Priorities:University of North Carolina Student Priorities

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Project Pitch Video


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has many opportunities for students to get involved with innovations around campus. In researching these opportunities, it became apparent that it would be an impossible task to catalog them all. What was also apparent was that without exception these opportunities were not being spurred by a central mandate, but arising as needed from all of the individual schools and programs. The opportunity on this campus is to work on bringing all of those opportunities together in a way that is easy for potential students and investors to locate. Additional work should also be done in lowering existing barriers to innovation in all disciplines, and connecting the University more formally to the resources of surrounding universities and the Research Triangle Park (RTP).

The Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship has worked closely with the Chancellor to design a roadmap for innovation at our campus. The roadmap was holistic in its reach and incorporated a great deal of student feedback, making it easy to fit tactics into the university's overall vision (Innovate@Carolina Roadmap). The roadmap aligned five key recommendations for the campus:

  1. Prepare faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, staff, and the broader Carolina community with the knowledge, skills, and connections necessary to translate new ideas into innovations
  2. Catalyze innovation at Carolina by facilitating the work of faculty, staff, and students as they put important ideas to use for a better world
  3. Translate important new ideas more expediently and at an increased volume into innovations that improve society
  4. Align people, incentives, resources, and processes to strengthen an intentional culture of innovation at Carolina
  5. Catalyze innovation at Carolina by facilitating the work of faculty, staff, and students as they put important ideas to use for a better world

Strategy #1: Prepare faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, staff, and the broader Carolina community with the knowledge, skills, and connections necessary to translate new ideas into innovations.

Tactic #1: The Minor in Design

Description: The lack of  a formal college of engineering within the university has lead to a lack of supply for technical education. There is definitely some great technical programs on campus such as Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, and Environmental Engineering. But much of the design and engineering knowledge for these tracks of study are only attainable by students who have completed a large amount of science prerequisites, and have access to courses such as ENVR 451, Chemical Reaction Engineering. There was a similiar problem in the past decade of lack of innovation and entrepreneurial training for undergrads, it was mitigated by creating a minor of entrepreneurship within the College of Arts and Sciences. To mitigate this gap in technical education within the university we will be implementing an Interdisciplinary design minor within the College of Arts and Sciences. The Design minor will look to pull courses from many different disciplines across campus such as Biomedical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, Math, Information and Library Science, Biology, City Planning, and Journalism and Mass Communication which houses our department of graphic design. We hope to establish an introductory course that each member of e given cohort of the minor would take together, it would introduce the general concenpts of Design and attaining a deisgn state of mind. From that point on we hope to have multiple tracks specific to what a given student wants to work in, such as Visual Deisgn, Structural Design, Commerical Design, Scientific Deisgn, and any other relevant paths of design work. The minor will include either a required, internship, co-op, or Capstone design project experience. The ultimate goal of the minor implementation is to take the great environment we have here on campus for ideation and innovation and give each of these innovators and oppurtuntity to gain technical skills that will help their creative endeavors and post-graduation prospects.

Team Leaders: Teerth Brahmbhatt


  • Connect the departments across campus
  • Come up with the numerous tracks and interests on campus 
  • Currciculum overview and approval (work with other institutions to design the curriculum and implement it)
  • Find home department and facilities
  • Find Corporate or Local partners for experiential portion of the curriculum 
  • Raise Awareness of the program within our campus community
  • Fully implement within undergraduate Program/Curriculum 

Tactic #2: An Entrepreneurship-Driven Biomedical Engineering Design Curriculum

  • Description: Diversity of backgrounds, ideas, and expertise is essential to the success of a team.  This is especially true when that team is launching a venture.  The department of Biomedical Engineering has a series of three design courses that culminates in a Senior Design Project in which teams of biomedical engineering students work to develop products that address medical challenges.  Currently, these teams consist of 3-4 undergraduate biomedical engineering students; these teams lack the diversity in knowledge and skillset to fully develop and launch their ventures.  To facilitate the creation of more diverse teams, we will work with the Department of Biomedical Engineering to redesign the design courses in the department.  This redesign will:
  1. make the courses interdisciplinary by opening them to business and computer science students
  2. provide students with access to entrepreneurial resources
  3. integrate more entrepreneurship concepts into the curriculum
  4. establish a seed fund to provide students with capital to file for intellectual property protection or develop a proof-of-concept before seeking external investment
  • Team Leader(s): Mihir Pershad
  • Milestones:
    • Get approval of Chair of Biomedical Engineering and External Advisory Committee
    • Acquire grants or institutional funding for curriculum redevelopment
    • Create programming and curriculum
    • Find faculty and staff support
    • Contact alumni and community partners to establish seed fund
    • Work with community partners and faculty to develop final pitch event that puts student teams in front of potential mentors, investors, and advisors

Tactic #3: An Innovation and Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Community

  • Description: Creative ideas are best faciliated when in the right mindset. Being in a creative mindset means being surrounded by support, encouragement and often just an open ear for feedback. UNC has living and learning communities geared towards everything from sustainable living to immersive-language adaption programs. Yet there are 32 residence halls at UNC and only 9 living-learning communities. There is certainly the room and precedent for an LLC for innovation and entrepreneurship to come to Carolina. There is undoubtedly a need for a program like this where incoming students can live an immersive environment with creative, like-minded (yet diverse!) minds. The movement around innovation and entrepreneurship on campus is fastly growing, so the time is prefect to bring this program to life and equip the next class of entreprenurial students with the tools to pursue big ideas right at the beginning of their college careers.
  • Team Leader(s): Shannon Coy
  • Milestones:
    • Bring UNC's Department of Residence Hall Education on board
    • Gain financial backing for the program
    • Create programming and curriculum
    • Find faculty and staff support
    • Find the approriate location
    • Pilot the program in a residence hall

Strategy #2: Catalyze innovation at Carolina by facilitating the work of faculty, staff, and students as they put important ideas to use for a better world.

Interprofessional Collaboration Space:

  • Description: The opportunity for graduate and professional students to collaborate is limited. The current opportunities exist outside the scope of the normal experience for these students, either in co-curricular activities or self-initiated discovery. The main purpose of interdisciplinary electives is to teach the steps that everyone has in common, such as patient safety or simulation. These experiences are extremely valuable, although only open to a small set of students and highly structured based on common experiences among students, We have learned through past experiences in problem-based learning that too much direction is equally as detrimental as not enough. It is our opinion that the curricula of graduate and professional schools is overly structured, and there are an overwhelming number of negative incentives in place to collaborating with other disciplines and professions. There is also no dedicated space to open and deliberative sharing of ideas between the professions that draws students together. It is the hypothesis of this project that the creation of a self-directed learning space that is available, accessible, and approachable by students in the health professions and graduate programs will be able to serve as a catalyst for solving complex multidisciplinary problems in the related fields.
  • Team Leader: Alex Sherman
  • Milestones:
    • ​Environmental scan: Fall 2014
    • Small meetings with stakeholders in each school: Fall 2014
    • On-boarding and selection of development team: Fall 2014
    • Development of a project plan for creation of a joint space: Fall 2014
    • Proposal of project plan to stakeholders: Winter 2014
    • Implementation of joint space plan into new building development: Spring 2014
    • Formation of a joint, interprofessional, interdisciplinary, collaborative space: Fall 2015
  • ​Expected Activities in the Space:
    • ​The space will act as both a self-organized learning environment (SOLE) for graduate and professional students and a place for group work and projects between those students
    • Activities may include:
      • ​Facilitated discussions around topic catalysts related to problems in healthcare delivery
      • Reverse pitches from subject matter experts about problems in their fields of expertise
  • ​Rationale:
    • Bringing people together for the sake of bringing people together, with the simple intent of promoting open curiosity and inquiry, is a powerful tool for tackling complicated problems. This ability is currently unavailable across many professional and graduate school programs.

Tactic #2: Connecting UNC with the greater Research Triangle Park region and surrounding universities. 

Tactic #3: I&E Student Ambassadors for academic departments without an I&E Agenda at UNC

Students from every academic discipline and corner of the university possess the potential to employ the entrepreneurial framework to their ideas and there is some incredible research and new knowledge being produced at UNC. However, we do not have an efficient and effective way to capture much of this work and reach out to many of the faculty and students who do not traditionally fall in the I&E network. For example: English, Philosophy, History etc.
The goals of this approach are as follows:

  1. Bring a focus on innovation and the entrepreneurial framework to every department at UNC
  2. To find cutting research and innovative ideas that are being worked on and communicate it to the rest of campus in an effort to accelerate progress, magnify impact or inspire others to act
  3. Map with more granularity the innovative and entrepreneurial endeavors throughout the university so we can address their needs and market their work
  4. Encourage students and faculty in different departments to embrace entrepreneurial framework and take advantage of the momentum that’s building on campus for their respective work.
  5. Create a team of students who will be committed to creating I&E programming in different departments and finding students/faculty with ideas who could use the I&E network resources to further their work.


Team Leader: Rangoli Bhattacharjee


  1. Leverage the Chancellor’s Student Innovation Team to create a small team of 4 students who will lead this idea
  2. Identify academic programs/departments at UNC that have not communicated an I&E agenda
  3. Find students in each of these departments who are willing to be I&E Ambassador for these representatives
  4. Develop training for the I&E Ambassadors
  5. Provide these students ambassadors resources such as design thinking training and event management training such that they can host events and start conversations in each of these departments

Host a symposium/showcase (we host the Innovation Showcase every year) at the end of the year to invite faculty and students from these departments and officially welcome them into the I&E network. This will be chance for these departments to showcase their latest advancements and a chance for Innovate Carolina to understand how we can support them. 

Related Links

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Innovate @ Carolina Roadmap


Related links