Thinc-a-thon: Redesigning the UGA Experience

Imagine 11 students at the University of Georgia (UGA) creating solutions that redesign the home — from refrigerators to floors to lighting. Fast forward 5 months, and there are now 37 students redesigning the student experience at UGA through a similar Thinc-a-thon.

Gregory Wilson, a Fellow and Ph.D. candidate at UGA, developed the original idea for a thinc-a-thon last spring. The name of the event stems from UGA’s entrepreneurship initiative, Thinc. The approach of the event was inspired by IDEO — to get students thinking and creating and designing. The thinc-a-thon is a two day event that began on a Friday and ended the following Saturday evening. By increasing the Thinc-a-thons online marketing, the event more than tripled with participants.

Another perk to garner attention was the grand prize: a trip to Silicon Valley. The student teams, which were predetermined on Friday, presented to panel of 5 judges. Each presentation had 5 minutes, plus two minutes for Q&A to woe the judges. The 2nd place team received a prize of $400. In developing this event, including the prizes, Gregory had established a budget through the Vice Presidents for Research’s Office to purchase all of the supplies and food. However, for the trip to Silicon Valley, Gregory worked with the business school’s entrepreneurship club which takes the trip every year.

Gregory provided the Fellows with the inside scoop to running an event like this Thinc-a-thon. Take a deep dive into the details with him here: Talking With: Gregory Wilson, Thinc-a-thons.

Gregory Wilson, University of Georgia

Gregory Wilson, University of Georgia

Gregory Wilson is a Fellow and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia. To view the strategic priorities for UGA, visit here.

Manifesto: We Believe Students Can Change The World

Fellows are boldly proclaiming that all peers across campus should engage in innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and creativity as a means to make a difference in the world and enhance every individual’s potential leadership abilities. They are declaring this to be a movement. Inspired by a deeper calling to advance their campus innovation ecosystem and strengthen the future economic prospects for their peers on campus, Fellows have put forth this Manifesto as rallying cry for others, across organizations and academic disciplines, to join them in this cause.

Create Something Every Day: A Guide to Becoming a Producer

By Elliot Roth

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????CREATORS CREATE to

hone their CREATIVITY.

Engineers are artists. The best of them are making something everyday to exercise their creativity and problem-solving abilities. But, all too often intention is overshadowed by procrastination.

Everyone is guilty of procrastination. It’s easy to promise yourself that you’ll do something but it’s a different matter to actually do it; that’s why gym membership purchases increase after New Year’s. That’s why so many entrepreneurs are starters rather than finishers. However, there is a way to become a finisher, and it starts with a few key steps.

Put yourself on an information diet

It’s 9 p.m. on a Sunday night as I sit down to write a paper at my computer. I jot down the first sentence, then check Facebook to see if my friend has responded to my most recent message. Three hours later, I’ve still got one sentence and I’m watching Harlem Shake videos.

When the entire world is at your fingertips, you can lose yourself for days in mindless junk. Distractions are endless, and while you gorge yourself on information, your bloated mind is drained of the motivation to create. Deadlines keep piling up, you’re always rushing everywhere, and you’re stressed and drained at the end of the day. That is the way your brain feels when you only consume information.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Turn off your phone. Turn off your internet. The best way to keep yourself honest is to have a way to keep track of the days you produce content. This could either be a distinct schedule, or a calendar that you cross off as you go. The trick is to be accountable to someone other than yourself. If you’re accountable to a calendar, a deadline, or a certain amount of time at a certain hour, you are more likely to succeed.

As an entrepreneur, you’ll see leaps forward if you pick a specific time each day to work on your project. Many articles state successful people take a couple hours in the morning to start their day with creating. The trick is to wake up and immediately begin so that you start your day out on a positive note by creating value.

Consuming without producing anything of value is a waste of resources. Consumption should have meaning. Each bit of information you take in should lead you to new ideas. New ideas stimulate a snowball effect, through which you gain greater insight and knowledge. Without the outlet of creation, the knowledge you gain stagnates and eventually evaporates. The best way to work out your mind is to make something.

Do something. Do anything. Just get started.

This mantra has been especially helpful to me in writing. The best advice I ever got about how to write was simply: “Write every day.”

While that may seem daunting at first, particularly if you don’t have a good idea, it is far better to do something than nothing at all. The minute pencil touches paper, thoughts become reality and you immediately discover ideas that you would never have realized without starting to create. The same holds true for any discipline. Write, draw, doodle, craft, play. These simple “paper prototypes” allow you to begin finding new knowledge.

Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect. Something is always better than nothing. Yoda and his crazy green Jedi knowledge are dead wrong. The truth is, most effort ends in failure. Despite this fact, amazing things happen when people try.

A problem that many wannabe entrepreneurs face is that they begin many projects, but don’t follow them through to completion. The reason they don’t succeed is because they aren’t consistent.

Consistently improve

When I was in 11th grade, my friend Dan got an award for attendance. It turns out that he had missed a single day of school in 11 years (he’d had the flu). He was top of the class and got in to a prestigious school with a full ride scholarship.

Dan illustrates the rewards of consistency. By going to school every day, Dan learned and practiced far more than his fellow classmates. Attending class became a habit, so much so that when senior year rolled around, he didn’t skip a single class.

Consistency favors sustainability over speed. If you’re going to dedicate yourself to becoming an entrepreneur, you must think on a larger timescale. Begin building positive habits early so that they become a part of you. The most important thing to remember is to strive to improve consistently. Bill Gates improved Microsoft consistently as a CEO.

A side benefit of consistency is that people will be more honest with you about your work. It’s far easier to tell someone that their baby is ugly if they are going to make another one tomorrow. Honest feedback leads to dramatic improvement and stronger relationships. It is much harder to be honest with yourself.

This past April, I tried to write a poem every day for National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo). Thirty poems in thirty days is a HUGE challenge. At first, I was very dedicated and stayed up late writing. But then I started to slack. After missing a day or two, I couldn’t keep up and quit halfway through the month.

There were a few key elements missing in how I went about this gargantuan task. Primarily, I failed to develop a routine. I was continually distracted by “more important” things, and cared more about the outcome than the process. I wasn’t able to delay gratification in order to create something of value.

Delay gratification

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????In 1970, a Stanford experiment conducted by a psychologist Walter Mischel tested children on their ability to delay gratification. He placed a marshmallow in front of them and told them that they could eat it, but if they waited they could have a second one. The amazing results showed that the children who could delay gratification were much more successful later in life than their counterparts.

Long-term rewards are arguably better than short-term rewards. However, it is difficult to see the steps involved in getting to the end result. The best way to achieve is to be consistent in your work. Produce something simple and easy every day and you will get closer and closer to your goal.

Practice makes permanent

Producing content on a regular basis leads to many valuable things. At first everything you make seems terrible. Don’t despair. Over time, you’ll improve your skills as you learn through producing. You get comfortable with making new things. All this practice will enable you to hone your skills, so that when you have an epic idea, nothing can stop you.

The more you put out into the world, the more you receive. However, beware of sharing your small successes. Recent studies have shown that if you share what you are working on, you are less likely to follow through. So don’t share. Commit first and work out the early kinks, get into a habit, gain momentum, and then tell the world.

You will begin building a skill-set that can advance you personally, and produce ever-improving quality projects that will attract other creative people. Other self-made experts will come out of the woodwork and share ideas with you.

Don’t worry if the content you produce is not up to par yet. Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to accomplish mastery of any subject. Most communities accept this fact, and welcome newcomers with open arms. The entrepreneurship community is like that; serial entrepreneurs mentor young entrepreneurs because they want to give back. The only way for young entrepreneurs to improve is to consistently practice. Originality comes from practice. Mastery comes from practice.

If you follow these steps, and produce consistently, nothing will be able to stop you. So go and start creating. The path to 10,000 hours of mastery begins with a single hour of creativity.

elliotrothElliot Roth is a Junior in Biomedical Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University. His interests are myriad and include slam poetry, music, international jewel thievery, being an EMT, and writing incredible articles as a Student Ambassador. You can reach him at and follow him on twitter @rothet.

Art + Engineering = Employment

Your opportunities for employment post-graduation are directly correlated with the fields you pursue and the activities in which you are engaged.

Infographic: Which College Majors Lead To Higher Employment, Unemployment?

Infographic: Which College Majors Lead To Higher Employment, Unemployment?

Should I bother getting a college education? If this is what you are asking yourself, I suggest you re-frame the question. Ask yourself instead, “Should I bother going to college to pursue a degree that isn’t in demand?” If employment isn’t your primary concern, go for it! But, if your goal is to pay down the debt you’ll generate and pursue a field you love then there is a basic phenomenon of supply and demand at play. The article “Infographic: Which College Majors Lead To Higher Employment, Unemployment?” published by illustrates this beautifully.

Engineering + Art = Employment

Over half of the top 15 majors with gainful employment have the words Engineering, Science or Technology in them. These are tough disciplines requiring a strong command of math and science. You’ll be working your butt off, but the payoff is gainful employment because that’s where there’s the most growth in U.S. jobs. Of course you can go to college to pursue some deep love or passion for clinical psychology or fine arts… but don’t expect you’ll be employed. Unless you’re the BEST in your field and pursue the highest training in those fields, the demand just isn’t there. However, there is one big caveat. Add fine arts to engineering and design, be it through your major, student project experience or by serving on a cross-functional team …and chances are you’ll have to beat back employers with a stick.

Greg Wilson, Chief Student Ambassador, University of Georgia

Greg Wilson, Chief Student Ambassador, University of Georgia

Companies, small and large, are desperate for people who have strong technical domain expertise that can be made relevant to society with arts and humanities. The US economy needs innovation now more than ever and it’s the bringing together of previously disparate and siloed disciplines that holds the most promise for innovation. There are numerous programs helping students bring these disciplines together, like California Art Center for Design, Pratt School of Design and programs like ArtX, at University of Georgia which happens to be where we are training a new Student Ambassador, Gregory Wilson (twitter), and are aggressively recruiting fellow student ambassadors and reach lots more UGA students. Student Ambassadors help expose peers to invention, innovation and design through events, programs and courses. Participation in these activities expose a broader swath of students on campus to the resources on campus, experiences and learning that can better prepare students for the innovation economy.

ArtX Program, University of Georgia

ArtX Program, University of Georgia

If you don’t have a program like this or a Student Ambassador effort at your campus, apply today to get one started. You can also pursue independent studies to try and combine your love and passion of not-so-employable fields with the hard sciences by working with our Student Ambassadors.

~ Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, T: @ihumera

Art Center College of Design – Design and Social Entrepreneurship

Art Center College of Design has partnered with the non-profit organization Un Techo Para Mi Pais to develop socially driven products/systems that act as change agents for people living without running water. The class was first focused on slums in Chile and now it is being repeated in Peru.

I am in Peru right now with the team of Un Techo Para mi Pais and 11 other students soaking up the beautiful culture and learning as much as we can before we come back to Los Angeles to develop projects that will hopefully have an impact on communities living without running water.

The following link goes deeper into the NGO Un Techo Para Mi Pais and the projects done in the past:


— Mariana Prieto, Student ambassador for Art Center College of Design