Priorities:Southern Methodist University Student Priorities

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Southern Methodist University is a private research university located in Dallas, Texas. SMU is nationally renown for the Cox School of Business and Meadows School of the Arts. Both schools offer many courses and programs for Entrepreneurship. The Cox school of business is home to the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship and Meadows has gained notice for it's innovative Arts Entrepreneurship program. In recent years, the Lyle School of Engineering has been climbing in the rankings and known around the state of Texas as an elite engineering school for it's quality education and focus on Entrepreneurship and Innovation. 

SMU is home to two different interdisciplinary spaces for ideation and venture acceleration, The Deason Innovation Gym (Lyle School of Engineering) and The Cube. The innovation Gym is an on-campus makerspace, where students from all across the school can gain 24 hour access. The Gym has most any tool imaginable, including a laser cutter, vinyl cutter, cmc router, and 3 3d printers. Students work on personal and class projects as well as participate in multiple programs run out of the gym. 

Although SMU has many resources to foster innovation and entrepreneurship, most programs are run out of separate schools and see/ offer very little crossover between students in other schools. Some programs, such as those run through Big Ideas, are campus wide initiatives, but they struggle to recruit students due to fragmentation throughout the schools. In many ways, the I&E resources all fight for the same students. There needs to be a way for students to better connect to the existing programs.

Additionally, there are gaps seen in the survey of campus resources. More programs devoted to spinning out ideas are necessary, a technology transfer overhaul is a must, and more design spacesaround campus are necessary for greater student devotion to entrepreneurship and innovation. Administration and faculty are devoted to continue making SMU a birthplace of innovation. There are hurdles to overcome, but there is enough backing to push SMU to the forefront in entrepreneurship and innovation. 

Strategy #1: Create I&E Social Network and SMU I&E Manifesto

Tactic #1: Design the Network, Draft a preliminary manifesto and create a "business plan"

Description: Student resources are widely available but not easily accessed by many students due to the fragmentation and lack of collaboration across schools. A new way for students to connect to each other related to interdisciplinary collaboration needs to be created. Before launching the network, a manifesto containing the outline for I&E culture shift needs to be created and signed by every dean and even the president. This is a formal document citing the university's committment to new I&E initiatives including 24 hour access to collaborative spaces in EVERY buiding.

Team Leader: Jonah Kirby


Identify the I&E culture shift pillars- 2/1/15

draft the manifesto - 2/15/15

begin gaining adminstrative support - 3/8/15

Tactic #2: Design the social network for I&E

Description: This is a website or app that will allow students to connect to each other desiring to work on something. People can receive homework help or post a project they want to work on. Students from across the school can connect and join in.  Team Leader: Jonah Kirby


Outline what the network does and needs to be successful - 3/15/15

Form a student team to create the app that will connect students - 4/12/15

Begin coding - 5/17/15

Tactic #3: Launch the Social network and watch as the culture evolves

Description: Launching the website/app to the public will give students the opportunity to connect for projects, homework, or think tanks.

Team Leader: Jonah Kirby


Launch the beta/ prototype website/app - 8/1/15

receive feedback and revise - 9/1/15

Make the app public and watch the community rally behind it - 1/8/16

Strategy #2: Form a Technology Transfer Office

Tactic #1: Form Technology Transfer Board

Description: SMU lacks a formal techonology transfer board. In order to be competitive with other major universitities, SMU needs a Technology Trasnfer office or department to formerly protect student's IP. Forming a board is the first steo to creating a tech trasnfer office.

Team Leader: Jonah Kirby


Find important faculty and administration to serve on the Tech Transfer board - 9/1/15

Tactic #2: Create Tech Transfer Policy

Description: The Tech Transfer board will meet and decide what policies to put in place. Their main focus should be to protect student IP that will encourage more and more students to innovate on campus.

Team Leader: Jonah Kirby


Board researches Tech Transfer and gathers information - 1/15/16

Board writes Technology transfer policy - 5/1/16

Tactic #3: Tie the Technology Transfer Office in with the Umbrella I&E Organization

Description: Once campus leaders decide to found a tech trasnfer office, they will need a place to put it. The newly founded Umbrella Organization is the perfect place for the technology trasnfer office to go. 

Team Leader: Jonah Kirby


Finalize the policy and submit for approval- 5/15/16

Fund the Tech Trasnfer office through the avenues established in the I&E office - 9/1/16

Officially Launch the Tech Transfer office - 10/1/15

Strategy #3: Create more programs dedicated to Spin- out and Pursue

Tactic #1: Identify existing national programs and other internal programs 

Description: Although many I&E resources already exist, there is a gap in Spin- out and pursue resources. Adding more resources that help launch student ventires will be beenficial to the students, university, and local economy. 

Team Leader: Jonah Kirby


Take a student survey to find out what students want to see out of the new programs - 1/1/16

See what programs are offered by existing institutions (3 day startup, etc.) - 1/15/16

Contact local entrepreneurs to establish an incubator program - 3/1/16

Tactic #2: Work new programs in with other existing resources

Description: Add new programs into the I&E organization and promote them to the student body.

Team Leaders: Jonah Kirby


Add programs to website - 4/1/16

Allocate funds and resources - 6/1/16

launch new programs - 9/1/16

Strategy #4: Found more design spaces around campus

Tactic #1: Assess areas of need

Descriptions: Design spaces shouldn't be able to be counted on one hand. Spaces for ideation and creation should be in buildings all around campus for students to work and innovate. After all of the above strategies have come to fruition, the student body will be begging for more creative spaces.

Team Leader: N/A


Survey the campus and look for places and schools that lack common areas and creative space - 9/1/16

Have students vote on where they would most like to see new spaces -  10/1/16

Tactic #2: Allocate Resources and Build out

Description: Use the I&E office to raise funds. After the student body rallies around I&E on campus, there will be strong support for more spaces. Administration will not be able to ignore their requests.

Team Leader: N/A


Leverage the I&E office to attract more donors -  6/15/16

Create a discretionary building fund - 10/1/15

Find Space on campus for build outs - 11/115

Begin Construction on the first of many new spaces - 6/1/17


More student-led design organizations need to be had on campus. With the proliferation of I&E through the new campus institution, students will be eager and motivated to form new programs. 

Related Links:

SMU Campus Overview

Jonah Kirby's Student Profile

SMU Landscape Canvas

SMU Op-ed

Related links