April 2011

The Melting Pot

Author
© Michael S. Lehman, MD, MBA, 2011, University of Pittsburgh
NA Name
The Melting Pot
Summary
Students are asked to individually make a list of five things they enjoy doing, such as interests, hobbies and sports (five minutes). Participants then form into groups of three and share their lists of interests. Student then take one idea from each of their respective lists and blend them to create a business idea (ten minutes). 
For example, student one may have an interest in sports, student two an interest in architecture and student three an interest in writing. Their final business idea? A magazine focusing on the architecture of sports stadiums throughout the world. Or three students with interests in software design, chemistry and music propose a new product in which students conduct virtual chemistry experiments to popular songs…taking the science laboratory into homes…without the mess and with some entertainment! 
After providing these examples to the class, the faculty member circulates in the room to encourage and assist the students (ten minutes). The students then share with the entire class their three blended interests and the resulting product or service (ten minutes). Next, the students answer three questions in their group (fifteen minutes):
·      Who is your target market?
·      What is your competitive advantage?
·      What is your business name and associated logo?
The class concludes with students sharing their responses to the three questions, with the faculty member highlighting teaching points based on the responses (ten minutes).
Topics
brainstorming & creativity
Variants
This exercise can be extended to fill 90 minutes, or even two 60-minute class periods. Student learn the benefits of teaming with business partners that have different talents than their own, making the company’s competitive advantage more difficult to replicate. This exercise can be used for high school students, college students, and even adults! This lends to a discussion about target markets, and who the ultimate customer is for the product or service. Students can spend time actually creating a logo, tying in elements of marketing.

Back-of-the-Envelope Calculation

Author
Susannah Howe, Smith College, showe@smith.edu
NA Name
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculation (BotE)
Summary
Students have an individual assignment to do a rough calculation related to their project (or course or larger activity, etc.).  Emphasizes the need to do rough approximate calculations, making assumptions where needed. I have given students a few days to do it, but when I presented this at the 2010 Capstone Conference, someone suggested it could also be done with a very short (ten-minute) turnaround. I use it to get students diving into the technical depth of their projects early on, before they fully know the territory, but it could be used in other ways too. Main thing is that it is actually done on the *back of an envelope*--this constrains how much the students can write and also adds some humor. 
Topics
technical calculation, approximation
Audience
any--could be a whole course, could be a team on a project. Works across all years.
Strengths
·       Applicable to many courses & contexts.
·       Teaches students about the process and value of completing rough calculations/estimates.
·       Forces students to deal with unknowns and make assumptions.
Weaknesses
Needs some structuring to identify an appropriate back-of-the-envelope calculation. More advanced students can often identify and frame these themselves; other students may need more assistance.
Variants
·       Could be done over a period of a few days or as a 5-15 minute assignment in class or in a team meeting.
·       Could do a pre-activity with teams or a whole class to brainstorm possible back-of-the-envelope calculations that apply to their project or the current course material.  Then can divide up that list, assigning different calculations to different people.
·       Can return to the back-of-the-envelope calculations throughout the class; can also refer to the concept of BotE in the context of new calculations and students will better understand having done an initial one.

Just Do It: Accelerated Startup Exercise

Author
Trish Boyles, Muhlenberg College, tboyles@muhlenberg.edu
NA Name
Just do it: Accelerated startup exercise
Summary
Students work in teams to develop a startup idea that they can launch and begin to operate in one week. After one week, each team gives a presentation about their idea, their implementation, how much they earned and what they learned.
Each team is given an envelope with “startup” funds and asked to develop, launch, and earn money by implementing a business idea within one week. “Startup” funds can vary but need not be more than $5. Students are given no prior information about the assignment before receiving it and are given the following rules:
·      The team is not required to use any startup money,
but may use ONLY the startup funds provided in the envelope.
·      Any products/services conceived of and offered must be legal.
No laws may be broken in any part of the project process.
·      No person or animal can be harmed in any way.
One week later students give a 5-10 minute presentation discussing the following:
·       Description of the startup idea
·       The process of implementing the idea
(including obstacles and how the team overcame them)
·       The outcomes (what the team learned and what the team earned).
Topics
Teamwork, action-orientation, identifying an opportunity,
understanding a target market, bootstrapping
Audience
Undergraduate entrepreneurship or business students
Strengths
Students often think starting a business is some hidden magical process that they are not privy to; this activity shows them that starting a business comes down to making a decision to do it and acting on it.
Students generally encounter things they hadn’t anticipated and either have to adjust their business idea on the fly or give up. Either way, their presentation of what happened leads to great class discussions on everything from flexibility in business plans to faulty assumptions to ways of understanding the wants and needs of the target market.
Offers students a practical understanding of the concepts of “bootstrapping” and the importance of positive cash flow.
Weaknesses
Danger of students perceiving emphasis to be short-term profitability
Limited audience, applied bias
Variants
Create a set of criteria on which the “success” of each team’s business will be evaluated to guide the assignment towards a specific topic or set of topics for class discussion.
Give it a social entrepreneurship spin by having students make progress toward solving a social problem through implementing an idea within one week.

Shooting Videos to Discover Unmet Needs

Author
 
Jonathan Weaver
University of Detroit Mercy Mechanical Engineering Department
weaverjm@udmercy.edu
NA Name
Shooting Videos to Discover Unmet Needs
Summary
Begin by showing the class the selective attention test per this YouTube video. Note how many don’t see the person in the gorilla suit!
 
Each student must compile a ten-minute video basically of just passively observing people going about relatively typical activities - but knowing that the ultimate goal is to be able to identify possible unmet needs or new opportunities. The ten minutes could be one continuous segment or many shorter clips totaling ten minutes.
Each student reviews his or her video several times looking for unmet customer needs/opportunities. These could be fairly obvious or rather subtle--the latter being preferred. Opportunities could relate to difficulties/shortcomings associated with existing products or needs that a new product might address. The student submits
a list of opportunities identified and comes to class prepared to show a video.
A class session is devoted to watching each of the videos. For each video shown, each student is tasked with identifying as many unmet needs/opportunities as possible (except for the video's creator, who has already done so). We then share the needs the video's creator had identified and proceed to see how many additional opportunities the remainder of the class finds (typically many new needs are identified).
 
Grading includes the teacher's perception of how effective the video is at illustrating potential new opportunities, how many opportunities the student found in his/her own video, how many needs the student "missed" (i.e., that the other students found), and how many needs the student finds in the other students' videos.
Topics
Opportunity recognition, perception, customer needs analysis
Audience
Any class with design content or relating to customer needs
Strengths
Activity is fun for students. Students realize they tend to see things through a particular lens/filter, and so others see things they miss and vice versa. Students are forced to passively observe potential customers. Little prep time for instructor.
Weaknesses
All students must have access to digital video camera. 
Takes significant class time (depends of course on class size). 
Variants
Could assemble collection of "great videos" and watch them rather than have the students shoot the videos (although taking and analyzing the video is part of the learning process). Might try time lapse videos. For larger classes might have them work in teams or take the assignment off-line rather than watching them all in class. The video duration could also be reduced.

Golden Rolodex

Author
© Michael S. Lehman, MD, MBA, 2011, University of Pittsburgh
NA Name
Golden Rolodex
Summary
Building your network is important as you develop as a business professional. It is important to not only know a wide range of individuals from across different areas of expertise, but it is equally important that they know you, as well. For this assignment, you will begin to strengthen the breadth and depth of your professional network. 
For part one, you will identify five previously unknown individuals to be a part of your professional network. These individuals should include the following: a Pitt engineering student, a Pitt law student, a Pitt student from the health sciences, an individual working in the industry related to your business idea and an entrepreneur. After meeting these individuals face-to-face, record (in a place for your future reference) all of their contact information and a few bullets about their areas of expertise and interest (note: you will be utilizing your new network later on in the course). 
For part two, you will write a two-page paper (followed by the list and contact information/bullets describing your new network) that addresses the following:
·      How did you identify the individuals in your new network?
·      What techniques worked well?
·      What challenges did you face in meeting these people?
·      How were you able to garner information related to their areas of expertise and interest?
·      What have you learned that will help you in growing your network in the months and years ahead?
·      What did you learn in this process that will help you in your business career?
Grading (7% of course grade) will be based on quality of answers, application of what you learned to you and your business and presentation/grammar/spelling.
Topics
networking

Team Triangle Count

Author
Clif Kussmaul, Muhlenberg College, clif@kussmaul.org
NA Name
Team Triangle Count
Summary
Students work in teams to count the number of triangles in a
complex figure, and the experience is used to prompt discussion of
a variety of team issues.
Instructor assigns students to teams of 3-5.
Instructor tells teams to count the number of triangles in a
complex figure.
Teams work for 5-10 minutes, instructor circulates to see what is
happening.
Instructor tells teams to stop counting and consider the following
questions:
·      Who did what on the team? How did you choose these roles?
·      What strategy(s) did your team consider?
·      How did you choose the strategy(s) you implemented?
Teams briefly report their answers to the entire class.
Instructor leads additional discussion if time and interest permit.
Topics
team dynamics, decision making, problem solving
Strengths
·      duration of activity is flexible, depending on content, student interest, etc.
·      requires little preparation
Weaknesses
·      focuses on short-term rather than long-term team issues
Variants
·      use other tasks
·      follow with a reflective writing assignment

NCIIA student ambassadors launch ambitious events on campuses

 

NCIIA's student ambassadors continue to galvanise entrepreneurship on campus! Over the next two days, more than 400 student innovators and entrepreneurs will attend two NCIIA-supported Invention to Venture workshops.

Friday, April 8, TedX Columbia Engineering School. Organized by Mayank Yadav (right) and team. 300 registrants, 100 on the waiting list.

Saturday, April 9, Invention to Venture at Wake Forest University. Organized by Billy Oelsner (left) and team. 100+ registrants.

Want this energy on your campus? We're recruiting for our 2011/12 student ambassador cohort. Read more and apply!

 

Nifty assignments in entrepreneurship education

At Open 2011 and 2012, Clif Kussmaul and Trish Boyles from Muhlenberg College held workshops called Nifty Assignments in Entrepreneurship Education. The sessions were dedicated to finding good materials that educators can use in teaching entrepreneurship: assignments that are easy to adopt and adapt, relevant in many settings, thought-provoking, and fun for students and teachers. Here we present a list of the Nifty Assignments (NAs) that have been presented during the workshops. Head to Clif Kussmaul's Nifty Assignments site for the full list.
 
 
 

Name
Keywords
team dynamics, decision making, problem solving
Presenter
Clif Kussmaul, Muhlenberg College, clif@kussmaul.org
(from Carol Wellington, Shippensburg University)
Bullet
Points
1.     Student teams spend 5-10 minutes counting the triangles in a complex figure.
2.     Teams consider team roles & strategies.
3.     Teams report conclusions to class & discuss.

 
Name
Keywords
networking
Presenter
Michael Lehman, University of Pittsburgh, mslehman@katz.pitt.edu
Bullet
Points
1.     Each student picks five people they don’t know.
(from engineering, law, health sci, industry, etc.)
2.     Interview each person face-to-face.
3.     Write two-page reflection paper.
 
Name
Keywords
perception, opportunity recognition, customer needs analysis
Presenter
Jonathan Weaver, Univ of Detroit, Mercy, Mech Eng Dept, weaverjm@udmercy.edu
Bullet
Points
1.     Show selective attention video.
2.     Each student compiles a ten-minute video of people in typical activities.
3.     Identify & list unmet needs or opportunities.
4.     Share videos with class to identify more.
 
Name
Keywords
teamwork, opportunity identification, action-orientation, bootstrapping
Presenter
Trish Boyles, Muhlenberg College, tboyles@muhlenberg.edu
Bullet
Points
1.     Students teams develop, launch, & operate a startup idea with minimal funding (<$5).
2.     Summary presentation one week later on idea, process, obstacles, lessons learned.
 
Name
Keywords
technical calculation, approximation
Presenter
Susannah Howe, Smith College, showe@smith.edu
Bullet
Points
1.     Each student gets an envelope and uses it to make a rough calculation, often very early in a project.
  
Name
Keywords
brainstorming, creativity
Presenter
Michael Lehman, University of Pittsburgh, mslehman@katz.pitt.edu
Bullet
Points
1.     Each student lists five things they like to do.
2.     Teams of three combine one idea from each list and blend them to form a business idea.
3.     Teams share their idea with the class.
4.     Teams define target market, competitive advantage, business name, & logo.
 
Name
Keywords
idea/concept generation, parallel thinking, team dynamics
Presenter
Jonathan Weaver & Darrell Kleinke, Univ of Detroit, Mercy, Mech Eng Dept, weaverjm@udmercy.edu
Bullet
Points
1.     Instructor introduces DeBono’s 6 Thinking Hats.
2.     Student teams practice each hat to identify innovations related to water bottles.
 
Name
Keywords
transferable knowledge/attitudes/skills, professional development
Presenter
Susannah Howe, Smith College, showe@smith.edu
Bullet
Points
1.     Each student identifies & lists their own transferable knowledge/attitudes/skills.
2.     Student teams aggregate the lists and make a visual map.
 
Name
Keywords
teamwork, opportunity recognition, skill recognition
Presenter
Frances Mitchell, Innovation Academy, TCD/UCD, frances.mitchell@ucd.ie
Bullet
Points
1.     Give newspaper to mixed discipline teams.
2.     Use contents of pockets/bags to create value from something in the newspaper.
3.     Present result at end of day.
 
Name
Keywords
communication, networking, marketing
Presenter
Dean Chang, University of Maryland, deanc@umd.edu
Bullet
Points
1.     Give 1-2 min elevator pitch about yourself - basic info, experience, unique features
2.     Watch recording of yourself - 3 good things, 3 improvements, 1 borrowed idea
3.     Record yourself on cell phone


Name
Reframe the Problem
Keywords
redesign
Presenter
Tina Seelig, Stanford University, tseelig@stanford.edu
Bullet
Points
1.     Students walk around finding problems.
2.     Analyze & redesign nametags.
3.     What are the real goals?
4.     Reframe problem, prototype.
5.     (see also Wallet Project)

Sustainable Vision 2011 - Presentations

Presentations from Sustainable Vision 2011 are listed below. Please click a title to view media from each presentation.

Engaging Ethiopian Students to Explore the Viability of Cyanobacterial Bio-fertilizer Production to Improve Soil Fertility and Crop Yields in Africa, Colorado State University

Presenters: Jessica Davis & Michael Massey

Increasing Smallholder Farmer Income through Appropriate Technology in the Jatropha Biofuel Value Chain in Guatemala, University of Colorado at Boulder

Presenters: John Barbee & Michelle Palacios

BioSolar Entrepreneurship: Environmental and Social Sustainability as Mutual Bootstrapping, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Presenters: Ron Eglash & Mark Steiner

A Multi-hazard-resilient Residential Housing Model for Haiti: Rebuilding Communities and Livelihoods through Sustainable Partitioning, University of Notre Dame

Presenters: Tracy Kijewski-Correa & Alexandros Taflanidis

Accelerating Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship through Creativity Capacity Building, MIT

Presenters: Amy Smith & Rebecca Smith

Anza Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship, Brown University

Presenters: Drew Durbin & Barrett Hazeltine

Velovations in Kenya: Co-development to Sustainable Local Production, Michigan Technological University

Presenters: John Gershenson & Ben Mitchell

Sustainable Sanitation in Urban Slums, MIT

Presenter: David Auerbach

Safe Agua Peru: Water System Innovations Breaking the Cycle of Poverty, Art Center College of Design

Presenters: Mariana Amatullo, Dan Gottlieb, Penny Herscovitch

Continuation and Sustainability in 2011/2012: The Water, Sanitation, and Health and Hygiene Program (WASH) in Kibera, Kenya, University of Denver

Presenters: Renee Botta & Karen Loeb

Industry Partnershps Cascade Design

Presenters: Kevin Gallagher & Laura McLaughlin, Cascade Designs

Strategies to Scale or Fail

Presenter: Rashmir Balasubramaniam

Social Entrepreneurship: A revolutionary mechanism, or simply a different perspective?

Presenter: Patrick Walsh


Engaging Ethiopian Students to Explore the Viability of Cyanobacterial Bio-fertilizer Production to Improve Soil Fertility and Crop Yields in Africa, Colorado State University

Presenters: Jessica Davis & Michael Massey   Top of page

Increasing Smallholder Farmer Income through Appropriate Technology in the Jatropha Biofuel Value Chain in Guatemala, University of Colorado at Boulder

Presenters: John Barbee & Michelle Palacios   Top of page

BioSolar Entrepreneurship: Environmental and Social Sustainability as Mutual Bootstrapping, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Presenters: Ron Eglash & Mark Steiner   Top of page

A Multi-hazard-resilient Residential Housing Model for Haiti: Rebuilding Communities and Livelihoods through Sustainable Partitioning, University of Notre Dame

Presenters: Tracy Kijewski-Correa & Alexandros Taflanidis   Top of page

Accelerating Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship through Creativity Capacity Building, MIT

Presenters: Amy Smith & Rebecca Smith   Top of page

Anza Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship, Brown University

Presenters: Drew Durbin & Barrett Hazeltine   Top of page

Velovations in Kenya: Co-development to Sustainable Local Production, Michigan Technological University

Presenters: John Gershenson & Ben Mitchell   Top of page

Sustainable Sanitation in Urban Slums, MIT

Presenter: David Auerbach   Top of page

Safe Agua Peru: Water System Innovations Breaking the Cycle of Poverty, Art Center College of Design

Presenters: Mariana Amatullo, Dan Gottlieb, Penny Herscovitch   Top of page

Continuation and Sustainability in 2011/2012: The Water, Sanitation, and Health and Hygiene Program (WASH) in Kibera, Kenya, University of Denver

Presenters: Renee Botta & Karen Loeb   Top of page

Industry Partnershps Cascade Design

Presenters: Kevin Gallagher & Laura McLaughlin, Cascade Designs   Top of page

Strategies to Scale or Fail

Presenter: Rashmir Balasubramaniam   Top of page

 

Social Entrepreneurship: A revolutionary mechanism, or simply a different perspective?

Presenter: Patrick Walsh   Top of page

R2I at CCI: University of Virginia

CCI Phase I: Center for Chemistry of the Universe

This Phase I CCI will place chemistry at the center of research efforts to describe the molecular composition of the universe. The Center for Chemistry of the Universe will assemble a multi-institutional, multidisciplinary group of researchers to investigate and understand chemical processes in the interstellar medium. The chemistry occurring under the unique conditions of the interstellar medium produces the initial molecular starting materials for solar system formation. This chemistry, which produces a surprisingly rich set of common organic molecules along with more exotic reactive species, also supplies the molecules in meteorites and comets that may deliver the building blocks of life to young planets. Understanding this chemistry will require the development of high-speed broadband mm-wave spectrophotometers for chemical identification as well as new methods to probe chemical reactivity in cold gases and on surfaces.

The Center will establish connections between fields such as combustion chemistry, atmospheric chemistry, and materials processing that share the theme of "chemistry under extreme conditions." The Center will provide a team-oriented, collaborative and multidisciplinary research environment for graduate student and postdoctoral researchers. Synergistic center activities capitalize on the broad appeal of the space sciences and include a summer undergraduate research program, a university-level general science course, new web materials for the general public and display materials for out-of-school time programs in science centers and museums.