New Learning Community comes to Belden Hall
Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 00:09
The Office of First Year Programs and Learning Communities added Innovation House to their offerings of living and learning communities (LLC) on campus this semester. The addition, which brings the total number of LLCs on campus to 17, is located in Belden Hall, Alumni Quadrangle and houses 36 freshmen, all members of the founding class.
The community is open to students of all backgrounds, majors and interests, but a shared and keen interest in creativity and entrepreneurship is a uniting feature among members.
The main goal, according to the LLC’s resident assistant Shervin Etemad, a 6th semester Molecular and Cell Biology major, “is to bring together like-minded, motivated students and provide them with the support they need to become the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. The students in Innovation House are eager to be a part of the growing population of university students who are at a young age becoming leaders in business and entrepreneurship.”
The inclusion of the LLC in the university’s residential offerings represents a clear shift in the direction of the university as a whole. According to Melissa Foreman, the assistant director of First Year Programs and Learning Communities, “UConn is increasingly putting more of a focus on supporting innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship for faculty, students, industry partners, and alumni … it only made sense to provide a living and learning community for students who want to hone their skills and knowledge to develop ideas that lead to new inventions, solving problems businesses face, creating products or starting businesses.”
First semester mechanical engineering major Fritz Gilbert chose to live in Innovation House because he felt that his creativity and industriousness set him apart from other students.
“I chose to live in Innovation House the moment I heard about it,” said Gilbert. “I have always taken a different road then most kids do with their free time. While my friends were playing video games I was busy setting up my own hat company. I was always told that I was innovative so the choice was quite easy.”
Like all of UConn’s LLCs, Innovation House strives to offer trips, challenges and opportunities relating to innovation and entrepreneurship to its residents and expand the limit of their education from the classroom to the place of residence. Some of the events that Innovation House focuses on bringing to their students are trips to companies, presentations by entrepreneurs, startup competitions and workshops on entrepreneurship. Etemad mentioned that specific programming goals include visiting local startups as well as Harvard University’s Innovation Lab in Cambridge, Mass.
The idea is for Innovation House members to enter the job market with the skills, not only to create new technologies, concepts and ideas, but to create their own fields. Innovation House’s faculty in residence, professor of engineering Hadi Bozorgmanesh said that he hopes the students of the LLC will transfer what they learn from the community to their studies.
“The vision is to plant the seeds of innovation in the freshman class in order to enable them to look at every course and every event from an entrepreneurial and creative perspective,” Bozorgmanesh said.
Beyond studies Bozorgmanesh’s goal is to bring tools students will need for the future that are not necessarily part of the classroom experience as well as encourage creativity and entrepreneurship within all LLCs.
“The expectation is that, by that time they graduate, rather than seeking a job they will want to create one,” said Bozorgmanesh, “I expect the experience and success of the present class will promote inclusion of innovation practices as a critical part of all the learning communities.”