Priorities:Tennessee Technological University Student Priorities

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As the Spring 2016 UIF leadership circle for Tennessee Technological University, we hope to increase and expand innovative and entrepreneurial mindsets across campus. In 5 to 10 years we want to come back to see engineers working with artists, chemists creating alongside social scientists, and business professionals collaborating with human ecologists. We hope to see greater and stronger student-faculty relationships, students pursuing their innovative ideas from day 1 of freshman year, and a greater use of campus and regional resources to help students and faculty bring their ambitions to life. Above all, we hope to see innovative thinking become the standard, not the exception.


Fall 2019 Video


Financial Education & Accountibilty for Students

If you asked any college student, "why are you in college" they would tell you they are chasing a career. Of course, they wouldn't be handing over their parents life savings if they didn't believe they wouldn't get a return on their tuition. So many students today find themselves in financial crisis both in and outside of school. They struggle with the almighty student loan debt crisis, credit cards, car loans and personal spending all while expected to buy a home and live the American Dream. My proposal is to implement a student run organization or club that brings students from Tennessee Tech together to discuss these important topics. Students should be able to create lofty, financial goals for themselves and their legacy yet, nobody has told them that they can achieve a high level of financial success. I will be the first of their peers to tell them that anything they can conceive, they can achieve. We will discuss the steps necessary in creating wealth, create goals, live by those goals, and inspire financial change for our generation. 


Team Building & Leadership Skills for Students

Many students face issues when it comes to working with a team for class projects or in their work and home lives. Many students don’t know how to face these issues, which makes working in a team, for any reason, frustrating. Students also have been vocal about the lack of leadership skills they have. Several students that I have talked with have mentioned that leadership is something that they are never really taught; all throughout high school, they are taught to follow, but never how to be the one that is followed. For my project, I want to offer these skills to students in a way that can be fun and stress-free, but also provide them with what they need to succeed. My idea is to offer a 1 credit hour course that offers team building and leadership skills to all students in an outdoor setting. This course would be a 4-5-week course offered in the spring. Participating students would meet once a week for an outdoor activity that involves either teamwork, leadership from each student, or both. After course completion, each student would have skills on how to effectively work as a team member in a functional group, and how to take the leadership role in a situation. This will help students with class projects as well as in any entrepreneurial role they may take on. 


Integrating Student Information Networks 

One of the most confusing and challenging aspects of adjusting to college life is learning how to access resources. During our first interactions with campus life, students are often given many business cards, phone numbers and pamphlets about campus resources that are quickly lost or forgotten about. From health services to student organizations, there are information networks across campus that are available to students but not interconnected. This can make it difficult for students to find out what is going on across campus and how to access resources available to them. This strategic priority is focused on integrating those information networks for student access. This includes fostering cooperation between academic and administrative units that disseminate information, creating new networks of information and new distribution and reviving old networks that are underutilized. This will be accomplished through revitalizing and reopening the television broadcasting studio on campus and making it available for student use. The studio will serve as the new hub for information dissemination across campus, from academics to administration to student life; there will be one source to fuel and connect many networks.

STUDENT PRIORITY #4: Courtney Savage

Spreading Knowledge of I&E and Available Resources Through Collaboration

While our campus offers diverse opportunities and resources in the field of innovation, many students are unaware of the possibilities. In addition, several opportunities are reserved for students from specific departments. My idea is to introduce the various aspects of I&E by building a club of students from different majors and backgrounds who will learn about I&E through a hands-on approach. The re-establishment of iCARE, a social entrepreneurship club, will make this introduction possible. The goals of iCARE are to introduce and explain the concepts of innovation and entrepreneurship, inspire students to take an active role in the well-being of their community, and integrate the ideas and skills of students across campus. iCARE will work to complete these goals in several different ways. We will invite speakers who have mixed innovation with social entrepreneurship to build interest in I&E. The first project of iCARE will be a collaboration with a local Senior Center. Students will learn about the design process throughout this project. They will communicate with the older adults at the center to determine any difficulties they may face on a day-to-day basis. The older adults and students will work together to brainstorm possible solutions and develop a prototype. This will serve as an introduction to the I&E resources (such as the iMakerSpace) available on campus. By collaborating with the outside community we hope to introduce and promote I&E on a larger scale. 


Pitch Video



One way I will help bridge this gap will be by exposing psychology students to virtual reality and explaining the new presence it has taken in the field of psychology. After talking with several students, I found that not one was aware of this new method of therapy using virtual reality for patients of all kinds. Students did find it very interesting and I feel this is a great way to get psychology student's foot in the door of I&E. Virtual reality has been used for exposure therapy to help patients conquer fears of flying, test-taking anxiety, panic attacks, arachnophobia, anxiety disorders, and even ADHD, but is not limited to this list. A lot of students, including myself, didn't know or only knew about a few I&E resources our campus offers at a surface level. I believe opening up this opportunity to psychology students to learn about this subfield and virtual reality will spark the flame of I&E awareness and involvement for my target population, psychology students who currently have little to no involvement with the I&E community. 

Whereas, we are obviously not certified counselors or psychologists and cannot actually perform these kinds of therapies. I do believe making students aware of this subfield within psychology and giving them direct opportunities to interact with virtual reality will be a big step toward our leadership circle's goals of breaking down academic silos and connecting passion and education with career through innovation and entrepreneurship.

STUDENT PRIORITY #2: Caroline Timpson


One of the huge hurdles students face when trying to build their own business, or change the conversation about something, is not having the right tools or knowledge. That inspired my goal. So What I want to change in I&E for students, is creating a class to help teach coding to non-computer science majors. The class would focus on app development and html. You may be thinking, Why this specific class, when you could easily just take an intro to Computer science? By focusing on specific entrepreneurial hurdles that students run into such as building a website for their product, this class becomes a channel to empower students in the I&E community. It introduces students to a “scary thing” through an elective, fostering a low pressure atmosphere to encourage failure, and mistakes, so that students can get a deeper understanding and learn more. Learning to code is great practice for precise, disciplined, and abstract thinking. Programming transforms a computer from something you use to do basic tasks into a power tool. It allows students to take what the they have and take it to their job or even create their own path.

STUDENT PRIORITY #3: Justin Medley


I have chosen to deploy knowledge and access to Bloomberg Terminals across campus and across disciplines. The Bloomberg Terminal has been called the most powerful machine in business. The terminal has over 50% of the market share among financial data services. The College of Business at Tennessee Technological University has recently acquired approximately 10 of these machines. My vision is to see other Colleges within the University take advantage of this incredible technology by utilizing the terminal in the context of their discipline. My initiative is to hold trainings for different academic groups. For instance, the Bloomberg Terminals have mapping functions that use file formats only used within the GIST community. Bloomberg has a team dedicated to GIST training. The first student group I would like to train is the Graduate Students from our distinguished Water Research Center. Future trainings will at first be based on interest, which has been shown from the Department of Earth Sciences and the Department of Chemistry.

STUDENT PRIORITY #4: Shelby Williams


Situation (About Tech’s Nursing Program and Connection with I&E)

The nursing program at TTU is divided into Upper Division and Lower Division. Upper division consists of about 60 students per class and is typically applied for at the end of freshman year. Upper Division nursing students are placed in clinical settings throughout Middle and East TN in focus areas including Mental Health, Medical/Surgical Nursing, Pediatrics and a few other areas

At the heart of the TTU nursing program lies the constant teaching of improving patient care and health care outcomes. In the clinical setting, many students see a need for innovation or an area for improvement. They empathize with current nurses and healthcare workers on the problems they face every day, but they lack the basic understanding of I&E concepts and resources to help improve the identified problems.

Background and Assessment (Resources)

The I&E Ecosystem Landscape Canvas of Tennessee Technological University and the Cookeville community looks promising when it comes to the number of student organizations (45+) capable of fostering I&E. Yet, when focused in on nursing students, when it comes to the basic question, “Do you know about I&E at Tech?” The most common answer is no. This overwhelming lack of awareness of I&E needs to be addressed in order to further innovation. If this level of awareness remains the same, the equipment will remain unimproved, and innovation will not be reaching the fullest potential within healthcare. This is why my primary goal is to increase awareness of I&E within the Nursing School at TTU, specifically with those nursing students that experience and recognize areas of improvement in the clinical setting every day.

Recommendations (The Plan)

1. Introduce I&E early on to all nursing majors: Upper and Lower Division

Each nursing class will receive a survey at the beginning of the semester. Starting with Spring 2017 (January 2017)

2. “Health Make-a-thons” (March 2017, May 2017)

3. “How To: Bedside Innovation” Sessions (February 2017, April 2017)

4. Accessibility to Resources and Awareness of Existing Resources (Implementation Spring 2017)

Flyers, Posters about the iCube and iMakerspace

Supply carts of supplies in the Nursing building for easy access to prototype ideas

5. Involve Faculty

6. Incorporate I&E within existing courses

Promote/Expand nursing courses that already focus on I&E (i.e. “Clinical Immersion at Disciplinary Interfaces”)




With the addition of the iCube and iMakerspace to Tennessee Technological University's campus, a key resource for innovation and entrepreneurship is available for all students to utilize. The iCube hosts a virtual reality lab, brainstorming area and classroom, and an iMakerspace loaded with machines like 3-D printers and lab space. Currently, the space is primarily used by engineering students, as well as a small proportion of business students. To introduce students of all majors to entrepreneurship and innovation both on campus and within this new resource, specialized pop-ups should be held which represent the interests of various underrepresented majors in the iCube. For example, a pop-up class which showed wildlife and fisheries students how to 3-D print fish hooks would bring students of other majors into the space and increase exposure to interdisciplinary work with engineering students. Specialized pop-up classes will be open to all students, increasing the likelihood of involving more majors in the iCube and iMakerspace. 

In order to identify these unique topics of interest, various surveys will be sent out to students' emails requesting ideas and ranking those ideas based on interest. The success of this strategic priority requires the formation of a strong partnership between the faculty/staff of the iCube & iMakerspace and students. In the beginning stages, specialized pop-ups can be hosted by faculty members across campus with the eventual introduction of student-facilitated pop-ups. 

Materials for the pop-ups will form the bulk of required funding for this strategic priority. Meetings with the stakeholders within each college will be held to identify funding sources for material costs. A pop-up funding grant would be a wonderful future addition to this initiative.

Everyone has a need for innovation in their degree, and these specialized pop-ups are a way to introduce more students to invaluable resources on campus.




Research completed regarding the I&E ecosystem at Tennessee Technological University uncovered a large base of I&E-capable student organizations (40+) with an overwhelming lack of courses either based on or integrating I&E principles into the curriculum (~9 + Senior capstone projects). Courses containing these concepts are clustered within the engineering and business disciplines, with few outliers among other majors such as agriculture and nursing.

One such course, involving students from nursing and chemical engineering (open to biomolecular concentration as well as general chemical engineering students), is called Clinical Immersion at Disciplinary Interfaces and was piloted during the Fall 2015 Semester. This course teaches students to apply field experience/observation and personal interviews to a process very similar to the design thinking process called the Legacy Cycle. Students then use this creative process to generate innovative solutions to problems noted during clinical experiences in the hospital and/or identified by health care workers (mostly staff nurses). One solution presented at the end of the course included plans and theoretical proof of concept for a non-lead radiation-shielding sterile drape which would be reusable, sterilizable, light-weight, and flexible.


Though Clinical Immersion at Disciplinary Interfaces is an interdisciplinary course focused on a process similar to design thinking, there are a few improvements which would make the experience more effective:

  1. Increase time period: One semester proved too short for any of the four Fall 2015 groups to fully develop a prototype or MVP (minimum viable product).
  2. Increase interdisciplinary aspect: The course only includes students from nursing and chemical engineering disciplines, leaving large knowledge deficits when developing business plans and/or other aspects of prototype development which cannot be solely applied to chemical engineering and/or nursing.
  3. Greater introduction to available resources: While a brief introduction to the resources available for prototyping on campus was provided (specifically, the iMakerspace within the iCube), no in-depth instruction occurred on the use of these resources due to time constraints for the students of Fall 2015.


In order to remedy the areas for improvement outlined above, a long-term 3 year program has been proposed for participation of students from every major offered through Tech (not all will be represented, but all will be eligible). This program will offer extensive exposure to I&E concepts and interdisciplinary collaboration while promoting the use of available resources for student innovative and entrepreneurial ventures. Divided into yearly cohorts, the program will give students the opportunity to form long-term interdisciplinary relationships for collaboration in solution development to problems found in the surrounding area and/or on mission trips to more distant locations.

  1. First year cohorts will focus on learning the design thinking process, the business model canvas, and other vital resources which facilitate innovation and entrepreneurship from concept generation to production & sales. The program will integrate into the curriculum critical & creative thinking exercises challenging students to apply these concepts to the world around them.
  2. Second year cohorts will be assigned projects for solution development and execution. Students will focus on design thinking solutions to the assigned problem, developing prototypes/minimum viable products (MVPs) from data collected through research, and working to bring the solution to production using resources available on campus and in the regional I&E ecosystem.
  3. Third year cohorts will self-identify problems and develop design solutions with the end goal of achieving student licensure of the product, venture start-up status, and/or commercialization of the product by an outside entity. As the capstone of the program, this project will challenge students to work together effectively while pooling knowledge not only from the previous two years in the program, but also knowledge gained within each student's respective discipline.


  1. iCube partnership (Spring 2016): In order to establish increased program credibility, developing a close partnership with the directors and administrators of the iCube is essential to gaining the support of individual college deans and department heads. Partnership with the iCube also provides the program with a home-base and increased access to resources required for prototyping and design development.
  2. Teaser course/workshop (Spring 2016): Further research of student interest and attitudes toward I&E and a program of this type is required before development can truly begin. Holding a teaser design thinking workshop for students within UNIV 1010 Freshman Connections courses will give students a taste of the concepts to be taught within the program and provide an opportunity for gauging student interest in I&E and interdisciplinary collaboration.
  3. Gain support of colleges and departments (Spring & Summer 2016): Support from the individual colleges and departments on campus would aid in pushing the program through various curriculum committees and also help to promote the program and I&E to faculty and students across campus.
  4. Spark interest early: Targeting students during freshman year is a tactic universities deploy across the country to increase student discovery of I&E and promote its continued pursuit. If we can teach students to look for the I&E opportunities around them in their UNIV 1010 Freshman Connections course (see Strategic Priority #3) the proposed program will provide a guided opportunity to pursue these ideas long-term.

UPDATE 9/6/2016

Due to limited time for priority implementation, this priority has been replaced with another short term priority which was exceuted August 29th, 2016 - September 1st, 2016 (RUSH UIF event series). The UIFellows are working to promote the newly approved Tennessee Tech Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate open to all undergraduate students. This is the first step in achieving establishment of an Innovation & Entrepreneurship program of study at Tennessee Tech.


RushUIFlogo Purple.png

RUSH UIF is a four part event series which seeks to expose students to Innovation & Entrepreneurship in fun and exciting ways and increase student awareness of the underlying prevalence of Innovation & Entrepreneurship in our culture today. Each event is very different from the last, targeting a different reason or avenue for I&E involvement. This year's series took place August 29th, 2016 - September 1st, 2016.

  1. DAY ONE - Movie Night: We chose to show the motion picture "Joy" to illustrate the grit and perseverance required when experiencing setbacks in a venture
  2. DAY TWO - Pop-up Mixer: This event was comprised of a three station pop-up at which students learned about a different  facet of I&E including innovation, entrepreneurship, and human-centered thinking
  3. DAY THREE - Happy Hour Unconference: Students were able to meet off campus at a local hot spot for drinks, good conversation, and a chance to try out the HTC Vive and the Microsoft Hololens
  4. DAY FOUR - Makeathon: Students were tasked with creating items which would help them survive in a desert island scenario. We provided rapid prototyping supplies and a creative atmosphere, the rest was up to the students! Each participant really enjoyed the event and expressed interest in attending similar events in the future



Through our investigation of the I&E ecosystem on our campus, a dichotomy began to emerge in which I saw a divergence between those who viewed the design thinking process as valuable in itself and those who viewed it as a means to developing technology. Tennessee Tech has done an admirable job  building out the infrastructure which could support creating technology or a company, but has room to grow in terms of developing an I&E culture.

Design thinking as a methodology has value when applied to a person’s life, college experience, or career. I&E can provide value to every Tech student regardless of what they do after graduation. My goal is to blend I&E into the freshman curriculum through the University Connections class. I want every freshman to begin his/her time at Tech with an I&E boot camp.

I will run a pilot “Design Thinking College” course. The class will meet in the maker space and feature key I&E faculty and leadership as guest speakers and lecturers. The class will involve a hands on I&E project from day one and will conclude with an idea pitch competition. This class aims to introduce students to the I&E framework so early in their college careers it becomes their default, and they can engage in the community and culture we are trying to build at Tennessee Tech. 



Tennessee Tech has the potential to become a top school for innovation. Its campus is filled with students who care about and want to solve real problems. It's also filled with a faculty that is doing a variety of research, some faculty members are even taking their research to market. Below are some goals that should be implemented in order to take Tennessee Tech to the next level in regard to innovation and entrepreneurship. It is split up into three main tasks that are then subdivided. The previous tasks of TTU's Spring of 2014 Fellow have been successful but are still being completed. Enis was able to start an entrepreneurship society on campus that has gained members and recognition across all disciplines and colleges on campus. The Maker Space that was supposed to be completed by Fall of 2014 is still under construction but will hopefully be completed by the end of the Spring of 2015 semester.



Description: This would allow students to focus on the fourteen grand global challenges presented by the NAE and develop their own solutions to these challenges as they are receiving their education from the university. Now that the student body is being educated about innovation and entrepreneurship, it is time to focus on the freshman students as well as the incoming freshman of classes to come. I feel this can be achieved by starting a chapter of the NAE: Grand Challenge Scholars Program.


  1. Ask university faculty for their support to gain traction. The university will need to define its requirements for students that will participate in this program.
  2. Once the university has defined its goal for the program it should educate its student body on the required curriculum that the university has outlined to complete the program. Completing steps one and two may take anywhere from a few weeks to a month. 
  3. After defining a set curriculum the university must now find a way to draw students to participate in the program. Students will first need to know of the program and see what the benefits of participating in the program will be. This could also take about a month to complete. 
  4. Send the defined curriculum to the NAE for review and approval. This should take about six weeks. During this time students should be spreading the word of the program to all colleges on campus and meeting to discuss what focus area they wish to participate in. 
  5. Once approved, the university needs to utilize spaces on campus that promote innovation and entrepreneurship such as the IDLI Maker Space and the College of Business’ Media Center. Educating freshman and other new students of the location of these areas is paramount. New students will most likely not go there if they are not first informed of the opportunities set up for them there. This will go along with the promotion of the program. 
  6. Start the program on campus. The university should document and promote the inaugural scholars in the program. Their successes will draw other students to the program and help it gain traction across all colleges and disciplines on campus. 

This whole process should take about three to four months. Hopefully, this task will be completed by Fall of 2015. 



The second task is to create an interdisciplinary student think tank. The purpose of this group would be to capitalize on the members’ combined expertise, consistent with the design-thinking model, and to utilize their knowledge in innovation and entrepreneurship through consulting, ideating, and analyzing in various projects for Tennessee Technological University and local businesses in the upper Cumberland region.


  1. Faculty Awareness. The first tactic will be to create faculty awareness, starting with the Entrepreneurship Task Force within the college of business. The CoB has already shown considerable interest in the idea of a student lead consult group. Some faculty members have already begun to help in the developmental stage of this project. After gaining the support of the CoB the goal is to take the idea campus wide and in an attempt to get other colleges across campus involved. Timeframe: Spring 2015: 2-3 months
  2. Student Awareness. The Second tactic is to create general awareness for I&E by capitalizing on many of the resources that already exist on campus. The Small Business Development Center hosts seminars and other various events that teach students many of the basic elements of entrepreneurship.  The University also has credited course in entrepreneurship that help aid in students’ discovery of I&E. The objective is to further utilize these seminars and course offerings to reach beyond the colleges of engineering and business and involve the entire campus in innovation and Entrepreneurship. Timeframe: Fall of 2015.
  3. Focusing In. The third tactic will be to reach to the student body (specifically those who have taken advantage of the I&E opportunities mentioned in tactic 2) to attract and excite them to the possibilities of a student lead think tank. Timeframe: Fall 2014
  4. Credibility. The fourth tactic will be to establish credibility with the University through the successes of tactics 1-3. Timeframe: Fall 2015
  5. University Support. The fifth tactic will be to gain the support of the university. The current objective is to work with the school on providing funds for the program or offering scholarships for students who are accepted into the student think tank. Timeframe: Spring 2016
  6. Implementation of Student Think Tank. The sixth tactic is the implement the student think tank. With backing from the university the student think tank would be launched as a viable program. The first members would be the three TTU University Innovation Fellows and any other exceptional students who have proved to be Innovative and Entrepreneurial (tactics 2 and 3). Student members in this think tank would begin working with Tennessee Tech University and surrounding businesses. This program would reach 100s of students while benefitting the school and surrounding community. It would provide an opportunity, for members of the think tank, to gain unmatched (by other near by universities) experience and knowledge in innovation and entrepreneurship. While simultaneously stimulating the I&E ecosystem of TTU. Timeframe: Fall 2016




  1. The first step is gathering the students together. This will be done by creating an organization or club that will serve as a place for innovative people to meet and discuss. This will be what brings everyone together to work on the same goal. It will also serve to create an atmosphere of entrepreneurship so that students will have a place where they can talk about their ideas and find people to join their teams.
  2. The next step is to make the students stick around by making it valuable. This will be done by hosting more events and speakers. Things like Tedx can really inspire the students in ways that just bringing them together in the same room can't. With more experiences like this, students will decide to take a bigger part in the organization and be more inspired as well.
  3. The next step is to give the students more personal skills in I&E. This will make the picture clearer and give them a better understanding of what I&E is. We will host workshops that give students the skills they need to go from having an idea to making it a reality.
  4. The next tactic needs to focus more on giving students the ability to pursue I&E. Once they are interested, this will give them the opportunity to really go after it.
  5. The fifth tactic will be to create more classes that focus on I&E. This will eventually lead to an I&E concentration, something like a minor. We are already offering a brand new class this summer that will put students in teams and offer them the chance to learn about designing a product for a market. As more classes like this are integrated into the curriculum, I hope to be the first student to graduate with a Chemical Engineering degree with a minor in I&E.
  6. The next step is to introduce students to the Biz Foundry on campus. This is a local accelerator and is a great place for people to go if they have a business idea or if they just need business advice. Not many people on campus know about this place, so it will be an important project to get the word out so student can take advantage of the opportunity.
  7. The final step is to create a maker space. Something similar to the we visited at Stanford. Students need a place to go and work on their ideas, ideally while surrounded by students who are doing the same. We are breaking ground this summer, and the faculty has stated that we should have this space constructed by Fall Semester 2014. This will be a room filled with materials, 3D printers, and high-end software that any student can use. 


Related Links

Tennessee Technological University

Tennessee Technological University Student Priorities

Tennessee Tech I&E Program

TTU iCube

University Innovation Fellows

Fall 2019:

Courtney Savage

Mik Davis

Rachel N. Smith

Fall 2016:

Justin Medley

Shelby Williams

Alicen Long

Caroline Timpson

Spring 2016:

Nicholas Russell

Jacqueline Schulz

Ashlin Wildun

Spring 2015:

Jonathan Abbotoy

Abigail Collins

Spring 2014:

Enis Cirak

Related links