Undergraduate Programs

Clarkson Ignite: New Spaces, New Opportunities

A two level view of the ERC

What will you do in college to chase your passion and prepare yourself for a lifetime of success? What will it take? 

In a world where nearly half of all U.S. jobs are at risk of automation (Frey & Osborne, 2013), universities must create innovative content, delivery methods and programming to continue fostering talent that serves humanity.  Companies are looking for employees that think and behave entrepreneurially in order to stay relevant. These “intrapreneurs” are leaders who can recognize opportunities, take calculated risks, and lead innovative teams. 

Here at Clarkson, we’ve committed to equipping every single graduate with an entrepreneurial mindset and an innovation skill set to meet the needs of this rapidly changing workforce.

Think Make Ignite #clarksonignite

Did you know 1 in 5 Clarkson alums is president, CEO, vice president, or owner of their own company? That’s always an impressive statistic to me! It also leads me back to my original questions, what will it take to prepare you for a lifetime of success? How will you get to the 1 in 5?

Enter Clarkson Ignite.

Clarkson Ignite is a new initiative that drives critical thinking, hands-on learning and open-ended problem-solving. Our programming supports the work being done in classrooms, laboratories, maker spaces and incubators around the University – many of these facilities are just opening for the first time this fall semester!

These investments in facilities, faculty, staff and programming provides a truly differentiated educational experience – one that challenges students to work together across disciplines to find innovative solutions to pressing problems. 

A few great examples of programming and facilities are described below. You can also check out the blog I wrote last August which dives a little deeper into specific programs organized by Clarkson Ignite.

The Makerpace
At the Dorf Makerspace on the first floor of the Innovation Hub (also called the Andrew S. Schuler Educational Resources Center, the ERC, or the library…), anyone can be a maker – we welcome students of all majors and class years. The space is dedicated to the production of physical objects and it’s 100% staffed by current Clarkson student employees – Maker Mentors – who are there to help you with the design and building of your project. Be on the lookout for workshops happening every Sunday afternoon. New equipment is being added and will be available for the fall semester.

Two people leaning next to the 3d printers
Students participate in activities in the Innovation HUB and Maker Space on campus.

The Digital Making Suite

Upstairs in the Innovation Hub you’ll find four rooms dedicated to digital making. In these areas you’ll find equipment for the creation and editing of audio, video, and photography projects (you can check out the student run Clarkson Ignite podcast on Spotify, iTunes, etc. – for a little inspiration). Workshops will also be held to assist users with equipment in these spaces.


Are you an entrepreneur or have an idea for an innovation or startup company? The Shipley Center for Innovation assists students on their entrepreneurial journeys and helps with customer discovery, marketing, LLC filings, provisional patents, etc. Advanced student startups have the opportunity to pitch for access to the CUBE, which is an exclusive accelerator program that provides access to networking opportunities, alumni mentorship, a dedicated project team and funding to attend off-campus business plan competitions. Teams are also granted exclusive access to a dedicated project room on the second floor of the Innovation Hub for up to two semesters.

The clear glass space for collaboration with the cube on the wall
Students use the Innovation Hub on campus.

Group Collaboration Spaces

Located throughout the Innovation Hub are five group collaboration rooms (including one with an 80” touch screen computer…), two video conference rooms, and multiple semi-private areas for groups to work together. Clarkson has a strong history of group and project based work – these spaces facilitate interaction with large glass marker boards and monitors that allow multiple devices to simultaneously connect and collaborate.

You’ll also find an awesome collaboration space on the second floor of BH Snell Hall, we call it The Studio – they’ll be hosting a master class series meant to build collaboration and communication skills. With totally moveable furnishings and floor to ceiling white board walls, it’s a great place for groups to work together on their projects.

a group of people brianstorming
Faculty, staff, and students participate in the President’s “Make To Learn” Workshop in the Snell Studio.
a group of people sitting around the table with laptops talking
Students participate in activities in the Innovation Hub and Maker Space on campus.
a group of people pointing to a demonstration of power lines
Students participate in the Ignite President’s Challenge on campus.

President’s Challenge

By now you’ve probably noticed a theme of ‘making’ and the President’s Challenge, one of the signature Ignite programs, is no exception. In this annual competition, President Collins challenges the campus to solve a problem, make a demonstrable prototype, and present their project at the annual President’s Challenge showcase. Keep an eye out for the 2019-2020 Challenge – did I mention there are $25,000 in prizes available?


While there are many other Clarkson Ignite programs I could tell you about – last year there were over 70 activities and more than half of the campus was involved in at least one of them – but the best way to learn more is to take a chance and get involved. Seek out opportunities to challenge your existing knowledge, to solve problems creatively, and to invest in building your innovation muscles. Not only does your future depend on it, but, it’s a whole lot of fun!

three students sitting two spinning around on the swivel chair
Students participate in activities in the Innovation Hub and Maker Space on campus.
Erin Draper headshot
Erin Draper

Come find us across from the Dorf MakerSpace on the first floor of the innovation hub or better yet, get involved in Ignite activities. Bye, for now.

Erin Draper ‘03, ‘14 MBA
Managing Director
Clarkson Ignite

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  1. Hello,
    Is anyone out there who remembers the first major opportunity,
    they got from their college after reading this article…
    Glad I came across this article.
    Thank you!!

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