Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepre-what?

Entrepreneurship… Like many other Villanovans, I had no idea what this word meant when the Entrepreneurship programs at Villanova were first introduced to me. What I discovered- I’m still not really sure what it means. Or what innovation means, for that matter. The words- and the action of doing whatever it is they mean- are so dynamic and can mean such different things to every student that participates. Studying entrepreneurship at Villanova has been such a fluid process, you can interact with the classes and material in any way you’d like. You can become more involved in different aspects in a way that will impact you however you’d like it to for your life as a student, your future career, or otherwise.

I got involved in Villanova Entrepreneurship because for all my life I wanted to own a coffee shop. I never wanted to own my own engineering firm, but I wanted my own coffee shop and to practice engineering elsewhere. Sounds fairly silly, but when I started taking courses at Villanova, it became apparent that I would never have the practical business experience to open my own coffee shop. Nor would I have much interaction with any courses or humans outside of CEER.

Entrepreneurship changed this drastically.

Not only did I gain practical business knowledge, and get to explore the minds and ideas of non-mechanical engineering students, but I also noticed something. I realized that my interest in a coffee shop was really just my interest in creating something- having something my own that I could develop uniquely and try to grow successfully. I’m less interested in owning a coffee shop now, but more interested in making a change through the creation of something I can call my own.

Upon this realization, I decided to get more involved in Entrepreneurship at Villanova. What I found is there are far more resources than you could ever imagine when you actually look into what’s available. So, for anyone who is interested in getting involved, here are some of the highlights/recommendations of what I’ve participated in in terms of Villanova’s ICE related offerings:

  • TEDx Villanova UniversityTED, for those who have never heard of it, is a conference that runs under the slogan “ideas worth spreading.” TED conferences are hosted across the globe, and each conference has several speakers that are given an 18 minute limit to present. Villanova has been hosting TEDx events for two years now, and it’s an incredible opportunity to be inspired by and to mingle with some fascinating people you never may have met otherwise.
  • Engineering Entrepreneurship Minor A great minor for engineers who want more than a technical education. This minor really broadened my horizons by teaching me all about business strategy and harnessing creativity, and these concepts have really helped me in all of my classes as well as internships. The minor is designed to be a really hands on learning opportunity- students form teams in their sophomore year and get to create and develop a marketable product of their choosing. The minor brings you through the entire process from basic ideation techniques to marketing your final product and securing intellectual property. It’s a highly unique minor program that offers a learning experience engineers simply can’t find in any other courses.
  • Innovation FellowThe Innovation Fellow program is run by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) and the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter).  There are 110 Innovation Fellows from 78 colleges across the country, and through the program the Fellows work with each other to find out the best ways to enhance innovative activity at their respective schools. This is a great opportunity to check out the innovative ecosystems of other schools and learn how to create movements to change and improve your own university.
  • Innovation EncounterVillanova was represented at the Innovation Encounter at Lawrence Tech in 2013 by a team of me and three other engineering students. Each year, small teams from several universities attend this event and compete to create an innovative solution to a problem presented by that year’s industry sponsor.  In 2013, the sponsor was Reverie Mattress Company. Reverie was looking for a fresh idea that would flesh out the issues they were having with their existing adjustable bed frame.  Though only a few students attend the Innovation Encounter, Villanova offers a ton of similar opportunities for students interested in taking part in a group innovation-based competition ( VSEC, UDM Ford Innovation Competition, Imagination Quest, Chicago and Villanova Innovation Chases, etc.). These competitions are highly accessible to students and really put your in-class education into a real-world context

These few events that I’ve been a part of don’t even begin to touch on the number of opportunities available at Villanova. Between courses, events, clubs, projects, etc. you can truly tailor your involvement in entrepreneurship at Villanova to make your experience into whatever you would like it to be.