- 1 Promoting student innovation and entrepreneurship
- 2 Encouraging faculty innovation and entrepreneurship
- 3 The Center for Innovation and Learning
- 4 Actively Supporting the University Technology Transfer Function
- 5 Facilitating University-Industry Collaboration
- 6 Engaging with Regional and Local Development Efforts
- 7 Related Links
Promoting student innovation and entrepreneurship
Wofford College has a number of programs that are designed to aid students with entrepreneurial goals. The SPACE, for instance, is a department whose goal is to work with students to help them develop professional skills and work on transforming innovative ideas into projects or businesses. Two of the programs in the The SPACE, The Space to Impact and The Space to Launch, work together to elaborate on these project and business ideas. During each spring semester, Impact and Launch students engage in the Impact and Launch Competition, a Shark Tank styled competition where ten students--five from Impact and five from Launch--pitch their project or business ideas to a panel of judges and investors. The winners of the event (one from Impact and one from Launch) receive various prizes, such as capital, networking contacts, and office space, in order to help them in their endeavours.
The Leadership Circle at Wofford College is also trying to make more available the tools that are necessary for innovation. Cole McCarty is working with The SPACE to develop a Makerspace, which students (and faculty) will be able to use for prototyping, design, and 3D modeling. The Makerspace would have such equipment as a 3D printer, which Wofford already has, lazer cutters, computers equiped with modelling software, and more.
Below is a description of The SPACE mentioned above, which is the heart of innovation and entrepreneurship encouragement at Wofford.
The SPACE at Wofford College is a department designed to aid students in building the professional skills necessary to enter graduate schools and the workforce after college. The SPACE is divided into five main programs: Prepare, Impact, Launch, Consult, and Explore.
The Space to Prepare
The Space to Prepare coordinates and runs three main programs at Wofford: Career Services, The Sophomore Experience, and The Institute. The goal of Career Services is to provide professional skills coaching and career strategies development to Wofford students looking to make the most of their opportunities. Career Services aids with resume building, internship and job applications, and interview coaching.
The Sophomore Experience is a fast-paced, 24-hour event designed to answer all of the pertinent questions about choosing a major, finding internships, networking, and more. Held just before the beginning of Wofford’s spring semester, The Sophomore Experience also teaches the essential skills of creative and innovative thinking and the tactics of negotiation.
The Institute is a one-of-a-kind program created to give students of all majors in-depth professional skills development in a real-world setting. Participants in the five week summer program spend five days a week learning by doing, receiving in-depth instruction and hands-on practice. Students who successfully complete this certificate-earning program will have a significant advantage when launching their career due to the professional skills learned throughout the course. These skills include:
- Project management
- Technology proficiency
- Presentation skills
- Teamwork skills
- Design thinking
- Time management
- Leadership tactics
The Space to Impact
The Space to Impact is a competitive four-year scholarship program for incoming and current Wofford students that teaches new essential skills like design thinking, entrepreneurship and the consultative approach to problem solving, all through projects-based experience. Impact member projects often address an issue or problem on campus or in the wider world and outline a possible solution. Projects can be something local, like starting a concession stand or organizing a new student group, or it may be something a bit more global, like raising funds to help build a medical clinic in Malawi or benefit earthquake victims in Haiti. The amount of work required is roughly equivalent to taking an extra academic course. The Space to Impact works together with The Space to Launch, discussed below.
The Space to Launch
The Space to Launch is another four-year scholarship program for incoming and current Wofford students; the Launch and Impact programs work together to learn the essential skills listed above. The Launch program is oriented around building ideas for businesses and startups, just as The Space to Impact is centered around project development.
The Space to Consult
In the Space to Consult, students use their skills to help a company by participating in a team consulting project. The largest benefit of engaging students in consulting projects is the hands on, real-world experience that participants gain; The Space to Consult allows students to use their skills to solve real-world problems in an environment similar to that of the professional world that graduates will be immersed in after college.
The Space to Explore
The Space to Explore is a program that creates unique internship opportunities for Wofford students. Each year, Explore sets up internships in a different BRICS country (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). The Explore program also sends students as interns to the Aspen Institute.
Encouraging faculty innovation and entrepreneurship
Right now what we feel as though what will be most helpful for faculties role in innovation and entrepreneurship is if we, as a leadership circle, become more closely connect with the faculty of the center of innovation and learning. We want to connect this resource more directly with the other resources we have, like the Space and the Iron Yard. Another thing we hope to do to encourage innovation within the faculty and staff is utilize their goals for their class and their departments as also our goals to make them more involved in what we are doing. In the future we hope faculty and professor will use things we implement as a tool for their students and innovation and entrepreneurship be a part of the curriculum in all classes.
The Center for Innovation and Learning
The Center for Innovation and Learning aims to design, develop and integrate resources that enrich learning and teaching at Wofford, and to provide a locus for conversations, both within the Wofford community and with other institutions, about excellence and innovation in a residential liberal arts education.
Purposeful integration of research, curricular innovation, and support in The Center for Innovation and Learning is a step toward the academic synthesis a 21st century liberal arts college can offer both its own community members and society at large.
The mission at The Center for Innovation and Learning is four-fold: to support innovation in teaching, provide an environment for the support of teaching and learning, to support on-campus writing initiatives in curricular and co-curricular programming, and to assess for the effectiveness of innovations undertaken in the service of student learning.
The Center for Innovation and Learning has two divisions that are directed towards their mission. These divisions are comprised of different faculty members that focus on innovation in pedagogical practice and to nurture innovation in the classroom.
Innovations in Teaching and Learning
This specific division approaches technology as an enhancement and aid to teaching. Colleagues will be informed of the latest in technological hardware and software and provide sustained instruction, tutorials, and workshops that present useful application of new resources. CIL will endeavor to furnish those resources that faculty need in order to implement their innovative experiments.
CIL works with faculty who want to incorporate technology into their courses and teaching. They established Tools and Toys lunches, which are built around faculty experimentation (successful and otherwise) that focus on the latest in the application of technology to teaching and learning and will continue with six presentations, three in the fall and three in the spring of the academic year.
Institutional Research and Assessment
The CIL institutional research team collaborates with faculty to assess for improvement in student learning and teaching effectiveness. They disseminate assessment results to appropriate publics – students, faculty, alumni and partner with faculty who wish to present and publish in the scholarship of teaching. Research findings from NSSE and from internal Wofford assessments are made available to appropriate campus constituencies on an annual basis with a view towards providing faculty and departments with understandable and actionable data that reflect the student’s learning experience.
Actively Supporting the University Technology Transfer Function
This is an area where Wofford may need to improve. Because we are a very small college with a limited amount of resources compared to a large university, a central office that focuses specifically as a central point for students, faculty, alumni, investors, and the industries to come together, may not be something that we need per say. Wofford has The Space which does much of this already. An advantage of being a small school is that all of our students have the opportunity to work with faculty and alumni and to network with potential investors within their respective industries. This isn't to say that we can't improve upon our system with how we are able to build bridges between all of our resources, but instead tailor it to our specfic size and community at Wofford.
Facilitating University-Industry Collaboration
Right now, the strongest connection that Wofford College has with industry in the surrounding area is with the Iron Yard. By their description,"The Iron Yard exists to create exceptional value for people and their ideas through code education, startup accelerators and coworking spaces." The Iron Yard is a thinktank and startup incubator headquartered in Greenville, SC and with its second location in Spartanburg, SC, both of which are very near Wofford's campus. The SPACE at Wofford has held a number of events in conjunction with the Iron Yard, both on Wofford's campus and on the Iron Yard's campuses. The Iron Yard teaches coding classes to entrepreneurs needing to learn the skill, and also provides startup support for entrepreneurs looking to get off the ground. Most importantly, the Iron Yard serves as a networking hub through which a number of different professionals (programmers, designeers, investors, business managers, event coordinators, etc.) flow. This is most significant to Wofford students because is provides a centralized place for students to look for professional expertise or connections to other third parties.
Also of importance is a capital network in South Carolina Angel Network (SCAN). SCAN is "an association of angel groups and early stage investors located across the Palmetto State." SCAN is a significant source of venture capitalist funding throughout South Carolina, especially in areas of more extensive business. In January 2015, SCAN launched another sub-network, the Spartanburg Angel Network, which carries out the same purpose of SCAN and its other sub-networks, but is specific to the Spartanburg area. Spartanburg's network was spearheaded by John Bauknight, a local success and business owner (of a restaurant and brewery in Spartanburg). The Spartanburg Angel Network is comprised of business owners and investors looking to grow their money through venture capitalism, which is of great interest to Wofford's entrepreneurs. Some faculty and alumni of Wofford have contacts with John Bauknight, and the Spartanburg Angel Network could potentially be a valuable resource for collaboration and partnership.
Engaging with Regional and Local Development Efforts
Freshman Serivice Projects
Wofford College makes it a priorty for freshman students to particiapte in a class-wide service project in the days before their first semester at the college. In doing so, they instill in the incoming students the notion that Wofford is a tight-knit community and focuses largely on service and giving back to our community. Every year the project is different, but has focused on recently on mass packing and shipping of food packages to countries in need.
On-Campus Service Organizations and Student Led Projects
Wofford also provides the opportunity for students to join service organizations on campus such as APO and Twin Towers. Both organizations focus on varying aspects of the community and have committees geared towards student service in these respective areas. Student led projects also offer the opportunity for service in the community. Philip Haabib, a freshman, has a project in which he works with down-on-their-luck citizens in the community and helps push them through classes at a community college and allows them to find jobs.