Virginia Tech's newest living-learning community will focus on entrepreneurship.

Led by a faculty director from the Pamplin College of Business and located in a stand-alone house at 2475 Oak Lane, the "Innovate" living-learning community will give 35 students the chance to immerse themselves in the many facets of entrepreneurship – from brainstorming ideas to concept development, demographic research to product design, writing a business plan to securing funding, and creating a marketing campaign to final implementation. 

Innovate will begin in the fall semester as a two-year pilot program. This month, first-year students of all majors have the opportunity to apply for the living-learning community.

“Linking academic initiatives with residential life is a growing enterprise at Virginia Tech,” said Mark G. McNamee, senior vice president and provost. “The Innovate project provides a great opportunity for students interested in entrepreneurship to expand their classroom experiences by living and working with other students who share their passion for innovation. The house in Oak Lane will provide a high quality space to launch this program and evaluate future opportunities.”

Innovate will take a multigenerational, multidisciplinary approach to generating and developing entrepreneurial endeavors. Students from a variety of majors will work in a high-energy environment, interacting with faculty ambassadors, alumni coaches, a live-in residential learning coordinator, a graduate director, and upper division students. Team-building activities, discussion groups, and social events will encourage camaraderie and creativity, while state-of-the-art communication technologies in the residence will make it easy to connect with practicing entrepreneurs around the world.

Innovate was conceived and planned as a collaborative effort of the provost’s office, the Division of Student Affairs, Pamplin College of Business, and the department of Housing and Residence Life.

“It is essential to the learning enterprise to have the expertise and collaboration of a wide range of curricular and co-curricular departments at Virginia Tech,” said Patty Perillo, vice president for Student Affairs. “Under the provost’s leadership, this vision has been forming for some time. The concept got off the ground quickly when a number of people around the university recognized a great opportunity to work together and create the synergies that facilitate learning for our students.”

“We are very pleased to help lead this effort to enrich the educational experience,” said Pamplin dean Robert Sumichrast. “Through courses in our management department, we have been preparing students to take an entrepreneurial approach in managing within any context, from startups to large organizations.”

The Innovate program, Sumichrast said, will allow students to learn about entrepreneurship and build important skills, such as leadership, strategic planning, project management, and how to recognize opportunities. “At the end of the program, these students will not only have experience, skills, and knowledge but also have a network of colleagues and mentors that will help them launch their innovative ideas.”

As with other Virginia Tech living-learning communities, Innovate will place a heavy emphasis on student engagement with faculty and staff, providing opportunities to gain knowledge both in and out of the classroom, and creating a physical space that encourages and enriches the learning experience. The Innovate house features several study lounges, a conference room, a living room with a Hokie Stone fireplace, and a large kitchen and dining area. Rooms will be double occupancy with private baths.

“This house in the Oak Lane community is the ideal incubator for the entrepreneurial spirit,” said Frank Shushok Jr., associate vice president for Student Affairs. “With plenty of spaces for collaboration and group meetings, it is an environment that will spark interaction and ideas.”

First-year students interested in applying to Innovate can visit the program’s website. The application process includes submitting a letter of intent and a resume by Friday, July 26, 2013. The cost for living in the Innovate house is comparable to similar rooms in the residential colleges at Ambler-Johnston, another living-learning initiative at Virginia Tech. For more information, send inquiries via email.



Share this story