Be the Hustle, Not a Part of it

Students found brainstorming in the School of Architecture.

Students brainstorming in the School of Architecture.

by Jaime Arribas Starkey-El
University Innovation Fellow, Morgan State University

On December 7, the Sunday before the start of finals week, Morgan State University students gathered for the first ever Be Your Own Boss (BYOB) Summit. The four-hour event was planned and facilitated by the Morgan Entrepreneurship Society Executive Board and their faculty advisor.

 In order to create buzz for the event, large neon brainstorming posters were strategically placed around Morgan State’s campus. The posters asked what came to mind when one heard words like Innovation or Entrepreneurship. The responses that were generated gave valuable insight into the creative minds of Morgan students, contributing significantly to the planning of BYOB.

 The event kicked off with active sessions that cultivated a spirited, attentive, and friendly atmosphere. First was a modified game of rock, paper, scissors. The game showed students that just because you don’t have your way, doesn’t mean you can’t be a winner. Next, students were given random topics from “renewable energy” to “Kanye West” and asked to brainstorm what came to mind when they heard that word (similar to the posters placed around the school). The students then played an adapted version of musical chairs in which they mingled to gain new perspectives for their topics.

Attendees trading ideas for their topics.

Attendees trading ideas for their topics

After a few rotations, attendees were asked “How might we draw connections between two card topics that may not typically be thought to relate?” Following this question, the students were split into random teams and tasked to form “creative collisions” for new venture ideas using their topics. After 10 minutes of synthesizing and devising, they then competed in a pitch competition. The winning group managed to turn “Nelson Mandela” and “Facebook” into an app that helps people find mineral markets in developing nations.

Attendees forming creative collisions.

Attendees forming creative collisions.

That session was preceded by a presentation on Being Your Own Boss. Attendees explored the differences between a hustler and an entrepreneur and why they should strive to “be the hustle” rather than be a part of it. They were shown how the lean business model canvas serves as a framework for startups to discover a profitable, sustainable business.  The attendees were also shown how the canvas could help them make efficient lifestyle choices, identify their major, volunteer their time, manage their budget, identify semester goals, or even choose a career. To conclude, they identified their startup type (small business, social, scalable, etc…) and learned about Moonshot ideas.

After the presentation, attendees participated in a lengthy entrepreneur/CEO panel discussion. The panel consisted of Marvin Johnson, a Morgan State alum who is the founder of an IT services firm, Justhink45, and Chiko Abengowe, the CEO and Founder of Perfect Office Solutions. Some key takeaways included the importance of building a strong network, maintaining a work-life balance, and identifying application-based platforms for managing ventures.

Entrepreneur Panel Session featuring Marvin Johnson of justhink45 and Chiko Abengowe of Perfect Office Solutions.

Entrepreneur Panel Session featuring Marvin Johnson of Justhink45 and Chiko Abengowe of Perfect Office Solutions.

 All in all, the event was a success despite the creative constraints of a 2 week planning process  and the removal of most of the brainstorming posters around campus. Both undergraduate and graduate students were in attendance and many majors were represented. It was good to see a lot of interdisciplinary collaboration taking place. The event showed students the power of working with like-minded colleagues in the realm of entrepreneurship. Students reported that they were inspired and never thought they could be so productive in such a short time. The BYOB is solid evidence that Morgan students are ready to participate in the creative economy, take direct control of their futures, and become their own bosses.

The Be Your Own Boss Summit was led by Morgan State University’s Entrepreneurship Society, below. Pictured left to right: Jaime Arribas Starkey-El (University Innovation Fellow), Iyanna Patterson (Secretary), Mareco Edwards (Treasurer), Chiko Abengowe (Perfect Solutions), Marvin Johnson (Justhink45), Mary Foster (Entrepreneurship Society Advisor), Adrien Feudjio (Vice President)

Morgan Entrepreneurship Society and guest speakers, Marvin Johnson and Chiko Abengowe.

Morgan Entrepreneurship Society and guest speakers, Marvin Johnson and Chiko Abengowe.

 

Fellow Jaime Arribas Starkey-ElAbout the author:

Jaime Arribas Starkey-El is a University Innovation Fellow at Morgan State University. Jaime has a strong passion for the possibilities of creativity and innovation. He loves to learn, he loves to discover, and he always wants to know more. As a Fellow, Jaime has worked to increase the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit on campus. His current goal is to bring a dedicated ICE (innovation, commercialization, and entrpreneurship) center to his campus. For more information, you can find a full bio here, along with his student priorities for Morgan State.

58 U.S. Students Named University Innovation Fellows by NSF-Funded Epicenter

For Immediate Release
October 2, 2014

58 U.S. Students Named University Innovation Fellows by NSF-Funded Epicenter

Palo Alto, CA – Fifty-eight students from 26 higher education institutions across the United States have been named University Innovation Fellows by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter).

The University Innovation Fellows program empowers students to become agents of change at their schools. The Fellows are a national community of students in engineering and related fields who work to ensure that their peers gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to compete in the economy of the future. To accomplish this, the Fellows advocate for lasting institutional change and create opportunities for students to engage with entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, design thinking and venture creation at their schools.

This new cohort of Fellows brings the total number to 168 Fellows from 85 schools. The program is run by Epicenter, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell (formerly NCIIA).

“It is so critical for students to have an entrepreneurial mindset in today’s economy. They need more than just technical skills to solve the big problems our world is facing,” said Humera Fasihuddin, leader of the University Innovation Fellows program for Epicenter.

“This mindset helps students learn to be flexible, resilient, creative, empathetic. They learn how to identify and frame problems rather than simply solving what’s put in front of them. With these skills, students will be able to leave school better prepared to tackle challenges and create new and fulfilling jobs for themselves and others.”
Individual Fellows as well as teams of Fellows are sponsored by faculty and administrators at their schools and selected through an application process twice annually. Following acceptance into the program, students complete six weeks of online training, where they connect with their new network, examine their current entrepreneurial ecosystems and formulate action plans to implement their ideas. Throughout the year, they take part in events and conferences across the country and have opportunities to learn from one another, Epicenter mentors, and leaders in academia and industry.

Fellows have created student design and maker spaces, founded entrepreneurship clubs and organizations, worked with faculty to design courses, and hosted events and workshops. In the last academic year alone, Fellows created 553 activities, 22 new spaces and 65 innovation and entrepreneurship resources at their schools.

“Fellows are having a powerful impact at their schools,” Fasihuddin said. “They are working alongside students, faculty and their university leaders to help all students learn an entrepreneurial mindset, dream big and pursue their career aspirations.”

Learn more about the University Innovation Fellows at http://epicenter.stanford.edu/university-innovation-fellows and http://www.dreamdesigndeliver.org.

About Epicenter:
The National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter) is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell (formerly NCIIA). Epicenter’s mission is to empower U.S. undergraduate engineering students to bring their ideas to life for the benefit of our economy and society. To do this, Epicenter helps students combine their technical skills, their ability to develop innovative technologies that solve important problems, and an entrepreneurial mindset and skillset. Epicenter’s three core initiatives are the University Innovation Fellows program for undergraduate engineering students and their peers; the Pathways to Innovation Program for institutional teams of faculty and university leaders; and a research program that informs activities and contributes to national knowledge on entrepreneurship and engineering education. Learn more and get involved at http://epicenter.stanford.edu/.

Media contact:
Laurie Moore
Communications Manager, Epicenter
(650) 561-6113
llhmoore@stanford.edu

Epicenter-NSF-Stanford-VW-logos-stacked

Fellows Speak at White House

On September 24, 2014, two University Innovation Fellows went to the White House to address 60 leaders from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) who attended a half-day Maker Workshop. Two Fellows, Jaime Aribas Starkey-El of Morgan State and Ulysses Knight of Virginia State. Jaime spoke on a panel (see video) about his efforts to bring a maker space to Morgan. He also happens to be on the team of Fellows driving the Student IP Rights project (independent of Epicenter, Stanford or VentureWell) and was able to garner support and visibility for their efforts.

This is one in a series of followup events the White House is holding to leverage its first ever Maker Faire held this past summer. As part of that event, Tim McNulty, Vice President of Government Relations at Carnegie Mellon, gathered 150 signatures from University Presidents to commit to the development of Maker Spaces. HBCUs were largely absent from that list. That’s not OK. It is imperative that HBCUs are at the forefront helping lead the movement that has the potential to democratizing innovation, entrepreneurship and opportunity. The workshop was designed to make that case and introduce resources in support of the effort.

 

IMG_3029The day was designed to shed light on the power of the Maker Movement to educate. The Founder of Make Magazine and the increasingly popular events called ‘Maker Faire’, was an inspiring keynote speaker following Tom Khalil’s opening remarks. Our colleagues from the United College Negro Fund and the American Public Land-grant Universities discussed their efforts to expand Innovation & Entrepreneurship offerings at HBCUs. All three referred to their partnership with Epicenter, through the Fellows program. Tim McNulty expressed an interest in developing a community amongst the 150 signatories, much in the way Fellows have used community to acheive its change strategies on campus. Our colleague Craig Forest of Georgia Tech highlighted the success of the Invention Studio, an entirely free student-run maker space available to all majors for class projects or pet projects. Students have access to an array of equipment and also teach one another classes to acquire new skills.

 

University Innovation Fellows was up at bat again in the last half, with yours truly speaking on the a panel alongside TechShop, Maker Faire/Make Magazine and NSF’s HBCU-UP Program, as resources to help HBCUs get started. The audience was very receptive to the our message of using students to get traction on space and, more importantly, what goes on in the space. Design thinking workshops, lean startup events, challenges and other learning opportunities are the kinds of things that make the difference between a cool room and a vibrant student community. This strategy, along with the students completing the landscape canvas and networking campus stakeholder efforts together, has aided the university administration’s efforts to expand I&E on campus. Fellows created 22 innovation spaces last year alone, three that attracted additional funded by the institution in the millions of dollars as they demonstrated strong student engagement. A number of school committed to bringing on the University Innovation Fellows program that day. There were many highlights to the day, but my personal favorite was meeting Megan Smith, former executive with GoogleX and new Chief Technology Officer of the United States of America (pictured below). With her at the helm as CTO, we may just see some amazing ‘moonshot’ approaches to embedding the maker movement into all schools throughout the U.S.

~Humera Fasihuddin, University Innovation Fellows

 

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