By Rick Berkey, Professor of Practice and Enterprise Program Director and Briana Tucker, Enterprise Program Coordinator
Welcome to the second issue of our 2020 Enterprise Program Newsletter! With the new academic year now underway, it’s safe to say 2020 has been quite the year of uncertainty and change. For 20 years, the Enterprise Program has emphasized project-based learning, teamwork, mentorship, and professional networking — activities that have been shown to improve student retention, graduation, and career preparation. So what happens when the world is challenged to work together, but separately? In Enterprise, we have embraced this challenge by thinking harder, trying new things, and refusing to be discouraged. In one word: #tenacity! And in this context, ‘we’ includes our students, faculty advisors, support staff, and program supporters.
It really does “take a village” to run an Enterprise Program. This fall, any uncertainty about enrollment in Enterprise was quickly dispelled, as 700 students returned to campus to participate in one of our 24 enterprises. We even launched a new enterprise — Hotforest — to give students a new option focused around sustainable forest bioproducts and the circular bioeconomy. Continue reading below to meet Hotforest’s faculty advisor, Dr. Mark Rudnicki. Across Enterprise, students are tackling well over 100 projects this year, including several focused around responses to COVID-19 challenges! Similar to the pivot industry has made, our teams have had to learn how to work from home, socially distance in labs with smaller group sizes, and further improve their planning and communication skills…all in the spirit of getting the job done.
In other fall news, we excitedly hosted Enterprise Day on October 19th– with 21 teams in attendance, and students joining both in-person and online. We’ve started planning for Design Expo by taking lessons learned from last year’s first-ever virtual showcase. With only 9 weeks into the academic year, so much is still unknown, but what we do know is that students will continue to plan for their team, progress on project timelines, and thrive in national competitions. We hope you enjoy this issue and look forward to staying connected – Go Huskies!