Priorities:University of Pittsburgh Student Priorities

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The University of Pittsburgh is a well-known leader in innovation within the fields of engineering and medical research.  Translational research and entrepreneurship exist primarily at the institutional level.  Many organizations exist, like the Institute of Entrepreneurial Excellence, to give budding entrepreneurs the needed resources and inspiration to proceed from ideation to market.  In the last 20 years alone, such programs have created more than 800 startups and 7,000 jobs in the Pittsburgh area.  Between the sheer amount of research conducted and available seed funding (Coulter Program for bioengineering devices, other VC connections through Institute of Entrepreneurial Excellence) Innovation and Entrepreneurship needs only to be catalyzed to take off, since all necessary ingredients are in abundance at the University of Pittsburgh.

However, there is a huge gap on campus between these institutions and undergraduate students.  Most students are unaware of PantherlabWorks (a commercialization accelerator) and do not know that the university offers patent and IP counseling through the Office of Technology Management/Office of Enterprise Development.  At present, these institutions mainly serve graduate students and faculty. 

Fortunately, administrators are beginning to take a strong interest in university-facilitated patent development and product realization for undergraduate students.  Professors from the Industrial Engineering department will soon introduce a product realization certificate to span all majors and the chemical engineering department has recently revamped its sophomore and junior year curriculum to more intently convey design principles.  The mechanical engineering department, too, has been steadily increasing the focus on sustainability and marketability in undergraduate design classes, as in ‘MEMS 0024: Intro to Mechanical Engineering Design.’

Still, it is clear that there is more work to be done.  In many other disciplines, serious project management/design courses are not mandatory until senior year.  Further, freshman students are NEVER formally exposed to the opportunities of product development for engineers.  The best opportunities for undergrads to get involved in projects are in extracurricular clubs.  DesignHub, Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW), and Engineers Without Borders (EWB) are three of the strongest organizations on campus for completing actual projects with significant impact in local and global communities.

Fall 2019 Strategies

Strategy I: I&E Opportunities for all majors

Campus Change Vision: 


Currently there is only an I&E Certificate offered to students in the business school or engineering school. This limited offering excludes a huge population of students at Pitt that have potential interest in the I&E career.


To create a university-wide interdisciplinary certificate program where all students from all schools and majors have the ability to take courses towards completing an I&E certificate. Also create an inclusive innovation class to be offered to all majors as an intro course to the certificate program.

Tactic A: Developing a fully complete I&E certificate with administration to be offered to all undergraduate students

Milestone 1: Surveying a wide range of students

Use the Idea Blitz Booth ideas to gather data from a wide variety of students on how they would react to this opportunity presented to them by their school.

Milestone 2:Prototype Course Offerings

From our Landscape Canvas, we can easily see which courses are already being offered that can allow a variety of majors to participate in this certificate program while still taking I&E classes that relate to their major. Create a final list of these course offerings (especially for students that are in the Arts and Sciences School).


  1. Search the landscape canvas for potential courses that already exist.
  2. Gather support: Reach out to each individually to discuss the nature of the class and try to determine whether the course will satisfy what the I&E certificate's mission is.

Milestone 3: Finding a Home for the Certificate

Talk to Deans of the various schools to determine whether this certificate program would be home to the Honors College, Arts and Sciences, etc...

Bringing in Dean's of different departments (such as Biology, Philosphy, etc.) from these schools would be valuable as well.


Working with Administration

Get approval and financial support from stakeholders to create an offical course registration number for this certificate program will provide students with trust that this program is strong and worthwhile.

UIF Candidate progressing this project: Katelyn Morrison

Tactic B: Inclusive I&E Course

Milestone 1: Interview students who currently are enrolled in the certificate programs

By interviewing both students from CBA and SSoE, who are already commited to their I&E certicicates, we will be able to see the flaws within their respective programs and classes and introduce our new inclusive course. By seeing what is lacking in their I&E classes, we will be able to further improve our extensive introduction class prototype.

Milestone 2:Discuss the class with current professors

Ask the opinions of professors on the idea of the class and their personal input on how to make the class possible. Specifcally talk with professors who teach for the existing I&E certificates and see if they agree or disagree with our attempts at combining engineering and business core teaching into one class.

Milestone 3: Finalize course description

Make sure the course description reflects the findings from both students and professors, while conveying our ideas of combining the engineering and business core teachings.


Working with Dean of CBA and SSoE and President


  1. Present the course syllabus and description to the board of education.
  2. Find preferably two professors to work together on this class to incorporate the engineering and business aspects into the class.
  3. Advertise the class to students and offer it to students currently taking the I&E certificate course

UIF Candidate progressing this project: Claudia Jester

Strategy II: Create an energizing I&E ecosystem for incoming students


From some freshmen interviews that were conducted, we gained insight that some freshmen are not excited about innovation and entrepreneurship possibly because of how it is currently presented to them. After doing the landscape canvas, it was evident that there are no freshmen oriented programs, courses, or activities that have a mission to energize and excite the incoming students about I&E.


Tactic A: I&E Fall Festival

Milestone 1: Surverying the student population

This milstone will be useful in gauging the interest among the general student population and finding out whether or not they are actually interested in this idea. This will help us determine if creating a festival is a productive use of time.

Milestone 2: Securing a budget and setting a time and date for the festival

This milestone will help us transform the idea of the festival into a tangible and solid project for us to implement on campus. Having both a budget and a place to host the festival will allow us to plan it and put the final touches on getting it ready.

Milestone 3: Having the festival

Having the festival is the culmination of the planning and budgeting that has taken place so far. This is important as it is what actually allows us to expose the student body to innovation and entrepreneurship and get them excited about these topics!


Working with the Outside the Classroom Curriculum (OCC) Coordinator

Working with the OCC Coordinator will be a good starting point as she will be well versed in forming festivals and activities such as these ones. She will also be able to provide plenty of resources that we will be able to reach out to and discuss our plans with.

UIF Candidate progressing this project: Liz Petley

Strategy III: Multidisciplinary Collaboration of I&E Students


In order to encourage students from different schools within the University to work collaboratively within I&E, I propose that we facilitate an extracurricular group project system, wherein several projects run each semester with an overarching theme. Teams will be composed of 4 students from at least 3 different schools and projects will run for 6 weeks with the goals of building prototyping and design thinking skills, improving teamwork and communication, and I&E certificate credit.  

Project: I&E Projects (will need to come up with a catchy name)

Tactic A: 6 week interdisciplinary group projects


We will first need to meet with our stakeholders to discuss the feasibility and funding for these projects. One idea for a theme I have is campus and/or Oakland community improvements, but rules surrounding regulations and funding might be difficult to work around and will need to be well understood before we can launch any projects. We will also need to determine project budgets.


As I did in my prototype, the first step is to gather student interest across schools by promoting the program through flyering, emails, and distribution from departments within the school. Interested students will fill out a Google Forms survey to tell us key information like their year, major, availability, and existing skills.


Next we will hold an interest meeting to better explain the projects to interested students, who will then complete a brief application survey.


Based on the application results, we will form interdisciplinary student teams of 4. Depending on the freedome we have as agreed upon with the stakeholders, groups will then meet individually with us to propose a project idea or we will let them choose from a predetermined list. For campus/community improvements, projects might include things like creating an art display, an interactive exhibit for a specific building, or something to promote recycling. At the launch meetings, we will explain how the next six weeks will look for the teams and what we expect of them.


To kick off the projects, the teams will all go through a brief but intensive bootcamp to expose them to all the resources they have at hand as well as critical skills such as design-thinking and rapid prototyping.


Each week, each team will meet with us individually to share their progress in the previous week and their goals for the next week. During this time we will also review and course-correct their design plans if need be.


As the projects come to a close, they will officially launch in whatever way that means for them. E.g. An interactive piece opens for use


Working with Big Idea Center, Brandon Barber


UIF Candidate progressing this project: Sara Kron

Strategy IV: Creating a social atmosphere for I&E on campus


There are a lot of acadmic-backed programs, clubs, and activities that are offered to students to expose and encourage innovation and entrepeneurship. However, there is no social atmosphere for for encouraging and exposing innovation and entrepeneurship.


To startup an innovation fraternity on campus to gather like-minded students from a diversity of majors. This fraternity will be promote students gathering socially together in support of innovation. 

Tactic A: Implement an Innovation Fraternity on campus

Milestone 1: Gather input from students who rushed for fraternities/sororities

This step is vital to creating the fraternity becuase it will determine the success of the fraternity in the short run. It is important to gain inpuit frmo students who rushed for fraternities and sororities becuase they would be apart of the population data being collected. Since they rushed, gathering input if they would have chosen to rush for an innovation fraternity would provide a secure dataset to show interest and success in the creation of the frat.

Milestone 2:Create a mission and philanthroy

To finalize the proposal of the creation of this fraternity, the four UIF candidates need to sit down and finalize the mission, purpose, and goals of the creation of this fraternity.

Milestone 3: Open up the frat for rushing season

Once there is enough momentum for the fraternity to be successful, the next step is to make the fraternity a part of the options for students to rush to.


Working with Panhellenic Association

Working with the Panhellenic Association will be vital in trying to add this fratenity to the overall interfraternial council.

UIF Candidate progressing this project: Liz, Petley, Sara Kron, Claudia Jester, Katelyn Morrison

Spring 2017 Strategies

2017 Pitch Video: 

Strategy I: Spreading a Design Thinking Mindset

Project: Students across different departments do not get the same exposure to innovation and entrepreneurship resources that are available at the University of Pittsburgh. Along with that, the majority of freshmen are not introduced to all the resources we have that they can use.

Goal: To have an activities that introduce freshmen to design thinking and introduce them to all the resources on campus they have to help them create something amazing and impactful.

Tactic A: Developing a bare bones activity that can be tailored to a specific subject for different applications

Re-inventing the Name Tag activity can be deconstructed and re-focused to emphasize specific applications

Milestone 1: Prototype

Use the Panther Leadership Summit as a platform to see how re-focusing the name tag activity can show students how design thinking is applicable to leading student organizations.

Milestone 2: Designing Design Thinking Activities

Create a manual or other kind of resource that helps professors or students design an activity that shows how design thinking can be applied to their field or project. Deliver and test these activities at various meetings/events to develop and improve these resources.

Milestone 3: Engaging Professors and Leaders

Talk to professors who instruct design thinking related class and leaders of design thinking oriented organizations about putting on their own versions of the activity.


  1. Search the landscape canvas for potential courses and organizations
  2. Gather support: Reach out to each individually to discuss the nature of the class or organization and try to determine if a hands on design thinking activity would be beneficial
  3. Partner with anyone willing to try and help them set up and run the activity in their class.

Tactic B: Develop a Floating Design Thinking Lab

  • List of material needs for a basic design thinking workshop along with budget estimates
  • Supporting evidence that it is something worth investing in from prototypes and feedback from activities


Working with Administration

Get approval and financial support from stakeholders to build these resources on a larger scale.

Having faculty support before asking for finances may be a great lever

Strategy II: Promoting Social Ventures


Promote the expansion of innovation and entrepreneurship to students interested in non-tangible, social service-based organizations. Identify whether there is an interest among Arts and Science, Public Health, and Social Work students in seeing a space on campus for meeting and working with other social changers. If so, determine how best to fulfill student needs in learning how to start their own social venture, and also determine whether full- or part-time faculty have the capacity and time to serve in mentorship roles.

Project Idea: Create an advising space for students interested in social entrepreneurship

Target Audience: Students from Arts and Sciences. School of Public Health, School of Social Work who are currently somewhat excluded from the Innovation landscape on campus.

Steps to Completion

  1. Meet with faculty from aforementioned Schools to learn about their interest in serving in an advisory capacity for students interested in social I&E.
  2. Determine a space on campus which can serve as a space for resources- or determine whether an online database of faculty listings, funding sources, and directions on filing for nonprofit/tax-exempt status would be more appropriate and feasible.
  3. Meet with advisors from the College of General Studies to speak on expanding certificate program for Nonprofit Management to non-CGS students.

Primary Contacts and Resources

  1. Honors College: good source of funding for student ventures; staff are knowledgeable about community engagement and gaps that exist within Pittsburgh in promoting social change.
  2. School of Engineering: determine where funding came from for Innovation Institute projects and whether they can be extended to non-technology ventures.
  3. College of General Studies: determine whether staff who teach courses in the Nonprofit Management Certificate program are also knowledge about creating social venture start-ups; if so, speak to professors directly to ask about an additional role in serving as an advisor.

Strategy III: UIFresh activities

Tactic A: Hands on Design Thinking Intro Activity


Look into what other schools are doing with their UIFresh programs for inspiration, ideas, and leverage when pitching.


  • Use the resources developed in the previous strategy to design workshops for Orientation week
  • Make lists of resources and materials needed for these activities (in conjunction with the floating design thinking lab?)

Tactic B: Intro to the I&E Landscape Tour

Develop a “tour” of sorts for freshmen students to get familiar with all the resources they have on campus

Milestone 1: What resources?

Use the I&E Landscape and find the hot spot resources on campus. Parent organizations like Innovation Institute that host a lot of smaller activities that may not be beneficial for all freshman to know about, or organizations that would lead to other resources once involved.

Categorize the resources we have and which ones are most broadly applicable to freshmen

Milestone 2: What do the freshmen know?

Do interviews and surveys to see what quality resources the University has that freshmen don’t know about, and think they would use now that they do know about them.

Milestone 3: Put together a program

  • Analyze interview data and determine what information needs to be conveyed.
  • Ideate ways to present the information
  • Plan out solution with support from leaders and stakeholders, including what they think is important


Working with Administration and Orientation Staff

  • Get approval and financial support from stakeholders to hold these events
  • Meet with Orientation planners to work out details of space, times, mandatory vs. optional, and ways to reach the whole campus.

Strategy IV: Encouraging Transportation Innovation

Tactic A: Develop cooperative sustainable transportation space

Pittsburgh’s recent adoption of a 10 year plan to drastically expanding sustainable transportation infrastructure put it on track to become one of the most bike friendly cities in the country. Oakland residents are interested in participating in shaping the way transportation initiatives develop in this city.

Currently, the University of Pittsburgh provides little support for students opting to take advantage of sustainable transportation modes. While many neighborhoods throughout the city have activated local cyclists and pedestrians, Pitt has failed to engage its student population in these discussions.

In order to accomplish this goal, a group of students is developing a physical space in a high traffic area of campus to serve as a bicycle cooperative. Unlike a traditional bike-shop, this space will provide unlimited access to professional bike repair tools to student cyclists. Volunteer staff will serve as facilitators, but the primary goal of the space is to empower students with mechanical knowledge. In addition to regular mechanic and safety workshops, the space will host bi-annual transportation hackathons and act as a hub for organizing transportation programming..

Milestone 1: Find a space. (Completed January 5, 2017)

  • Secured a space beneath the Posvar passover and organized the relocation of all equipment currently occupying the space

Milestone 2: Engage Stakeholders. (Completed January 25, 2017)

  • Acquired $1,200 in funding from Student Government Board
  • Acquired $2,157 in funding from Pitt Green Fund
  • Acquired $1,000 in funding from Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation
  • Acquired funding for two student workers and all recurring expenses from Pitt Intramurals and Recreations
  • Scheduled meeting with Dean of Student Affairs (Feb 2, 2017) and all other relevant University entities

Milestone 3: Compete in Pitt Sustainable Solutions Competition

Strategy V: Corporate Engagement and the Design Process

Problem: Students don’t have a way to directly interact with employers to see what skills they really need to succeed in the real world. This can be changed by creating stronger opportunities for surrounding corporate companies to engage with students. I want to have companies supply real world problems to students so that entrepreneurial mindsets and efforts are used to solve said problems.

  1. If a student does not obtain an internship or co-op throughout their time as a co-op, then experience with companies is left to be a surprise for when they get their first job after graduation

Assumption: Students would enjoy and be able to gain valuable experience from applying their classroom knowledge to real-world problems that companies face on a day to day basis

  1. Students would also be able to apply entrepreneurial ideologies and innovative thinking to solve the problems that companies are coming in contact with.
  2. Students will be taken through the design process to show how problems are solved when large teams are present and thousands of dollars are on the line (corporate environment)

Tactic A

Utilize our pre-existing makerspace and allow companies to sponsor a night/week/month where students work to solve a real-world problem brought in by said company

Tactic B

Go on site visits to companies with students and have interactive demos

Tactic C

Allow current co-ops and interns to host build nights, where they give insight on how companies work and how you can apply an entrepreneurial mindset to

Engaging Stakeholders

Meet with stakeholders to discuss what we discovered and the ideas and plans we have.

  • Walk in or email stakeholders
  • Go outside of the school of engineering and get support from other schools as well

Ask for any financial or verbal/advertising help we may need.

Spring 2016 Strategies

Strategy I: Inspire and Forge Project Teams

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

Tactic A: Create Advisory Board/Panel to Promote I&E

•   Description: Students in the Pitt Business school are currently looking to launch an entrepreneurship club- one that would connect mixed groups of students to form cohesive teams (engineering, business, law, etc. students) and validate market potential.  In partnering with this effort, an advisory board for I&E would seek out possible projects and give them to an able team.  It would be the goal of such a board to find the need on campus for different products, looking for possible ideas in extracurricular clubs, professors, and perhaps, industry.  These projects would be assigned to a team that applies with a plan to complete them, and they would be guided to the IP resources on campus and eventually to the proper contacts in the Business school for marketing advice.    

•   Team Leader:: TBD

Tactic B: Host Seminars/Grand Challenges to Educate/Inspire

•   Description: Professors in the Engineering Education Resource Center (EERC), are in the process of applying for a grant to host seminars and challenge sessions for next semester.  As Innovation Fellows, we have been given the opportunity to help plan these events and hope to use them to foster support (especially at the freshman/sophomore level) for the movement.  Current seminar ideas include: Dinner with entrepreneurs, microGrant challenge, skill seminars. 

•   Team Leader:: TBD

Strategy II: Provide better innovation spaces

Initiative #1

Students on campus need more space to work on projects. These spaces will not only meet that need, they will also improve the innovative culture by giving students a home base, a hang out spot, where innovative communities can form.

In order to accomplish this goal, a group in the engineering school is starting an initial space in order to prove demand and bolster support. In the near future, we hope to expand the space and form multiple spaces, encompassing the entire scale of prototyping fidelity and providing the lowest posible barrier to entry to students in all schools at Pitt.

After the development of the makerspaces in the engineering school, additional spaces across campus with easier and more versatile accessibility to students of all majors is necessary to continually foster growth in design thinking and creative confidence for all students without unintentionally segregating student groups based on major or location. In this sense, mobile lab spaces that encourage low-tech, immediate solutions to all manners of creative problems, as well as collaboration of thought and ideals across different areas of study are required to come up with the next generation fo innovative and sustainable solutions with the constitution of multiple perspectives. 

Milestone #1: Find and Create a Space (Completed Jan 1st 2016)

•   Secured space in engineering building to serve as the first space. Space was remodelled and essentially inheirited as a blank slate.

Milestone #2: Form teams to manage the space (Initially formed Jan 19th)

The space is managed by 4 subteams. Each subteam has a team leader. All of the team leaders serve as the overall management team for the space, which is led by Zach Patterson. Dr. Buddy Clark serves as a faculty mentor & leader. Subteams are:

  • Equipment Team: In charge of keeping an equipment & materials wishist and maintaining equipment & materials in the room. Led by Nick Petro
  • Education & Training Team: In charge of training new users to use the space, creating training modules for equipment as it is added, and providing and stimulating ongoing education for members. Led by Kevin Gilboy
  • Users Team: In charge of accumulating key data for the space in order to form a quantitative value proposition for additional spaces. Also helps determine baseline requirements for room use. Led by Linday Pietz
  • Outreach Team: In charge of promoting the space both on and off campus. Seeks industry sponsors. Led by Reshef Elisha

Milestone #3: Have a completely organized, functional, highly used space
Date: April 2016

  • Paint and outfit the room to make it a more welcoming and thought provoking place
  • Set up equipment and materials in the room
  • Iron out the management scheme to ensure maximum efficiency and effectiveness
  • Maximize data tracking
  • Steadily increase traffic and cultivate a community
  • Secure industry sponsors

Milestone #4: Have a grand opening to kick off the new school year
Date: September 2016

After completely setting up the space, ensuring everthing runs smoothly, and perfecting our data tracking techniquies, we will begin to heavily promote the space in the new school year, holding events and doing our best to bring in more students than we have space and resources. By doing this, we hope to prove that demand has outgrown the space and that it is time to expand to more and better spaces. 

Milestone #5: Propose more and better spaces
Date: October 2016

The data collected over the course of the year will serve as the basis for a proposal to greatly increase the resources put into makerspaces and to rapidly expand our space to other location. We will propose both more spaces for general project work along with additional spaces for higher fildelity work.

Milestone #6: Begin a campuswide group of makerspaces
Date: Spring 2017

Using funding hopefully aquired from Milestone #5, we will scale up our proven management structure and launch additional spaces around campus

Initiative #2: Expand mobile creative labs for easier accessibity and diversity

Collaborating with the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute and multiple schools across campus, agents of innovation will be leading the development and integration of mobile creative spaces within student communities to instill generalized and technical design projects and initiatives based on case-by-case, topical choices made my collaborations of the creator lab development teams as well as affiliated active student communities.

Creator labs will focus more on the versatility and educational strength of the design thinking motif by providing models and methods that not only serve as bases for prototyping and ideation, but also the focus and subjectivity of different areas of study, including the natural sciences, engineering, expressive and visual arts, law, writing, public health, education, philosophy, etc. In particular, creator labs will allow creative and innovative students and thinkers from each school and club or organization across campus to experience not only generalized applied education on design thinking, but also focused learning and applied methods based on their field. Focused learning and methods within the framework of the creator lab will emphasize constitutive ideas and thoughts as a result of collaboration of multiple fields and areas of study within the parameters of a single field.

For instance, engineering concepts may fare very well in fostering new methods of problem-solving and solution conception within the scope of theater and the visual arts, provided enough guided investigation and collaboration is executed such that it is clearly shown that the problem parameters of the theater/visual arts framework coincide with the concepts and creative processes of the engineering framework. 

At the start of development (February 2016), the mobile creator lab concepts are conceptualized and elaborated with under the guidance of the University Innovation Fellows spring 2016 cohort, the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute, and student leaders and liaisons of multiple clubs and organizations that serve as great potential for change-making hosts of the mobile creator labs. Aakash Sudhakar (current University Innovation Candidate) serves as the main student leader of developing and integrating mobile creator labs within the Pitt community. 

Initiative #3: Develop student networks for enhanced creative sustainability

As a mirror to the objectives of Intiative #2: Expand Mobile Creative Labs For Easier Assibility and Diversity, it is important for students across campus who have versatility and experience in design thinking and the creative processes, especially within the scopes and frameworks of different majors, to have a community where they can come together with other like-minded students and students with minimal experience in design thinking and creative confidence to collaborate and refine thinking and problem-solving models. Much of what the University Innovation Fellows program does is a generalized framework for which to apply into specific problems and scenarios, but much of the success of those potential applications is very difficult to know as the student problems across campus can be difficult to identify, track and codify within the design thinking and creative confidence frameworks. 

To help develop and institutionalize a program that would better allow agents of innovation across campus to be aware and able to assist with these student issues, it is important to allow much of the power and ability of these problem-solving abilities to be in the hands of student leaders, activists and representatives throughout the Pitt community. Developing a mentorship network that focuses on student-to-student interaction and topical problem identification and solution scenarios serves not only as a type of exercise for refining design thinking and creative process models, but also encourages further investigation in areas of the Pitt student community that may be affected by issues outside of the immediate awareness of the University Innovation Fellows program. 

At the start of development (February 2016), the student creative network concepts are conceptualized and elaborated with under the guidance of the University Innovation Fellows spring 2016 cohort, the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute, and student leaders and activists across campus in the form of the ideation of a new club called the Pitt Master Minds network, inspired by a statement by Andrew Carnegie that a Master Mind is a "coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose." Aakash Sudhakar (current University Innovation Candidate) serves as the main student leader of developing and promoting the use of design-based student creative networks within the Pitt community. It is important to note that the potential club will be affiliated with organizations and groups outside of Pitt, including mentorship networks and other Master Mind groups that can help provide problem scenarios and creative topics to direct Pitt's Master Mind network in innovative and constructive directions. 

Strategy III: Increase awareness of I&E in the Arts and Science Progrograms 

Tactic A: Advertising

•   Description: The Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences currently does not have an effective way to advertise innovation, entrepreneurship, and design thinking programs. In order to A&S to establish a stronger presence in the innovation and entrepreneurship community, there needs to be a better method of advertising programs available to students and increase communication between colleges. •   Team Leader: Emily Klonicki (current microbiology candidate) 


  • Form a marketing committee
  • Newsletter/ email list
  • Speak to classes
  • Have teams from A&S compete and participate in I&E programs

Tactic B: Recruiting potential project teams

•   Description: Currently, Pitt provides multiple I&E programs available for students such as the Blast Furnace, Big Idea competition, Hackathons, Design Expo and, the Series. However, most participants come from either the business or engineering school. By recruiting potential project teams from A&S to participate in these programs, it will help establish an innovation and entrepreneurship community in this college. Team Leader: Emily Klonicki

Tactic C: Provide a space for A&S students

•   Description: In the long term, with increasing student support we would hope to establish a space for A&S students to have low resolution prototyping material and whiteboards available for student use. Another future goal is to increase active learning opportunities within the classroom and for A&S students develop their own programs and hackathons which could be held in this space. Team Leader: Emily Klonicki

Strategy IV: Change Curriculum 

Tactic A: First Year Classes

•   Description: Students at each of the schools at University of Pittsburgh are required to take an introductory class their freshman year. We could incorporate design thinking or innovation and entrepreneurship into the curriculum.

  • In Spring 2015, the engineering school launched The Art of Making, a course initially designed for freshmen honors engineering students. The course is a demanding journey through the world of design thinking and rapid prototyping. Students leave the course having been introduced to a wide array of prototyping skills in fabrication, electronics, pretotyping, etc. More importantly, students gain the confidence to be doers and the background to better learn and apply material from theoretical coursework to come. As a cherry on top, the course drastically improves students' ability to choose a major within engineering as they get much better exposure to the sorts of things that different engineers might do. 
    The course has since been adapted for upperclassmen students both in and outside of engineering as an elective. Students who have participated in the course have gone on to be leaders in project based clubs and other similar endeavors.
    Dr. Joe Samosky is the preofessor and creator of the course. Many Pitt UIFs and UIFCs are co-creators and original TAs of the course including Nate Smialek, Zach Patterson, Brian Rhindress, Madhur Malhotra, and Ian McIntyreJenny Sommer is currently a TA for the Spring 2016 offering.

Tactic B: Provide an Interdisciplinary Entrepreneurship Class

•   Description: Currently, Pitt has entrepreneurship and design thinking classes in all three schools. However, each class is only allowed to be taken by students from their respective schools. Pitt should add a course that allows students to take a class about innovation, design thinking and entrepreneurship that is open to all disciplines. That would allow students to see how to approach these problems from various viewpoints and will lead them to more creative thinking due to the interdisciplinary collaboration.

Tactic C: Give credit to entrepreneurs

•   Description: Pitt offers credit to students with internships and research on campus. Pitt could apply the same thing to entrepreneurial ventures which would allow students to manage their time more effectively because their projects would go back to school credit.

Strategy V: Startup Pitt

Innovation cannot thrive in a bubble. Entrepreneurship is up-and-coming in Pittsburgh, and it’s important that undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Pittsburgh are exposed to this awesome movement. Ian is experiencing the entrepreneurial drive first-hand. Regardless of the value of his bioengineering degree, Ian pondered dropping out of school after his startup was admitted into the Alphalab Gear Accelerator program. Ian has feet in both realms: one in the University, one in the community. At the University, Ian is watching groups of students practicing design thinking, innovation, and entrepreneurship, all which are valuable skills for those involved in startups. These students are driven and searching to use what they learn in the classroom on real-world projects. On the other side, Ian is (somewhat firsthand) witnessing the need for startups to hire interns with engineering, design, and business experience.  In fact, Ian worked as an intern with his project to further the technological and business development before the thought of commercialization occurred. Why can’t other interns help young startups succeed?

Startup Pitt is a smaller-scale model of Venture for America, a program that places recent college graduates in startups throughout the country. VFA Fellows have been instrumental in building businesses and helping startups succeed. Likewise, Startup Pitt interns will help Pittsburgh startups become successful while earning salary and a valuable internship experience. Of course, Startup Pitt keeps to it’s title: starting-up Pittsburgh as a center of entrepreneurship.

Program Specifics

The Startup Pitt process may be compared to an engineering cooperative-education (co-op) program, an educational program that places engineering students in an established company or engineering firm. A co-op student works for three semesters -- one full year -- with a schedule negotiated between the employer and student. A student may alternate between work and school semesters; work in the fall, assume classes in the spring, work in the summer, assume classes in the fall, etc. On the other hand, a company may want a student to work for a year through, during which time the student would not return to classes. There are subjective benefits and disadvantages to each schedule setup that vary with students and courses of studies. However, a  co-op trumps a traditional internship in that a student maintains full-time student status during the co-op semesters. Full-time student status permits a student to reside in on-campus dormitories and receive all the stipulations of being a student. A co-op student does not pay tuition unless she enrolls in night classes.

Startup Pitt provides a flexible hiring duration for startups and for students who are looking for an internship.  While a co-op is expected to work for three semesters, the Startup Pitt program adapts to the needs of the intern and the startup to satisfy both parties. For example, if a startup can only hire a student for one semester, Startup Pitt may provide an intern who appreciates the short-term work experience that will not delay graduation. Furthermore, Startup Pitt provides internships to not only engineering students, but also business students, students of design, and students who possess skillsets desired by a Pittsburgh startup. Startup Pitt allows a more flexible internship duration.

Finances hinder a startup’s ability to hire appropriate help. The Startup Pitt program acknowledges that startups may want to hire an intern but may not be able to afford an intern. Startup Pitt works with departments and organizations at the University of Pittsburgh as well as the supporters of Pittsburgh incubators to subsidize the pay for an intern. In this manner, a startup receives extra help to grow a business without the concern of paying an intern, and an intern receives pay while gaining valuable work experience.


All objectives and tasks in the timeline are subject to change.

Customer discovery (March 2015)

Identify the needs of students at the University of Pittsburgh. Student groups include engineering students, business students, and those involved in I&E activities. Channels to reach students include department and program coordinators, seminars, and student / faculty organizations. Survey questions include
  • Would you (students) be interested in working for a startup?
  • How important is maintaining your full-time student status?
  • For how many academic semesters could you see yourself working an internship at a startup?
  • Why does working at a startup interest you?
  • What kinds of skills do you believe are needed to be successful with growing a startup?
  • Would you be willing to potentially delay your graduation?
  • How much pay (hourly rate) would you see yourself making while interning at a startup?

Identify the needs of startups in Pittsburgh incubators and accelerators, such as startups involved in Alphalab, Alphalab Gear, Thrill Mill, Idea Foundry, and Revv Oakland.  Survey questions include
  • Do you believe a college student pursuing an engineering / business / etc. major could make a contribution to your startup as an intern?
  • What skills would you look for in a student intern for your startup?
  • How long would you hire a Startup Pitt intern?
  • If at all, how much could you afford to pay a Startup Pitt intern?
  • If the Startup Pitt inter’s pay was subsidized through the University of Pittsburgh and/or your accelerator/incubator, would you be more likely to hire a Startup Pitt intern?

Prototype financial infrastructure (April 2015)

Coordinate with the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute, the Swanson School of Engineering, the College of Business Administration, and the investor networks who support Pittsburgh incubators/accelerators to assess the potential of subsidizing a Startup Pitt’s hourly pay. Establish the value of Startup Pitt with each supporter, and evaluate how much each supporter is willing to contribute to a Startup Pitt intern. 

Future tasks

  • Discuss program with University of Pittsburgh administration. Investigate potential of maintaining full-time student status during employment (May 2015)
  • Formulate a faculty and student committee to evaluate student applications (June 2015)

Strategy VI: Build an Entreneurship Community at Pitt Business


Options are currently being explored to incorporate entrepreneruship modules into business general education classes in order to spark interest in the subject and familiarize Pitt Business students with the large amount of resources available. It is important to get students where they are "captive" in the classroom setting and monitor our conversion rate from there to the workshops being offered on campus.

Enactus Spring 2016 Action Plan:

Entrepreneurship Cafe During the spring semester, Enactus and Pitt Business will host several "Entrepreneurship Cafe" sessions in which students, Entrepreneurs in Residence, and other I&E leaders will mingle and share ideas about innovation and entrepreneurship. Student participants are encouraged to come with ideas and topics they would like to discuss with the mentors present at the event. The concept is meant to foster a more organic approach to entrepreneurship and create an informal environment where people can share ideas and learn from each other. 

Entrepreneurship Showcase Momentum Plan:

  1. Winning teams will be awarded a $100 stipend to work with Enactus as a project. They will also be provided financial guidance from the Enactus Finance Team (Josh Ordos and Bruce Baka)
  2. Teams will be matched with a mentor or leader in the community through the Enactus Leadership Team and provided access to the BAB.
  3. Winning teams will be given priority access to talk to speakers at all Enactus events and will also have the opportunity to get relevant site visits paid for by Enactus.
  4. The Enactus Club will provide Lean Canvas model-training sessions to the winning teams during the course of semester.
  5. The winnings teams will also have the opportunity to obtain intern support or additional team member support from Enactus club members.
  6. Teams that continue to partner with Enactus as a sponsored project will be encouraged to compete at the regional and national competitions to earn more startup funding. 

BAB (Business Advisory Board) Plan: 

  1. The BAB must be available to provide guidance to all winning teams at the Entrepreneurship Showcase hackathon.
  2. They must also be accessible to any other Enactus projects at least once per month.
  3. Each BAB member will serve to connect Enactus with at least one speaker per semester.
  4. Each BAB member will be used to organize at least one site visit per semester for Enactus.
  5. Each BAB member will be used as a project specific mentor to at least one Enactus team per semester.
  6. The BAB members must attend at least one site visits, general body meeting, or speaker event in order to provide Enactus students with clear access to the BAB Board.
  7. Recruitment - (Mario)

Food Waste/Related Momentum Plan:

 1.    Enactus will operate at least one food waste/related project this semester.

a.     This will be organized and led by Hope Murray and it is already in the planning.

2.    Enactus will hold 2 food waste related speakers.

a.     Tentatively: Hungry Harvest in March (Grant)

b.    Tentatively: Executive Chef at Sodexo (Rhonda + Audrey)

3.    Enactus will hold 2 food waste/related site visits this semester.

a.     Farm Truck Foods – A Food Waste Site Trip

b.    CMU Food Truck – A Food Waste Site Trip

c.     412 Food Rescue – A Food Waste Industry Speaker

4.    Enactus will also serve to connect students to startups in food related industries.

a.     The goal is to connect at least one Enactus member to a food industry related intern position in spring or summer 2016. 

Site Visit, Speaker Event, and Projects Goals: 

1.    Enactus will operate at least three projects this semester.

2.    Enactus will run at least 1 site visit per month.

a.     2 entrepreneurship related site visits:

                                               i.     TBA (Rhonda)

                                              ii.     TBA (Cathy Lada)

3.    Enactus will run at least 1 speaker event per month at general club meetings.

a.     2 entrepreneurship related speakers:

                                               i.     Tim Zak, Director of CMU’s Social Innovation Institute – A Global Perspective Talk (Rhonda + Cathy Lada)

                                              ii.     Nicole Muise-Kielkucki, Director of Social Enterprise Initiatives at Idea Foundry – Supporting Social Entrepreneurs Talk (Rhonda)

Regional and National Enactus Event Plan

1.    Regional: March 29th Washington D.C.

a.     Application Due Date: February 22nd

b.    Projects

                                               i.     Hope Murray – Food Truck/Membership College Café

                                              ii.     Mario – Student/Faculty Pet Day Care – Volunteers are Students

                                             iii.     TBA – Expecting 1 more project from new members this semester

                                            iv.     TBA – Expecting 1-3 more projects from the Entrepreneurship Showcase 

2.    National Event: May 15th-17th in St. Louis

a.     Due Date: TBA

b.    Projects

                                               i.     TBA

3.    Regional and National Events Planning Team

a.     Sophia Tan

b.    Mario Nicolia

c.     Grant Jacoby

d.    Hope Murray

e.    Demetra Mallios

Additional Groups and Organizations to Contact

1.     Food Recovery Network - For additional members and project ideas (TBA)

a.     Are there any other organizations that may consider co-membership to run the food truck? (TBA)

2.     University Innovation Fellows - For additional leadership assistance (Grant)

3.     Engineers for A Sustainable World - For additional members and project ideas (Grant/Engineer?)

4.     All Innovation Institute Events - For additional members and project ideas (TBA)

5.     Randall Family Big Idea - For additional members and project ideas (TBA)

6.     Thrill Mill – For internship opportunities for students (Grant)

7.     Design Hub - For additional members and project ideas (Mario)

      • TBA - Need to find a recruiting chair for Enactus ASAP to go to all entrepreneurship events on campus to push meetings, events, and site visits

Future Goals and Standards 

1.     Food Hackathon September 2016

a.     Audrey - Can we start to organize a food hackathon for the beginning of the fall semester?

b.     Use this as a springboard for marketing attention for new membership.

2.     Enactus Leadership Requirements:

a.     1 site visit per month

b.     1 speaker per month

c.      At least 3 projects per any given semester

d.     1 industry focus per semester (can be multiple semesters)

e.     Participate in Regional Competition Annually

3.     Connect at least one student to a startup internship per semester in order to create a stronger internship network in the entrepreneurial community.

4.     Organize at least 1 hackathon per semester with another organization.

a.     Partner with at least one other CBA organizations to promote interdisciplinary relationships. </div>

Spring 2016 Pitch

Related Links

University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh Student Priorities

University Innovation Fellows

Fall 2019:

Claudia Jester

Sara Kron

Liz Petley

Katelyn Morrison

Spring 2017:

Tiffany Smith

Daniel Yates

Sean O'Brien

Shruthi Shankar

Sinjon Bartel

Spring 2016:

Mark Doman

Grant Jacoby

Emily Klonicki

Zach Patterson

Aakash  Sudhakar

Spring 2015:

David Jacob

Madhur Malhotra

Ian McIntyre

Harinee Suthakar

Fall 2014:

Jennifer Sommer

Fall 2013:

Brian Rhindress

Nathan Smialek Fall 2012: Karuna Relwani</div></div>