norwich appears relatively strong from the standpoint of entrepreneurship and innovation (E&I). Most majors stress the importance of E&I and there are great events to inspire E&I. Lecture series that are both major specific and open to all are often motivating and inspiring. There are also great opportunities to practice and further develop one's leadership skills. There are formal courses that provide opportunities to engage in entrepreneurial thinking. A growing E&I club is hoping to increase engagement in the E&I activities around campus. Opening new communication networks within the university and also with the surrounding area is a major goal of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club.
The business school offers business management and leadership courses that convey E&I risks and benefits. There are also many professors who own their own businesses or are engaged in great research projects. Clubs on campus that hold events relating to E&I are relatively limited. The growing Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club is hoping to hold more events, sponsor student-led initiatives, and create a permanent E&I space. In the Spring of 2014, one E&I focused competition was held on campus.
The university was founded on principles of experiential education. Many programs have significant lab requirements offering hands-on experiences. Every program requires a senior, capstone design project that is focused on the students' developing their own creative works. The capstone projects provide a great opportunity for E&I activity to be incorporated or highlighted, but it is not required and varies greatly depending on the interests of the students. Formal laboratory courses provide great opportunities to gain hands-on experience, but do not necessarily provide opportunities for students to work on their own projects. A dedicated ideation / creation space, not scheduled for classes, may invite more students to apply E&I principles in their pursuits. Our Career Development Center is very helpful at supporting students seeking paid, outside internships.
Approximately 150k is set aside annually to support undergraduate student based research ideas. Students may seek funding to further research their ideas through a grant program that supports them as they commit to spend 10 weeks, full-time, in pursuit of their ideas. Students select a mentor of their choosing and have access to university labs and facilities.
Many students have no idea that we are located in a top ten state for entrepreneurship (http://accd.vermont.gov/business/start/entrepreneurship). From a reframing standpoint, there are many resources outside of the university (e.g. Start-Up Vermont, VCET, PeakPitch, The Generator) which are great services for regional entrepreneurs. Most professors are interested in their students' work and support and encourage the students as they network and seek growth opportunities for their ideas.