Priorities:University of Michigan Student Priorities

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The University of Michigan entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem is filled with opportunities.  The opportunities range all over the entrepreneurship and innovation spectrum and cover all stages of the entrepreneurial process.  The University of Michigan has many things to offer including classes, hackathons, and design teams.  The city of Ann Arbor has much to offer as well, such as: accelerators and tech transfers.   Increase in entrepreneurship and startups are a main goal of the state of Michigan due to its struggle throughout the past years with the recession and the decline of the auto industry.  With our state fighting to make a comeback, the students of the University of Michigan have joined this fight.  We are taking on our role as "Victors" for Michigan and diving into the entrepreneurship and innovation scene.


Strategy #1: Starting Young

Tactic #1: Taking Engineering 100 to the Next Level 

Description: For all freshman engineering students, there are two required courses.  One of these courses is a design course called Engineering 100.  In this course, there are several categories/ options that a student could sign up for.  The categories include Design in the Real World, Harnessing the Wind, and Gaming for the Greater Good.  In each of these semester-long courses, students have their first taste of the design process and all it encompasses.  What these courses fail to offer is assistance to the students to take their designs beyond the course.  When the semester ends and a final presentation is given, students have very little support to take their great ideas and work onward.  It is the Leadership Circle's goal to create a bridge to support the continuation of these projects.  Resources varying from funding to legal support will be offered so that the students can continue on. 

Tactic #2: Student Orientation Entrepreneurship and Innovation Project

Description: All freshman are required to go to Orientation at some point in the summertime, before they start attending the University of Michigan.  At this Orientation, students have long days of being lectured to, touring the campus, and taking placement tests.  To be able to spark their interest immediately and expose them to entrepreneurship, an I & E project will be created for them to complete during their time at Orientation.  An idea for a project that could be shorter, but still allow for solid exposure, would be a 1-2 hour problem-solving and consulting project.  A local company will present a problem they are having and the students will get to work solving that problem.  They will use low-resource prototyping and basic technical skills to solve the problem.  They will then pitch their final solution.  This could be a freshman's first experience with pitching and real-world problem solving.  With this project, students will be exposed to the resources on campus and learn what is available to them throughout their time at U of M.

Tactic #3: An Increase in Design/Entrepreneurship Classes Offered to Freshman and Sophomores

Description: The University of Michigan has a Program in Entrepreneurship offered to undergraduates and graduates.  To be eligible for this program though, students must be sophomores or above.  Many other design courses are higher-level courses, which are harder for freshman and sophomores to access.  By the time students are exposed to entrepreneurship, they do not have enought time or room in their schedules to explore what branch of entrepreneurship they are interested in. The goal would then be to create more freshman and sophomore-accessible courses that allow for design, business planning, and other key skills to help with I & E projects.

Strategy #2: A Continuous Flow of I & E, Moving Away from the Event-to-Event Mentality

Tactic #1: Web/App Version of an Idea Book 

Description: Many innovators carry around a notebook to jot down notes on ideas and observations of the world.  Many of these ideas never see the light of day due to lack of motivation or confidence by the person with the idea.  The goal is to create a website and mobile app where your ideas can be recorded when they pop into your mind.  It will be easy to use and accessible.  You can decide to share an idea publicly or keep it private.  If it is shared publicly, you can have input from fellow University of Michigan students.  

Tactic #2: Resource Match-Maker

Description:  There are many students with ideas or projects that are already in progress, but are at a standstill due to lack of skills.  The search for these skills can be challenging and it is hard to find someone to add to your team who is as motivated and interested as you are.  With the Resource Match-Maker, the skills you need will be posted to the Resource Match-Maker website.  People will be able to browse the projects people are working on and the skills they are looking for in order to find a project that matches their need.  It will act as a match-making system, connecting innovators to the technical, artistic, business, etc. skillset they are looking for.

Tactic #3: For Those Who Didn't Make the Cut... 

Description: There are many events on campus including MHacks, Startup Weekend Ann Arbor, and 1000 Pitches.  With these events, there is an outpouring of fantastic ideas, but in the end only the best move on.  To keep the hype going, the goal is to keep the "losing" teams motivated and help them make their project a reality.  Resources of all kinds will be provided.  

Strategy #3: Augmenting Resource Accessibility Throughout the University

Tactic #1: Makerspace Passports

Description: Makerspaces and machining locations are scattered in several locations across the University of Michigan.  By no means is the university lacking in sheer quantity of makerspaces; however, these resources are not currently available for use by undergraduate students. This is largely due to a lack of training resources which in turn causes safety concerns among administrators when confronted with opening these resources to the undergraduate student body.  We propose to create a passport system where an individual will be trained on a specific piece of equiptment and will the recieve a certification or "passport" to designate that an individual has been trained for that piece of equipment. Then by showing this passport to the supervisor of any machine shop on campus they will be able to use identical pieces of equipment.

Tactic #2: Cataloging available resources

Description: Currently the University of Michigan entrepreneurial resource availabilility can be difficult to navigate. There is no consolidated list in order to identify the supplies available for innovation and the creation of new ventures among the undergraduate community. We propose to create a catalog of these resources in order to accelarate entrepreneurial activity. This catalog will be widely distributed among the undergraduate community by way of integration into the freshman orientation packet with additional circulation augmented by the University of Michigan Center For Entrepreneurship. This will help prospective and current students catalyze the initiation of their ideas.

Tactic #3: Online portal for building a connected maker community

Description: While creating a "passport" and cataloging resources are highly beneficial to improving the accessibility of resources, the main goal is actually to engage students, faculty and administrators in the community, share resources and ideas, and work together to produce new ventures and innovations. By creating a roster of individuals trained on equipment available online students will be able to pair with other individuals who come from similar mechanistic backgrounds. More specifically allowing the students who comprise the roster to designate a willingness to help other people with their projects can foster a greater sense of community and cooperation throughout the maker community.

Strategy #4: Networking Meeting Spaces

Tactic #1: Start-up Networking Space

Description: We plan to designate a space and time for students with ideas to meet other students who are interested in building a team for the purpose of accelerating a product or business idea. We also would like to allow students who are interested in joining a team to have that oppurtunity in order to further spur the entrepreneurial mindset throughout campus. Students with existing ideas will make a list of the type of skill sets they need to build on their idea, and allow interested students to fill in the openings. 

Tactic #2: Online Networking Portal

Description: Build an online database of students that are interested in networking to form project teams. This could be as simple as a google docs spreadsheet listing each student's skill set, type of project/idea, and the types of team members they are looking for. By creating this online resource as opposed to just a start-up networking space, a greater sense of accesibility will be prevalent throughout the community of innovators.

Tactic #3: Notifications for Possible Match

Description: Time is of the essence in the development of new ventures and business ideas. A notification to students who are looking for other students when a possible match is found can rapidly decrease the waiting time and make the process of innovation much smoother. Additionally, a notification can be used for when teams members are free to work on their idea/venture. By accelerating the team building process, the initial time necessary to create a startup will be dramatically shortened. 

Strategy #5: Expose Students To Existing Opportunities

Tactic #1: Create a web-based portal to organize campus opportunities

Description: We plan to create a simple tool that will sort through all the opportunities on campus. Students should be able to easily filter by certain parameters, such as year, school affiliation, and interests, in order to be connected with resources, meetups, business challenges, and funding.

Tactic #2: Increase cross-campus collaboration

Description: Many opportunities fail to reach students due to a lack of awareness on the student's part. This is because students are often siloed into their own departments, even though another department on campus might be more relevant for their entrepreneurial goals. We will increase cross-campus collaboration by facilitating meetings between departments and encouraging marketing efforts to advertise other opportunities within each entrepreneurship unit/department on campus.

Tactic #3: Launch an online course about Michigan entrepreneurship

Description: This course can be optional, one-credit, and can be taken by students in their first year. The course will inform students of the various opportunities available to them, and introduce certain former student entrepreneurs as case studies for a successful college experience. 

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