School:Washington State University

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Campus Overview

The presentation below gives an overview of some of Washington State University's Entrepreneurial and Innovation opportunities. Some of the premier programs related to innovation and entrepreneurship at the WSU Pullman Camus are explained in detail below.  Most of the programs focus on student's business and communication skills in addition to encouraging engineering prototyping and innovation. 

University Innovation Fellows at Washington State University

University Innovation Fellow Spring 2017 Kevin Wolfrom, Kiera Rust, Alyssa Norris, Bardya Banihashemi

University Innovation Fellow Spring 2016: Mitchell ScottRyan PitzerVictor Charoonsophonsak

University Innovation Fellow Spring 2014: Amber Graviat

University Innovation Fellow Spring 2013: Viviana Tran

Promoting student innovation and entrepreneurship

At Washington State University, students are highly encouraged to explore innovation and entrepreneurship through various mediums on both the entrepreneurial perspective of the Carson College of Business and also the innovation Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture.  Apart from these two colleges, there are many entrepreneurial activities and opportunities, however, they are seemingly separate from the rest of campus and there is not much opportunity for students of different disciplines, except for select students in the Carson College of Business and the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture.  The college of business houses the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, an entrepreneurship major is offered along with an entrepreneurship minor for students not in the Carson College of Business here. The department also offers up various programming opportunities for entrepreneurship throughout the school year like the Business Plan Competition and Pizza and Pitch night events. From the innovation perspective, the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture provides students with maker spaces, research facilities, and student organizations to encourage innovation. These facilities and opportunities provide our students with the ability to develop innovative ideas. Our campus is working hard to continually integrate and combine both aspects of innovation and entrepreneurship through programs such as the Harold Frank Fellows and the Boeing Scholars Program. These are the types of promotional events that encourage students to collaborate and come up with entrepreneurial and innovative ideas that change the world.  While these opportunities exist, and are open to all students the biggest challenge is that students do not always know about these resources, and do not have the opportunity to colloborate together on projects. 

Encouraging faculty innovation and entrepreneurship

The WSU Center for Entrepreneurial Studies has an incredible program to promote various faculty members and their venture ideas. Not only does this further the innovation and entrepreneurship idea throughout the faculty members, but this will also help in changing the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem here at WSU by encouraging students to also participate and further their ideas towards these goals as well. Through the WSU Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, faculty members who have created start-ups are able to mentor and provide guidance to students who are interested in pursuing their own start-up idea and having an impact to innovation and entrepreneurship here at WSU.  This is a great addition and resources, however, it would be more beneficial if students were more involved in research with professors and were able to have a more hands-on experience.

Actively supporting the university technology transfer function

At Washington State University, we have several incredible resources to pursue venture ideas for students and faculty. The Office of Commercialization provides students and faculty to ensure that innovations and discoveries by WSU researchers are evaluated, protected where possible, and prepared for licensing by third parties. the office supports the goal of translating research discoveries into innovations into the marketplace. These funding sources and support truly assist in the pursue of innovation and entrepreneurship here at Washington State University but they are not currently advertised to students until they have graduated or come across it by chance. 

Facilitating University-Industry collaboration

Various technology spaces, regional sources of capital, and advisory efforts exist at Washington State University to facilitate the university and industry collaboration for the innovation and entrepreneurial ideas. Research labs such as the Engineering and Teaching Research Labs and the WSU Research Park provide students and faculty spaces to perform their research and find these innovative ideas. The MME Cougar Shop also provides a manufacturing space to create prototypes and test the innovation ideas that come about here at Washington State University. Sources such as the Washington Research Foundation and the Office of Commercialization assist in providing funding and capital investments to fund and further the ideas that originate from the research labs. Mentoring and advising as offered by the Harold Frank Office and the Development Office for the Voiland College of Engineering Architecture assist in pursuing those ideas and further the process of commercialization.  There are also senior design courses that are partnerships between companies such as Boeing and KPFF that facilitate and encourage university and industry collaboration. 

Engaging with regional and local economic development efforts

There are a few different ways in which Washington State University can be more involved with local economic development efforts. First, there are two incubators in the region which help foster high-tech startups. Many of the companies in these incubators have alumni from Washington State University. Second, there are large economic development efforts from Spokane, Washington. Getting involved with the Spokane Angel alliance with be a productive way of engaging with the local economy. Currently, the most engaged local company is Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories which hires students and helps with many university events.

Programs Offered at WSU

Business Plan Competition

The WSU College of Business hosts the Business Plan competition. The competition exists to give student entrepreneurs the opportunity to practice business in a real-world setting. The Business Plan Competition is key to rounding out academic and outreach efforts—bridging theory and application for students who participate.

The business competition has expanded and reaches out past WSU. Competitiors from different schools and around the world come to Pullman to present their ideas for the future.. 

Learn more about the competition by contacting Marie Mayes at  information can also be found at

WSU Harold Frank Entrepreneurship Program

The Harold Frank Engineering Entrepreneurship Institute conssits of engineering and business students who are interested in technological entrepreneurship. The program refines the business skills of WSU students ad promotes innovation whem designing business plans. 

More information can be found at

Innovation Assessment Center

The Washington State Innovation Assessment Center (IAC) has provided evaluation services to individuals and small businesses throughout the world. An IAC early stage market assessment will help one to make changes to their product for a brighter innovated future.

More information can be found at

Student Priorities


Washington State University is a college that focuses on programs and opportunities in innovation for the student body. All the programs offered on the campus are focused around specific disciplines and give each student the opportunity to network within their field of interest. Even though Washington State University has limited connections due to its location, there is a strong alumni base that offers various opportunities to students.


Strategic Plan #1: Increasing Awareness in Innovation and Entrepreneurship

These opportunities that have the potential to shift the way WSU teaches Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the classroom.

Pitch Workshop

Many students at WSU have great ideas for engineering designs, potential businesses, or interesting projects to work on. The problem, however, is that many of these students do not know how to refine their ideas or access some of the resource's we have on capmus. Our plan is to create the first WSU pitch workshop where students will have the ability to work with like minded individuals on an idea while also getting coaching from experts in various fields. At the ptich work shops, there will be a special focus on promoting awareness for WSU resources. 

Resource Nights

Resource Nights are part of a 6-week program that offers students the chance to talk to alumni who have created start-ups. They are held in the Spring and run the first 6 weeks into the Spring semester. The speakers' backgrounds are varied and they offer valuable insight on various topics. This program is limited to students who are taking specific courses at WSU. The goal would be to open this up to all disciplines on the campus and give students within STEM programs the opportunities to gain the same knowledge. 

Plan of action:

  • Work with the College of Business and Engineering to gain speakers and to network
  • Find local businesses that will support the events

Harold Frank Entrepreneurship Program

The Harold Frank Engineering Entrepreneurship Institute is made up of junior-level engineering and business students who are interested in technological entrepreneurship. The program aims to give students the tools and experiences they need to pursue their ideas. This program also promotes students to be involved on-campus and apply for the business competition offered in the spring. It focuses on creating cohesion between the college of engineering and the college of business. This program gives the students a real experience of the process of working with others with different backgrounds while getting the experience of starting a business from scratch. To be a part of this particular program, there is an application process; however, a majority of the classes in this program are offered to all students. The goal is to make students more aware of the courses within this program that available to them. 

Frank Innovtion Zone:

The Frank Innovation Zone (FIZ) is the first WSU maker space intended for multidisciplinary groups. Existing in the WSU engineering building, the FIZ has several tools to help bring student ideass to life:

  • Collaberative tables with TV monitors
    • ​The walls of the FIZ have large TV screens on them which allows students to hook up their labtops for group projects. This makes doing homework and other projects easier as all memebers can view what is being worked on.
  • Laser cutter
    • ​The laser cutter can take CAD models and use the specified dimensions to cut out either plastic or wood to help bring student ideas to life.
  • ​Wood/Metal fabrication shop
    • ​The wood and metal fabrication shop has many wood working tools to help shape or cut designs of various materials.
  • 3D printing shop
    • ​The 3D printing lab has several variations of 3D printers for plastic design
  • Electrical circuits shop
    • The electrical circuits shop has various tools to help bring electronic designs to life. Soldering machines is one of the tools they have avaliable

Speaker Events

WSU has now hosted two TEDx's, however, there was some confusion about the requirements two years ago, so the university has now integrated some of the best parts of TEDx, including the style of presentations, with some of the things that students would like to see, including more panels.  One major challenge with hosting TEDx was that there was a limited number of students who were able to attend, now with the modified events more students of all different backgrounds are able to attend. 

Related Links

Campus Overview

Student Priorities

University Innovation Fellows Spring 2017: Kevin WolfromKiera RustAlyssa Norris, Bardya Banihashemi

University Innovation Fellows Spring 2016: Mitchell ScottRyan PitzerVictor Charoonsophonsak

University Innovation Fellow Spring 2014: Amber Graviet

University Innovation Fellow Spring 2013: Viviana Tran

Related links