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the Wond'ry E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

April 2018

With spring in the air and the flowers beginning to bloom, the Wond’ry is bursting with energy and excitement. From launching our inaugural Artist-in-Residence program with the renowned Ekene Ijeoma to officially welcoming the newest member of our team, Dean Stolworthy, to help us implement our National Science Foundation I-Corps program, the Wond’ry is moving in new and exciting directions all in an effort to foster a vibrant and inclusive innovation ecosystem.

This past month, the Wond’ry also took the national stage, where I was provided the opportunity to share our mission and vision as speaker at two famous innovation conferences both held in Austin, Texas – South by Southwest (SXSW) and VentureWell Open. At these conferences thousands of people from across the globe came together to explore innovation and entrepreneurial endeavors. Numerous times during both conferences, I was approached by people who had previously heard about the Wond’ry and the innovative programs that we have created. It is heartening to see the Wond’ry truly becoming a thought leader in the world of innovative education.

In terms of other recognition, several Wond’ry related teams and inventions recently also took center stage. Just to name a few, Leaf Global Fintech, led by CEO Nathaniel Robinson (Law ’18, MBA ’07) won “Best Bootstrapped” startup at the aforementioned South by Southwest, Vanderbilt’s CREATE team led by Dr. Karl Zelik won “Fan Favorite” at WeaRAcon, one of the largest robotics conferences in the country, and Wond’ry Ambassador and clinical psychology graduate student, Noah Robinson’s “Virtual Reality to Treat Opioid Addiction” has received significant national press coverage as a groundbreaking solution to real world crisis.

It is an exciting time at the Wond’ry. We welcome you to come visit us and explore your innovation and entrepreneurial passions.

Innovate Onward!

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

Featured Upcoming Events:


Music and Entrepreneurship at the Wond’ry

Join us for an evening of music, creativity, and entrepreneurship! The goal of this exciting event is to provide a safe, creative and respectful environment for students, faculty, and invited guests to explore all aspects of music and the music industry. Learn from music industry veterans and enjoy some live music. Join us April 16, from 5-6:30 pm, on the Wond’ry 2nd floor.

the Wond’ry Spotlight:

Dean Stolworthy- I-Corps

Hi, my name is Dean Keith Stolworthy, and I am an Academic Pathways Postdoctoral Fellow. I go by both my first name (Dean) and middle name (Keith) so take your pick! I grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, and love the desert and mountains. I’m grateful to be in Nashville, and I am loving the seasons, cooler weather, and trees!  I have been married for almost 10 years, and my wife and I have 4 kids (and 2 dogs).  We enjoy camping, all sports, church, and live music, which makes Nashville a great place to be!  I received a Ph.D., M.S., and B.S., in mechanical engineering, from Brigham Young University, where I also studied business management and entrepreneurship. My graduate research focused on human biomechanics, robotics systems, and mechanical design. I’m a licensed professional engineer and concurrently work in forensics/litigation as a consulting biomechanical expert, which I did full time before coming to Vanderbilt My passion for engineering design and injury analysis was fueled following an accident at age 17, which left me paralyzed. I have experienced great progress in my recovery, and I currently run (slowly) with 2 canes.

Highlights from Recent Events:

Data Driven and Community Focused Artist Ekene Ijeoma Visits Vanderbilt and Nashville 

The Wond’ry and the Department of Art have joined together to launch the Artist-in-Residence Program, an inter-disciplinary program that focuses on the integration of art and innovation.  Renowned artist and community activist, Ekene Ijeoma is being considered as the inaugural artist for the program. Ekene toured Nashville and Vanderbilt, May 21-22, to research current work on Vanderbilt’s campus, Nashville-wide community issues and opportunities, as well as lectured to Vesna Pavlovic’s Digital Arts class about using data to create socially active art. He also curated ideas for future art work around the Wond’ry’s Social Innovations Pillar.


The Wond’ry Wows Audiences at SXSW

Wond’ry Executive Director Robert Grajewski was invited to SXSW, where spoke about the Wond’ry and the growth of entrepreneurship and innovation, in higher education.  Grajewski also spoke on Comcast’s panel about the products and services they use to support local non-profits and community organizations.


Diverse Audience Members Embrace Their Power in Venture Capital with Monique Villa

The 3rd floor of the Wond’ry was alive with optimism as venture capitalist Monique Villa spoke about the rise of women in tech spaces and at venture capital tables. Villa shared with students her rise from college student to working in venture capital and how the face of Silicon Valley is changing, thanks to diversity and inclusion measures, across VC firms and tech companies.


University Innovation vs. Entrepreneurship at Venture Well 2018

Wond’ry Executive Director, Robert Grajewski, was invited to speak at the VentureWell 2018 Conference. The focus was on where universities should focus their efforts between innovation and entrepreneurship.  He spoke on the work we do at the Wond’ry as a trans-institutional center of innovation and entrepreneurship.


Clinical Psychology Graduate Student Lauded For Virtual Reality Opioid Research

Noah Robinson, clinical psychology graduate student, has received ample recognition for his groundbreaking work in treating opioid addiction through the use of virtual reality.  The virtual, therapeutic  environments he creates  to provide a safe place for addicts to practice saying no. Robinson is partnering with local drug-counseling centers to expand his work. Media coverage of Noah’s work has recently been featured in the Tennessean, News Channels 4 and 5, and USA Today.


Vanderbilt Team Takes Home “Fan Favorite” Prize at WeaRAcon 2018

A team from Vanderbilt University was recently recognized as the “Fan Favorite” in the Wearable Robotics Association’s 2018 Innovation Competition. Matthew and Erik were awarded an NSF I-Corps site grant from the Wond’ry to support their customer discovery efforts around this technology. The team, led by Dr. Karl Zelik, presented their smart underwear (aka mechanized clothing) technology to representatives from industry, academia and government organizations. The device offloads the back muscles during lifting tasks, in order to reduce fatigue and injury risk. Matthew Yandell, Erik Lamers, and Dean Stolworthy tag-teamed a presentation highlighting the wearable robotic device, which was developed at the Center for Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology (CREATE) at Vanderbilt. The team is actively working to translate the device into a real-world product, hoping to reduce low back injuries and make lifting easier for everyone.

Whiteboard Mural Showcases The Spirit of the Wond’ry

Student Ambassador, Chris Webster, is proud of his finished whiteboard mural. Chris created a mural that speaks to the explosive innovation and global creativity happening at the Wond’ry.

Join Fellow Students, Faculty, and Staff for the DIVE Closing Celebration

Community Impact | Leadership & Service

All Vanderbilt students, staff, faculty, and administrators are welcome to the Local OACS DIVE Closing Celebration. Join us on Thursday, April 19th at 6:30pm in the Commons Multipurpose Room for light appetizers and refreshments as students in the Refugee Resettlement cohort share the design projects they have been working on all semester. Come meet our community partners, learn more about human-centered design, and how to get involved in the Local OACS DIVE program. This event is approved for MVE/GME credit. Applications are now open on Anchorlink for the Fall 2018 cohorts of Local OACS DIVE Affordable Housing, Food Waste/Food Deserts, and Refugee Resettlement. For more information on the Local OACS DIVE programs, please visit the Local OACS DIVE website.

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 PreLaunch and PostLaunch

For aspiring Vanderbilt entrepreneurs, the Wond’ry offers a 6-week PreLaunch 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. PostLaunch is a 7-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.

In the News:

Past Versions of News from the Wond’ry:

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

Upcoming Events:

Music Creates
Music, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship

April 16, 5-6:30pm
the Wond’ry  2nd floor

Yoga Mat Workshop
Relax while you create your own yoga mat.

April 16, 12-1pm
the Wond’ry Makerspace 2nd floor

Vanderbilt Entrepreneurial Network
VEN Meeting

April 17, 6-7pm
the Wond’ry 1st floor

AR/VR Meetup
Come to the Wond’ry and meet others interested in AR/VR and try out our equipment

April 26, 6-7pm
the Wond’ry AR/VR Lab 2nd Floor

VUARC Kit Building
Kit Building Workshop

Fridays, 3-5pm
the Wond’ry Makerspace 2nd floor
No RSVP needed



DEBUT- VentureWell

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) and VentureWell support the Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) challenge, a project that recognizes undergraduate excellence in biomedical innovation.  DEBUT challenges teams of students in undergraduate biomedical education to solve real world problems in healthcare. Prizes of up to $20,000 will be awarded.


Bain & Company 218 BEL Program

The Building Entrepreneurial Leaders (BEL) Program is a highly selective one-week paid internship focused on giving top students of Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian descent the opportunity to strengthen their business leadership skill sets while gaining exposure to Bain & Company, one of the world’s top tier strategy consulting firms.


Join the Social Enterprise Alliance

The Wond’ry has 6 Social Enterprise Alliance student memberships available. Memberships will be granted to the first 6 students to inquire and meet Wond’ry qualification guidelines. Email Dominique Anderson if interested.


Call for Affordable Housing Project Participants

Did you know that Nashville has affordable housing for creatives? If not, you’re not alone. The Wond’ry’s social innovations pillar is developing a working group focused on mapping affordable housing options throughout the city.  We are seeking students interested in app development, graphic design, project management, and more. To be a part of the conversation, email Dominique Anderson.


The 2018 Innovation By Design Awards
The 2018 Innovation By Design Awards honor the designers and businesses solving the problems of today and tomorrow. The competition, now in its seventh year, has featured a cross-section of blue-chip companies, scruffy startups, and hungry young talents. It is one of the most sought-after design awards in the industry. The entry period will run from February 12, 2018-May 10, 2018.


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 in the new Mentor Lounge, on the 1st floor.


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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