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the Wond'ry E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

May 2017

First and foremost, congratulations to all of our recent 2017 graduates across the entire Vanderbilt University! This is a tremendous accomplishment and you should all be very proud! At the Wond’ry, we will be open throughout the summer months and welcome everyone to come to our facility to work, collaborate, and innovate together. Our hours of operations will remain the same as they were during the academic year. Robert Grajewski is the inaugural director of the new Innovation Center, to be located in the new Engineering and Science Building. Vanderbilt University photo: Anne Rayner; VU

As we finalize our programming for the upcoming fall, we can look back on a very productive and highly innovative first academic year at the Wond’ry. From hosting over 18,000+ students, faculty, and staff as well as outside community members pursuing various innovation endeavors since our opening to arranging over 130+ program activities and events this spring semester alone to help further spur one’s innovation education and mindset, the Wond’ry has become a nexus for creative collisions.

We look forward to continuing these efforts throughout the summer and into the next academic year. As always, please see us as a resource and come visit the Wond’ry any time.

Innovate Onward!

-Robert Grajewski
Evans Family Executive Director of the Wond’ry

A Year in Review- the Innovation Garage Experience- Jess Banasiak (VU ’18, Chemical Engineering):

Jess Banasiak, a rising senior in Chemical Engineering, participated in the inaugural Innovation Garage program at the Wond’ry. She noted that “the Innovation Garage program has been a great opportunity that highlights the ways in which technology and innovative solutions can really shape an industry. My team developed web and mobile applications that facilitate better workforce management and it’s amazing to see what our project has transformed into, given the original problem statement that was provided and the subsequent progress we made in creating an actual software platform that solves it. What I liked most about this program was its interdisciplinary nature and my ability to work with students from across the entire university while gaining immense mentorship from top faculty and industry experts. It’s been one of the highlights in my Vanderbilt experience. I look forward to continuing this project in my internship this summer.”

the Wond’ry Spotlight:

Meet Ali Coffey, Administrative Assistant

My name is Ali Coffey, and I am the Administrative Assistant here at the Wond’ry. I joined the Wond’ry team in June of 2016. I have always had an interest in innovation and entrepreneurship from a young age. I grew up helping in my family’s restaurant business that has been in operation since 1948 in Springfield, IL and in college I worked with them to launch an additional, new restaurant concept and also helped introduce some of our favorite restaurant items, such as our famous Italian dressings, to other retail channels, including supermarkets and specialty food stores. My favorite part about the Wond’ry is that no day is the same and it gives me an opportunity to always be learning. The Wond’ry allows me to meet students, faculty, and staff from all different backgrounds and disciplines. Prior to coming to the Wond’ry, I studied Business Management and Entrepreneurship at the University of Mississippi. There I was involved in several different organizations that involved entrepreneurship. The Wond’ry has been a fantastic experience so far and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for the Wond’ry and our team.

Highlights from Recent Events:

FutureVU Expo
On Wednesday, April 19th, over 800 people visited the Wond’ry to learn about FutureVU, Vanderbilt’s campus land use planning initiative. The event, organized by Vice Chancellor for Administration Eric Kopstain and his staff, featured interactive exhibits, a video highlighting the history of Vanderbilt’s land use, photographs, 3D models, and opportunities for the community to weigh in on everything from different types of bike racks to features they would like to see become a part of Vanderbilt’s campus.

The refreshments during the event were served on plates made from leaves, a unique eco-friendly startup company, Leaves Plates, LLC,  ran by Yalun Feng, a rising Vanderbilt senior majoring in political science and environmental studies.


Thistle Farms Partnership- developing a wrist-saving invention for wick placement
Today, the Wond’ry delivered 10 new wick-setters  to Thistle Farms. This device was developed by Noah Barrow, an intern in the Wond’ry’s makerspace under the direction of Director of Making, Prof. Kevin Galloway. Thistle Farms recently switched from a circular wick to a flat wick and although the new wicks are superior, there was no commercial wick-setting device available for this new shape. This presented a challenge to the manufacturing process that resulted in the wicks having to be placed by hand. Thistle Farms reached out to the Wond’ry and the team was excited to begin working to help find a solution. The end result was a new wick-setting device specifically made to accept the flat wicks and designed to precisely fit the glass vessels Thistle Farms uses. The custom wick-setting device can be produced for under $20 in materials.


Noah (left) and the Thistle Farms wick-setting team


Kevin Galloway, Deanna Meador, Melissa Wert, Jim Kensler, Tianja Gibbs, and Noah Barrow (from left)

Into the Fog- A joint project between Vanderbilt University and the University of Kentucky

Student Innovation Ambassador and VU rising senior, Josh Ulino, presented on exploring ways to foster individual and team creative growth as part of a trans-institutional collaboration with University of Kentucky student, William Hodges. Into the Fog was a 4 month challenge aimed at exploring how universities can develop creative problem solving through immersive educational experiences by asking participants to utilize written, audio, and video blogging to reflect on their university journey.


Student Video Highlighting the Creative Paths that Bring Students to Converge at Vanderbilt University and the Wond’ry Unveiled
What started out as a student innovation ambassador project for the Wond’ry quickly turned into an interdisciplinary cross-campus film adventure for a team of students led by VU rising senior Ziyi Liu. The video, Convergence, tells the story of how different students’ journeys come together at Vanderbilt and the Wond’ry. The video was unveiled during a reception at the Wond’ry to an audience of faculty and staff from across campus that included representatives from athletics, arts, and news and communications.

Congressman Jim Cooper Meets With Vanderbilt Faculty

The Wond’ry was excited to provide a tour to U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper, who represents Tennessee’s 5th District. Congressman Cooper was interested in learning more about what Vanderbilt is doing in the sustainable energy space and innovation in general. His visit was facilitated and hosted by Vanderbilt’s School of Engineering and Vanderbilt’s Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (VINSE) and led by Professors Craig Philip, Sandra Rosenthal, Janey Camp, and Doug Adams.


Doug Adams, Craig Philip, Sandra Rosenthal, Robert Grajewski, Congressman Cooper, Janey Camp, Aaron Covey (from left)

In the News:

-Thistle Farms turns to the Wond’ry for wrist saving wick installing device

New student video reveals path that brings seekers to Vanderbilt, the Wond’ry

-Engineering students transform car for special kids

The Wond’ry’s Grajewski sits on CNBC’s TV Show “The Profit” Small Business Panel

Our Pillar Programs:

Innovation Garage

In the Innovation Garage, an array of corporate and non-profit sponsors partner with Vanderbilt student and faculty teams on cutting-edge research and interdisciplinary projects. The goal of this program is to identify disruptive and innovative solutions that improve industry all while providing unique opportunities for students to build their skills via real-world problem solving.

Entrepreneur PreFlight and PostFlight

For aspiring Vanderbilt entrepreneurs, the Wond’ry offers an 11 week Pre-Flight program that provides the foundational knowledge needed to successfully identify and assess ideas for a quality for profit or non-profit venture. PostFlight is a 9 week program aimed at aspiring entrepreneurs that have already completed customer discovery and market validation and are ready to learn the steps needed to launch a venture.

Social Entrepreneurship & Ventures

The Social Entrepreneurship Program is an important platform for students to work together to tackle important societal problems like affordable housing, transportation and health, which if successful can be adopted into full scale programs and potential partnerships with non-profit and government organizations.

Fostering an Innovation Culture

From artist/music exhibits and speaker series to hackathons and business plan competitions, the Wond’ry hosts workshops, speakers and events that cater to an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit.

Past Versions of News from the Wond’ry:

To view past versions of News from the Wond’ry, please visit our website:



Upcoming Events:

Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Visit
Tour and Panel Discussion

Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Tour 9:30-10 am
Panel 10-10:45 am
ESB rm 44


Bunker Labs Muster
The 2nd Annual Muster invites veterans, business leaders, and innovators to come bring their best ideas, develop new connections and insights. This all-day event will feature guest speakers, a panel, a marketplace showcasing local veteran-owned businesses, and much more!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017
12-7 pm
the Wond’ry floors 1 & 2 and ESB rm 44/48



Call for Art Exhibits

We are currently looking for members of the Vanderbilt community that would like to create a unique art exhibit for display inside the Wond’ry. Proposals for interactive exhibits using technology in cool, innovative ways will be given top priority and those selected will receive funding to assist with bringing the project to life. Proposals can be submitted via email to Wondry@vanderbilt.edu.


Meet our Mentors:

Have a question about intellectual property, commercialization, a business or product idea, professional leadership, etc.? Connect with our network of local Nashville entrepreneurs and business experts, as well as professionals from other departments around campus. Our mentors will be available by Skype, phone, and email for the summer and will resume their open office hours on the 3rd floor of the Wond’ry in August. Most of our mentors have signed back up to participate during the 2017-18 academic year and we also have several new faces coming on board! Email us at Wondry@vanderbilt.edu to schedule an appointment this summer.


Stay Connected:

For the most up-to-date information, event reminders, and opportunities, connect with us on social media (@theWondry, the Wondry).


Located at:
2414 Highland Avenue
Suite 102
Nashville, TN 37212

Connect with Us

For additional information on the Wond’ry, including office hours, please visit thewondry.com.


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