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the Wond'ry E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

December 2017

Happy Holidays! As the semester is culminating and our students are finishing up their fall exams, it is nice to look back and give thanks to all of those from across Vanderbilt’s campus and the Nashville community who helped make the our first year in operation such a success.

From all of Vanderbilt’s Schools and their respective Centers on campus including Turner Family Center, Owen Entrepreneur Center, Office of Active Citizenship and Service, Center for Technology Transfer & Collaboration, and VU Career Services just to name a few, we are grateful to have collaborated throughout the last year in further creating an environment on campus that has enabled innovation, entrepreneurship, invention, and creativity to flourish. Your help and teamwork were essential as we launched the Wond’ry and translated an idea into a reality.

I would like to thank the Wond’ry Staff, Mentors, and Student Ambassadors for their incredible effort, dedication, and passion. They make coming to work a joy and their tireless commitment to the Wond’ry has helped our programs thrive. I had a vision when we launched the Wond’ry over a year ago to create an epicenter where all academic disciplines converge to explore, create, make, and partner to develop solutions that improve the way we live. With 26,000+ visitors having now come through our space since our Grand Opening, I feel that we are well on our way to achieving this goal.

Yet we are far from satisfied. The spring semester will be ripe with new programs, events, and activities that further foster this innovation culture. Look to our upcoming newsletters and the Wond’ry website for updates about how you can get involved. We will continue to catalyze our community and look forward to working with you to achieve your goals.

We wish you a safe and restful holiday season full of joy and happiness.

Innovate Onward!

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

 the Wond’ry Team:

Ambassadors Olivia Steinmetz and Alexa Levitt Win KPMG Pitch Contest

The KPMG International Case Competition (KICC) came to Vanderbilt on Friday, November 10th, to give students the opportunity to showcase agile thinking and prove that they are ready to embark on a successful career in consulting. Wond’ry Ambassadors, Olivia Steinmetz and Alexa Levitt, along with their two other teammates, Amanda Youman and Lara Goldstein, formed team Women In Consulting (WIC), and were presented by KPMG with a complex business challenge to solve and present to their hypothetical international client within a 48-hour time span. WIC took first place in the Vanderbilt competition and are heading to the semifinal round in Dallas this coming January! There, they will be competing with talented students from across the region, gaining valuable insight into what it’s like to work with clients. If they progress to the top of their national case competition in New York, they will be on their way to an all-expenses-paid trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the 2018 international final.

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 Phyllis Johnson- Hastac Scholar

Hi, everyone! I’m Phyllis Johnson, and I am a PhD Student in the Anthropology Department at Vanderbilt. I am really excited to be the new HASTAC Scholar with the Wond’ry! I have experience with digital archaeological methodologies, and I am especially excited to expand my digital expertise both within and outside archaeology and to contribute to projects with the Wond’ry team.
I am an Ohio native, but I have strong roots in Tennessee, and still yet, I consider Louisville, Kentucky my home. After receiving my MA in Anthropology from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, I took a job in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, working as an Archaeologist and Project Manager for a Cultural Resource Management firm. During my 5 years as a Project Manager, I was primarily responsible for designing and managing archaeological projects in Kentucky and Tennessee. I was also involved in several volunteer archaeological organizations, such as Living Archaeology Weekend, where I educated elementary students on how archaeologists study stone tools that were made and used by Native Americans. At Vanderbilt, I have also taught archaeology courses for the Program for Talented Youth.
When I am not working on my research, I enjoy spending time with my husband, three children, and our Chihuahua. I especially enjoy reading books, attending concerts, and watching movies with my family.

In the News:

Highlights from Recent Events:

THATCamp: the unconference

In partnership with the Center for Teaching, Curb Center, Robert Penn Warren Center, Institute for Digital Learning, and Center for Digital Humanities, the Wond’ry hosted this year’s THATCamp (The Humanities and Technology Camp). Over 30 participants, attended this 2-day event where the schedule was decided by the participants following the opening lecture and based solely around the interest areas of those in the room. It was a very unique and innovative event, a true ‘un-Conference’, that we were fortunate to be a part of and help lead in conjunction with our partners.


Creative Writing Workshop One Object, Many Stories

The Wond’ry hosted a Creative Writing seminar on Nov. 16th as part of the Ingram Commons’ Immersion Pathways program. Andrew Maraniss, Visiting Innovator at the Wond’ry and Visiting Author at the Commons, hosted the session along with Dr. Kate Brooks, executive director of the Vanderbilt Career Center. Students used an artifact (a hat worn to VU basketball games that was included in Strong Inside) as inspiration to craft a poem, short story, or other creative writing endeavor. These first year students crafted some incredible works of fiction, which will be turned into an e-book. Andrew and Kate are looking forward to hosting another creative writing workshop in the spring.

DIVE Boot Camp at the Wond’ry

The Wond’ry hosted the final DIVE Boot Camp for the fall semester on Nov. 12. It was themed around assistive technologies. Signal Centers (Chattanooga, TN), a non-profit assistive technology company, sponsored a disability simulation lab that served as a platform to engage participants in the empathy phase of design thinking. To make the boot camp meaningful to the participants and Signal Centers, the representative from Signal Centers presented two challenges from current clients for participants to brainstorm solutions and prototype. In all we had 25 participants (students, staff and faculty) from all corners of campus.

Wond’ry Hosts Wikimedian-in-Residence Alice White

On November 11th, the Wond’ry in partnership with the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries hosted a Wikipedia edit-a-thon focusing on increasing public awareness and coverage of outstanding women scientists. Participants heard an engaging lecture from Wikimedian-in-residence, Alice White of the Wellcome Library in London and then put their new Wikimedia knowledge to work updating articles, improving citations, and creating new pages for notable women scientists.

Wond’ry Buzzing With Game Creation

The Global Game Jam® (GGJ) is the world’s largest game jam event (game creation) taking place around the world at physical locations. Think of it as a hackathon focused on game development. The Wond’ry will host this amazing weekend, again this year. The weekend will stir a global creative buzz in games, while at the same time exploring the process of development, be it programming, iterative design, narrative exploration or artistic expression. It will all be condensed into a 48 hour development cycle. The GGJ encourages people with all kinds of backgrounds to participate and contribute to this global spread of game development and creativity. Register now to join the fun– January 26-28, 2018 at the Wond’ry.

Wond’ry Hosts Hampton Roads Chamber

The Wond’ry hosted board members of the Hampton Roads (Virginia) Chamber of Commerce for a tour of the facility.The Chamber team visited Nashville to learn about best practices in developing a city into a thriving metropolis. The tour followed panel discussions and an idea generation session at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, where Robert Grajewski, Evans Family Executive Director of the Wond’ry, was a panel member.

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 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.

Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship

The Social Entrepreneurship Program is assisting students with opportunities to develop for-profit social enterprises that tackle important societal problems like food deserts, lack of healthy food options, food waste, and the eradication of poverty through entrepreneurship, which if successful can be adopted into full scale programs and potential partnerships with  nonprofit 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:

Global Game Jam
Global game development hackathon, open to all skill levels

January 26-28, 2018
the Wond’ry 2nd and 3rd floors



Join the Social Enterprise Alliance

Interested in social enterprise? Sign-up to receive notifications about being a part of Nashville’s Social Enterprise Alliance, via the Wond’ry. Members will have access to information and opportunities surrounding social entrepreneurship and social impact. Email Dominique Anderson to be added to the list.


Call for Affordable Housing Project Participants

Are you passionate about making housing affordable to everyone, in Nashville? The Wond’ry’s social innovations pillar will host a working group of Vanderbilt student thought leaders, focused on developing solutions and ideas around the issue. To be a part of the conversation, email Dominique Anderson.


Vanderbilt Green Fund

Did you know the Vanderbilt Green Fund allocates $150K to fund student-proposed sustainability projects? Some past projects include the Solar Dok on the Commons patio, hydration stations, and solar panels on the tennis center. If you have an idea for a sustainability project that would benefit the Vanderbilt community, submit a proposal now on AnchorLink. The preliminary proposal deadline is Friday, November 17th and the final deadline is Monday, January 23rd. Have questions? Email Jimmy Troderman for more information.


I-Corps- Vanderbilt Site and National Program

Have a STEM idea? Have a piece of technology you’ve developed in the lab that you think might have commercial application? Vanderbilt is a newly designated I-Corps site. Teams participating in the site program are eligible for $2300 in funding and to participate in the National I-Corps program, which provides $50K in additional funding. Visit our website to learn more about this exciting program.


Values and Ventures Competition

A unique annual competition for undergraduate students from around the world to pitch plans for businesses, products or services that make a profit while also benefiting the environment, the community or a specific population. Presented by the Neeley Entrepreneurship Center and held in Ft. Worth, TX. Top prize is over $100K in cash and in-kind services. Intent to compete forms available now. 


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 during their open office hours on the 3rd floor of the Wond’ry.


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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