From hosting a Mini Maker Faire where 4,000+ people from across the community attended, launching a number of new workshops/seminars, and being honored as a “Global Emerging Entrepreneur Center of the Year” award finalist by the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC) – the preeminent university innovation and entrepreneurship organization – October has been a whirlwind of excitement for the Wond’ry!
In partnership with Make Nashville, the Nashville Mini Maker Faire, hosted for the first time at Vanderbilt, drew tremendous interest. A festival-like, block party atmosphere, this event included hundreds of creators and makers from across Vanderbilt and the community displaying and presenting their research, inventions, and creativity. With over 4,000+ attendees this was an amazing event that we plan to continue in the future.
Later in the month, we also welcomed back several notable alumni innovators and entrepreneurs from around the world to share their stories and inspire our Vanderbilt Community to think globally. Traveling from Russia, Robert Courtney (VU ’77) shared his experiences launching ventures in Eastern Europe and provided attendees with great insight and advice on how to navigate these efforts successfully. Charlie Brain (VU ’16), founder of Lubanzi Wines, wowed the Wond’ry with his stories of starting a winery in South Africa right after graduation – an idea that was first percolated by his study abroad travels as a VU undergraduate.
Finally, later in the month, the Wond’ry team was honored at the GCEC Annual Conference as an “Global Emerging Entrepreneur Center of the Year” award finalist. Honoring the innovation or entrepreneur center who has been in existence for less than 5 years and made the most impact, this recognition was truly rewarding as it recognized the tremendous efforts that Vanderbilt and the Wond’ry team have put forth to catalyze innovation on campus.
October has been an exciting month and we welcome you to come by the Wond’ry and see all the programs we have underway!
Evans Family Executive Director of the Wond’ry
Featured Recent Event:
“The Tricky Waters of Global Business: Navigating with an Entrepreneurial Mindset” with Robert Courtney
Traveling from Moscow, Russia to share his story, on October 5th, the Wond’ry hosted Vanderbilt alum Robert Courtney (VU ’77), a passionate global entrepreneur and international business lawyer, for an engaging talk on his experiences navigating and creating pioneering ventures in commercial real estate, health care, and retail across the globe including founding 12 ventures in 12 countries covering 9 industries.
Robert’s presentation featured the key ingredients of entrepreneurship, leadership (particularly in crisis situations), and failure, illustrated with and punctuated by insightful stories and experiences taken from his 30+ global business career and overseas experiences. Business cases and related stories ranged from Tri-Lateral Joint Ventures between USA-Mexico-China to Leadership during the Russian Constitutional Crisis in October 1993. What all of these anecdotes had in common were that they captivated the audience and provided a fresh international perspective that was greatly appreciated. Ultimately, the principles the audience learned were universal and timeless and certainly applicable in both domestic and international opportunities.
Currently, Robert currently teaches transactional law in Moscow and is a Board and Executive Committee member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia. We were fortunate to have him share his 25+ years of expertise while he was back in Nashville for reunion weekend.
On October 27th and 28th, the Vanderbilt Center for Digital Humanities, Center for Teaching, Robert Penn Warren Center, Curb Center, and the Wond’ry will host a THATCamp at the Wond’ry. THATCamp stands for “The Humanities and Technology Camp.” It is an unconference: an open meeting where humanists and technologists of all skill levels learn and build together in sessions proposed on the spot. An unconference is to a conference what a seminar is to a lecture, what a party at your house is to a church wedding: it’s more informal and more participatory. It’s not too late, click here to learn more and/or to register.
- It’s collaborative: there are no spectators at a THATCamp.
- It’s informal. The emphasis is on productive, collegial work or free-form discussion.
- It’s spontaneous and timely, with the agenda / schedule / program being mostly or entirely created by all the participants during the first session of the first day.
- It’s non-hierarchical and non-disciplinary and inter-professional.
- It’s fun, intellectually engaging, and a little exhausting.
One Object, Many Stories Creative Writing Workshop Coming Soon
First-year students are invited to The Wond’ry on November 9th for a special opportunity to let their creativity shine. Dr. Kate Brooks, executive director of Vanderbilt’s Career Center, and Andrew Maraniss, author of the Commons Reading STRONG INSIDE, are leading a creative writing workshop entitled “One Object, Many Stories.” Students will view an artifact from 1960s Vanderbilt and will then be invited to write a piece that incorporates the object into their storytelling. They may write a work of poetry, a short story, a mock advertisement, a song, a scene from a play – whatever they desire. The session is part of the Ingram Commons Pathways Workshop program, runs from 5 to 8 p.m., and includes dinner. Any interested first-year student is invited to attend. RSVP to Jennifer Atwood by Nov. 3.
I-Corps Program Interest Form Available
Have a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) idea? Developed a technology in the lab that you think has commercial potential? Looking for funding and mentorship?
If so, visit our webpage to learn more. The Vanderbilt I-Corps site program provides up to $2300 in funding and an opportunity to apply for the National I-Corps program, which provides $50K in funding and increased success rates for those applying for SBIR/STTR grants.
the Wond’ry Spotlight:
Meet Noah Robinson- Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Ambassador
Hi, everyone, I’m Noah Robinson. I am a second year doctoral student studying clinical psychology under the mentorship of Dr. Steven Hollon. My research focus is on using virtual reality to treat addiction. This line of research requires collaboration among the Dept. of Psychology, Dept. of Computer Science, and industry. When I first arrived to Vanderbilt, I found it difficult to foster this kind of interdisciplinary research; the silos of academia were difficult to penetrate.
I came across the Wond’ry in my second semester. Mr. Grajewski met with me and invited me to work as a Wond’ry Ambassador under Ole Molvig, Dept. of History and Vanderbilt Institute of Digital Learning, to form the Wondry’s Emerging Technology (EmTech) Lab. We now have three virtual reality computers and headsets, a Microsoft Hololens, 3-D scanning technology, a full body motion capture suit and much more.
Last year, more people died from opiate abuse than either gun violence or fatal car crashes. Over the next five years, I look forward to working within the Wondry’s environment to fight this epidemic and develop a new type of clinical intervention.
If you’re interested in trying Virtual Reality, I can take you on a guided tour of the Metaverse. My office hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-6 pm. You can sign up for a demo here.
In the News:
Highlights from Recent Events:
From Robots to Drones to Costumes and Ultralight Planes: Nashville Mini Maker Faire
From September 30th to October 1st, the Wond’ry, Engineering and Science Building, and Garland Ave. were bustling with makers, tinkerers, and inventors showing off their creativity. The event drew over 4000 people and featured unique exhibitors, such as Rick Prince, former FaceOff contestant, showing off some of his favorite creations and discussing the methods he uses to create them and Vanderbilt’s own Alex Sargent displaying costumes created for the Vanderbilt Theatre Department that were made from repurposed materials. Many of the booths were interactive and visitors could operate robots, control a Tesla coil by playing an electronic keyboard, and solder their own light-up pin to take home. “It was terrific to bring so many people with different experience and talents together,” Kevin Galloway, the Wond’ry Director of Making said. “I’ve heard many people sharing information on how they produce their work.”
Reception with Charlie Brain of Lubanzi Wines
Charlie Brain (VU ’16) is another shining example of the innovative spirit of Vanderbilt students and the Wond’ry was honored to host him for a presentation on what led him to found Lubanzi Wines following a semester studying abroad at the University of Cape Town, in South Africa. Brain returned to Vanderbilt so in love, that he decided to pitch a business idea on importing South African wine for an entrepreneurship course his senior year. Motivated by his success in the course and positive feedback from his VU peers, Brain turned this concept into reality and Lubanzi Wines was born. Today, Lubanzi Wines partners with South Africa’s most successful independent winemakers and large family owned, fair-for-life certified farms to create wines that not only uniquely reflect the territory, but also reflect the character of South Africa more generally.
On October 17th, the Wond’ry hosted its 2nd CEO/CTO Meetup. Members of the student-led tech business Aloa Labs, industry experts from Vanderbilt alumni-led development firm Forty AU, and faculty, staff, and students with ideas met to connect and explore potential new partnerships. We look forward to continuing this monthly meetup.
Music Entrepreneurship Workshop
Brothers Jeremy and Jason Burchard, founders of RootNote and mentors at the Wond’ry, held an interactive workshop on Music Entrepreneurship on October 17th. Participants divided up and formed teams around student artists for this fun and challenging experiential session.
Our Pillar Programs:
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.
For aspiring Vanderbilt entrepreneurs, the Wond’ry offers a 10-week PreFlight program that provides the foundational knowledge needed to successfully identify and assess ideas for a quality for profit or non-profit venture. This program is now a part of Vanderbilt’s I-Corps Site program for STEM entrepreneurs that provides micro-grant funding from the NSF and access to the National I-Corps program. 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.
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.
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: