Priorities:Arizona State University Tempe Student Priorities

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Arizona State University has a slew of impressive innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities with which students may engage themselves.  With over 300 majors, across 15 different schools, several certificates, multiple campuses, and satellite research and innovation centers geared towards pushing students towards entrepreneurship, ASU has made it a priority to harness the ideas and talents of its students.  The central hub for entrepreneurship at Arizona State University is located online through theOffice of Entrepreneurship & Innovation, as well as on campus resources such as Changemaker Central and the Startup Village.  These offices span the resources available on the ASU Tempe, Polytechnic, and SkySong campuses (those most involved with entrepreneurship and technological innovation) as well as other satellite research institutions affiliated with ASU.  Information contained on the Office of Entrepreneurship & Innovation website includes:

  • Research at ASU
  • Technology transfer services and programs
  • The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group
  • Additional services and support for student and faculty entrepreneurs

With the new focus of ASU's entrepreneurship programming, the Skysong campus houses the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative, a program which produces approximately 20 student-led startups each year.  Additional programming, including the Great Little Company Network, have been added to more than double the capacity of Skysong to produce student-led ventures.  Skysong is posited as a hub where industry connections, and other ASU networks are leveraged to produce well founded  student ventures. 

Additionally, new focus is being directed towards increasing makerspace and providing access to advanced tools and resources to facilitate venture and product development. A new and very large project, which is still under construction, is the Chandler Innovation Center, based about 40 minutes away from the Tempe campus. 

Though there appears to be a wealth of opportunities and resources available to students at ASU, there are some significant limiting factors to the usefulness and effectiveness of these facilities and resources.  These limiting factors include:

  • Many of the ~50 courses which are geared towards entrepreneurship are upper division classes, or classes that require a specific major designation (and are limited to students within to that major) instead of being broad in scope and inclusive.  The nature of entrepreneurship itself is neglected in this administrative barrier.
  • There is a lack of space dedicated to collaborative work in the entrepreneurship arena on the Tempe campus.  There are many spaces, but they are usually departmentally segregated.  No single space offers an open collaborative work area with access to the entrepreneurship resources available on campus.
  • The existing workshops, labs, and makerspaces on campus are not networked in any meaningful fashion.  Each has its own requirements for access, tool safety, and cost of materials.
  • Many students do not have the necessary transportation to reach many of these large -  almost superstructure type - facilities which are located very far off an already very large campus.  For example, there is no shuttle service at present (Spring 2015) between ASU's Tempe campus and TechShop in Chandler.  However Ruby Rides are available for free for individuals and small groups going to and from TechShop.

The following two strategies will address the physical and psychological barriers which confront students seeking help with their entrepreneurial and innovative ideas. These strategies focus on the accessibility of resources and how they can be improved to reach more students.

2015 Priorities - Collaboration Space and Networked Fabrication Spaces

Strategy #1 - Create an interdisciplinary innovation and entrepreneurship space at ASU’s Tempe campus which is open late, open to all students, and NOT part of an existing department.  This space will focus mostly on being a collaboration space, not a makerspace.  Instead of having large tools present, it will instead be a great place to whiteboard your plans, pitch your ideas, and find out where to go for the next step. This space is being envisioned and pitched for in Hayden Library, a central campus location which already boasts long hours, an attached coffee shop, and ample area for group collaboration. The existing group space will be replaced with an open floor plan, movable whiteboards and tables, and ceiling dropdowns for power. This space will be modeled off the Google Garage and serve a similar purpose, a place for teams of individuals from different parts of the organization to meet, brainstorm, and do simple prototyping. On the walls we will have large signs with the steps for design thinking, an example Business Model Canvas, and a connections board for entrepreneurs looking for individuals with specific skillsets. All of the campuses prototyping spaces will also be advertised with what tools they have and what you can do at each location along with how to get certified to work in a given space. We hope this will act as a central location for students to work in interdisciplinary teams and plan their next steps.

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Strategy #2 - Network the various small scale labs and makerspaces on campus together.  These spaces should be advertising that the other spaces exist, should be open to all students (with a caveat that they need to be primarily for their departmental students during finals/major project times), and should share certification for tool use. Currently, we have identified the Digital Culture FabLab, the Design School Digital Lab, and the CLAS Mechanical Instrument Shop as locations that could and should share resources and students. Making these spaces known, available, and networked is a second goal of this terms fellows.

Previous Year's Work

Strategy #1: Decentralized Access

Following are an array of strategies that will fully address Gap #1 over a 2-3 year period:

Tactic #1: Peer-led Makerspace

  • Description - A peer lead makerspace on campus which provides students access to design, creation, and prototyping spaces.  This space should be large enough to encourage multidisciplinary interaction among all vital parts of a successful student-led startup.  The space will be open to all majors, and the allocation of space to different student projects and teams will be decided and facilitated by a student filled board of directors.  
  • Team Leader:: Mary Wilcox
  • Milestones:
    • Scout available/vacant or underutilized spaces on campus                           11/13
    • Request space from current overseer
    • Open discourse with Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development             12/13
    • Propose plan for space                                                                                           01/14
    • Initiate student involvement in beta testing of space                                         02/14
    • Soft launch                                                                                                                 04/14
    • Full launch                                                                                                       

Tactic #2: Relaxing Administrative Barriers

  • Description - Allowing students from one discipline to cross over into entrepreneurship related courses offered by a school that houses different majors is key to unlocking the cross disciplinary discourse necessary to branch out and create new ventures.  Perhaps a Graphic Design student with an interest in modeling would like to take a class on engineering entrepreneurship, or a Web Design student is looking for a class to learn skills necessary to partner with other students to create a campus wide network - these students would be better served by having access to entrepreneurship classes in which they will connect with other like-minded students while learning the necessary skills to be successful entrepreneurs.
  • Team Leader:: TBD
  • Milestones:
    • Initiate discourse with Administration regarding I&E courses                         12/13 (for 08/14)

Tactic #3: Expanding Opportunities for Funding: Devil's Dome

Along with the diverse range of programs already offered at Arizona State, such as Edson, or the Innovation Challenge, we are looking to put together a slightly less formal way for students to raise the funding they need for what may be the next big idea. 

  • Description: A competitive platform which scales various disciplines and fields, in which students can easily showcase their creative innovations in front of a collection of local Venture Capitalists. After passing a preliminary, one-page application process where applicants lay out their idea, progress, and needs, they can be chosen as one of 30 teams to present at a "Devil's Dome" competition. During the competition, each team will get five to ten minutes to present their idea to a panel of potential business partners. In contrast to the traditional Shark Tank environment, the panel of potential funders will then have a week to review and respond to the teams who they think are the best investments. The notion here is that each team will earn the opportunity to present to competent and connected local business owners who can either help with funding, offer mentorship and/or connect the team to someone who may be interested in the venture. 
  • Team Leader: Eden Shuster
  • Milestones: 
    • Assemble a team of leaders who are interested in putting the project together       2/10/15
    • Put together a more extensive description and mission statement                           2/25/15
    • Reach out to university officials to help gain support and credibility                         3/05/15
    • Reach out to potential local Venture Capitalists (Confirm > 5)                                 3/25/15
    • Create a Marketing plan and application process                                                    4/15/15
    • Open the competition for potential applicants                                                          5/10/15
    • Put together and organize a competition which will take place on                           8/10/15-8/25/15

Related Links

Arizona State University Polytechnic Student Priorities

Stephanie Dolinger

Jorge Sanchez

Eden Shuster

Brandon Smith

Aubrey Wigner

Mary Wilcox

Arizona State University Tempe