Priorities:Villanova University Student Priorities

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The most paramount issue plaguing Villanova’s campus is the reputation of innovation and entrepreneurship. As a school that in many ways encourages the traditional path of education, graduate schooling and entry into the corporate world, many people do not respect the seemingly eccentric and unproductive façade that covers the world of innovation. Measures need to be taken to show students on campus, from nurses to business students, engineers to scientists, that innovation can help them progress professionally and personally to wherever they plan to be in the near or distant future. The way that this can be done is first through the transfer of knowledge. Innovation, as a mindset, a tool, or a method, will gain respect with the creation of an Innovation Council Board that can operate in tandem with the Villanova Entrepreneurial Society. The council can publicize under-appreciated events and opportunities at Villanova, as well as create their own. The innovation ecosystem can be further united through the creation of a comprehensive Entrepreneurship Minor Program, and the birth of a maker space on campus, in which students of all disciplines will be able to collaborate. Through these few methods, the terms and activities associated with "innovation" and "entrepreneurship" will lose their stigma and become more vibrant on campus, creating lasting changes that will effect thousands.

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Understanding Innovation & Uniting Campus

Strategy 1: Comprehensive Minor Program

Currently, Villanova offers an Entrepreneurship minor for students in the School of Business, and an Engineering Entrepreneurship minor for students enrolled in the College of Engineering. Meanwhile, the Beyond Ideas Committee functions largely to unite the five colleges of Villanova through entrepreneurship events. The events the committee holds can only be so effective if these students return to their respective colleges and entrepreneurship programs afterwards. If colleges were uprooted by their segregated bases and the entrepreneurship minor was universal to all students, this would open up a new realm of collaboration.

A few major milestones have occured that benefit Villanova Entrepreneurs

  • During the Fall of 2014, members of the Business and Engineering Entrepreneurship Minors had class together once a week and formed interdisciplinary teams. This allowed the teams to become more successful with the greater pool of knowledge available. Since this was the first year where such a large scale collaboration happened, there were some kinks, however the overall teams benefitted.
  • The administration that is in charge of the Engineering Entrepreneurship Minor is talking about opening the minor up to non-engineering students

Strategy 2: Expanding the Reach of Innovation

As of date, Villanova has two minor that focus on entrepreneurship: the Engineering Entrepreneurship Minor which is open to all engineering students, and the Entrepreneurship Minor, which is open to the business and liberal arts and sciences  students. There is no major which focuses on innovation. There are graduate degrees in sustainabilty, which have innovation heavy components. These courses are in the process of being filtered down into the undergraduate cirriculums. There is an increasing demand for more entrepreneurship and sustainabilty courses for undergraduates, and if these were offered as co-majors, they would be successful.

Between the two, entrepreneurial minors, most of the Villanova Campus has assess to innovative paths, however there is one group that is overlooked, the nursing students. The nurses do not have their own entrepreneurial minor, or innovation space. The only way that they can experience entrepreneurship is through the ICE CaPS program for sophomores, which only meets eight times throughout the course of a year. 

Strategy 3: Innovation Council Board

An Innovation Council Board could be created to bring about organization and form a central location for innovative activity and action. The Council Board will be interdisciplinary, with representatives from all colleges at Villanova, including graduate students and professors, to advise the board. The board will unite all sides of campus and have two main purposes, as detailed in the following section.

Strategy 4: Publicity & Events

There are two main issues that an Innovation Council Board could attack and resolve:

Existent Opportunities Villanova. With 6,500 undergrads, graduate students, and Philadelphia within reach, Existent Opportunities Villanova offers a plethora of opportunities. Guest speakers, workshops, conferences, networking events, and more are all highly-frequent occurrences. However, many of these opportunities are not taken advantage of by many students. For example, during the most recent TEDx Villanova hosted an incredible collection of speakers, but the student attendance did not even reach the capacity set by TEDx. An Innovation Council board could become a hub for all innovative activity on campus. It could fill gaps in advertising and publicity where other groups are lacking to ensure all students are aware of their opportunities.

Spreading Knowledge. The necessity of spreading the knowledge of innovation is a theme in the student priorities for Villanova. A Council Board could host events in which they can educate students about what innovation is all about and how it can help them. Workshops meant to inspire students would ignite innovation through campus.

Strategy 5: New Facilities

Villanova has recently undergone major renovations that benefit innovation and entrepreneurship

  • The College of Engineering has two interdisciplinary innovation labs
  • The School of Business has new innovation classroom and technological centers
  • 3d Printer and lab
  • An Idea Accelerator and Tinkerer's Workshop

Some ideas that Villanova is in the process of pursing:

  • Innovation Lab Wing and Student Commons at the College of Engineering

Ideas that Villanova has planned for the future:

  • New technological center at the School of Business

Opportunities for Innovation in Action

Strategy 1: Creating a Maker Space

Villanova currently has a Multidisciplinary Design Lab which provides a location for students to work. However, students would truly benefit from another maker space. The additional maker space should have more resources within it for prototyping, and be more open to movement (as the MDL is separated into table sections) so students can collaborate with ease. The existent MDL is also frequently overcrowded, preventing students from working there if they did not put in the forethought to reserve their own area for the time period in which they plan to work. This formulaic planning to brainstorm or collaborate nearly defeats the purpose of having an MDL. A new maker space will have more room for students to freely walk in whenever they feel inspired. Villanova is currently working on an expansion of the Center for Engineering Education and Research which will include the development of an innovation space in the library and a tinkerer's lab in the basement of the building with a close proximity to the existent machine shop. These spaces should provide students with more of the resources and physical space they need to create.

Strategy 2: Accessibility & Usage

As aforementioned, there are certain restrictions the current MDL imposes upon students who wish to utilize it. The maker spaces that are created need to be highly accessible to students, and while students are there it should optimize their ability to create. Ideally, the spaces will be large enough for all students who wish to use it to be able to do so without reserving their spot beforehand. If not, a simple system should be created for dividing time between student groups. All students should be able to access at least a limited time in an environment in which they will not be cramped and overcrowded so they can move and create in the most productive way possible. An additional resource that could be of use is "Entrepreneur Office Hours" in these maker spaces. These could be fulfilled by the Entrepreneur in Residence, or any of the Entrepreneurship professors who have gone through the process of ideating, prototyping, and bringing their own products to market on numerous occasions. This could be a very useful resource for students to exploit as they struggle through the process for the first time. By having these office hours in the maker space itself, it will be easier for the professionals to collaborate with students as they work, instead of holding these conversations in constricted office environments.

Strategy 3: Workshops

Many students do not utilize the machine shop, 3D printer, and various other technologies made available to them because they are unaware of how to operate them. Workshops given by fellow students or instructors about how to operate all available machinery, or how to use certain programs, will help students take advantage of all that is available to them and gain the technical skills they need to create.

Strategy 4: Idea Accelerator Expansion/Awareness

The Idea Accelerator is a brand new facility that is starting to be more utilized by students accross all disciplines. There is space and equipment for entrepreneurs to design whatever paper napkin idea that they have designed. During the weekends there are workshops and speakers to help interested students discover what they can gain from and what they can give to innovation and entrepreneurship. We hope to create more of a response and awareness at these events, bringing heavier crowds into the ICE Center. This area will help future innovators gain the knowledge and practice to make their ideas realities. With such a new building, it is necessay to make this resource known amongst the student body.

Related Links

Campus Overview

Student Priorities

University Innovation Fellows:

Albert Tebbetts

Lauren Atkins

Abbey Buckenheimer

Erik Koehr

Sarrah Truong

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Villanova Landscape Canvas Spreadsheet

Villanova Business Model Canvas

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