Undergrad

Clarkson Ignite: New Opportunities from Our New Director

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.

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 was established to drive critical thinking, hands-on learning and open-ended problem-solving. Our programming supports the work being done in classrooms, laboratories, makerspaces, and incubators around the University – these facilities, while relatively new at just 5 years old, have become a spot where students find themselves learning and making new things!!

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

The Innovation Hub (also called the Andrew S. Schuler Educational Resources Center, the ‘ERC’) will continue its growth. Ignite is looking forward to the creation of exciting new spaces and our very own classroom where we will continue to teach innovation and making skills, to our campus community!

A few great examples of programming and facilities are described below. 

The Dorf Makerspace

At the Ignite Dorf Makerspace located on the first floor of the Innovation Hub, we know that 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 teach and help you with the design and building of your projects. Your project can be for a research project, class assignment, President’s Challenge prototype, or to create and make something for fun! Stop in to learn about the equipment offered in the space and look out for workshops happening every Sunday afternoon.

Students participate in activities in the Ignite Dorf Makerspace.
Students participate in activities in the Ignite Dorf Makerspace on campus.

The Media Production Center

Upstairs in the Innovation Hub, you’ll find four rooms dedicated to digital making – the Ignite Media Production Center (MPC). In this area, 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). Digital Mentors – students trained in the operation of the equipment – teach and assist others in creating podcasts, videos, high-quality photographs, and editing all of the digital media they create. 

The CUBE

Student entrepreneurs use the CUBE in the Innovation Hub on campus.
Student entrepreneurs use the CUBE in the Innovation Hub on campus.

Are you an entrepreneur or have an idea for an innovation or startup company? Ignite’s business accelerator works hand-in-hand with the Shipley Center for Innovation to assist all students on their entrepreneurial journeys. Students will find instruction and assistance for things like customer discovery, marketing, LLC filings, provisional patents, business model development, and much more. Students who are looking to take their idea to the next level have the opportunity to pitch for access to the CUBE, which is a 1-year exclusive student accelerator program that provides access to resources beyond what is offered to the general student body, including networking opportunities, discretionary funding, a dedicated project team, and sponsorship to attend external business plan competitions. Teams are also granted exclusive access to the CUBE which is a dedicated project room on the second floor of the Innovation Hub during their time in the program. 

Group Collaboration Spaces

Students will also find an awesome collaboration space on the second floor of BH Snell Hall, we call it The Studio. Students can gain access to this space and utilize everything it has to offer. Students have the ability to move furniture around the space as they see fit since everything in The Studio is moveable. As a student, you can also conceptualize your collaborative projects by drawing them on the walls of The Studio! Each wall has a dry-erase finish so students can truly use every inch of the space to work on their projects. In The Studio, you can also find rapid prototyping materials if you wish to make a quick prototype of anything you are working on. Come check this space out during any of our events to learn more!

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 the 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.

President’s Challenge Event

Grand Prize Winners of the 2021 President's Challenge.
Grand Prize Winners of the 2021 President’s Challenge

One important aspect of the students in the Ignite community is that they are makers and innovators. To challenge our students, the University President hosts the annual President’s Challenge. Students are tasked to collaborate with each other to create an innovative project that will positively impact our community – locally, regionally, or globally. Students compete against other teams for the right to brandish their names on the Ignite Shield and the chance to win upwards of $25,000!

Think. Make. Ignite.

While there are many other Clarkson Ignite programs I could tell you about – last year there were over 90 activities and more than half of the campus was involved in at least one or more 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, solve problems creatively, and invest in building your innovation muscles. Not only does your future depend on it, but it’s a whole lot of fun!

Come find us across from the Dorf Makerspace on the first floor of the Innovation Hub or better yet, get involved in Ignite activities. Feel free to stop in and introduce yourself when you get here! 

Ashley Sweeney Director of Clarkson Ignite.
Ashley Sweeney ‘15, ‘19 MBA
Director
Clarkson Ignite

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