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the Wond'ry E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

November 2018

With both Thanksgiving and our second anniversary happening this month, I have been doing much reflection and introspection as to what I am most grateful for here at the Wond’ry. Most importantly, I am grateful for my amazing team and for the many inspiring students, faculty, and staff who engage in our numerous program offerings every day. Because of them, I am able to come to work excited to make an impact and to help drive positive change in our community. With now 45,000+ visitors since our grand opening, I am also grateful to see the Wond’ry becoming the epicenter for innovation and entrepreneurship on campus that we aspired to be when we first opened in November 2016.

Proudly, I can also announce that the world is now noticing the Wond’ry as a leader in campus innovation and entrepreneurship. Just this past month, the Wond’ry was honored as the “Global Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Center” by the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers, the leading consortium of university innovation and entrepreneurship centers globally. Likewise, back on campus, the Wond’ry also partnered with Owen’s Center for Entrepreneurship to sponsor the first annual Vanderbilt Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which attracted several hundred Vanderbilt alumni innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors from across the United States. With that kind of success, it is clear why Thomson Reuters, for the second year in a row, ranks Vanderbilt University in the Top Ten for “World’s Most Innovative Universities,” a significant increase from our 20th ranking only two years ago, prior to our opening.

Yet we still continue to innovate and grow. Coming this December, I am also excited to announce several new programs and workshops including Engage Gen Z, Dinner in the Dark, and the kick-off of our fireside chat series covering topics ranging from community revitalization to increasing representation in tech. I am sure these events will drive insightful conversations and facilitate lively future collaborations.

I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve this community and to bring impactful innovation to Vanderbilt. We welcome you to come to the Wond’ry any time, to explore your innovation passions and endeavors.

Innovate Onward!

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

Wond’ry Wins Outsanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Center Award

The Wond’ry was the proud recipient of this year’s Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC) Oustanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Center Award for 2018!  Given each year to an entrepreneurship center still within its first five years of opening, the award recognizes excellence in supporting a culture of entrepreneurship.  With only two years of operation under consideration by GCEC judges, the Wond’ry is one of the youngest entrepreneurship centers ever to win the award.

Vanderbilt Ranks In Top 10 of Reuters’ “Most Innovative Universities”

For the second year in a row, Vanderbilt has claimed a spot in the top 10 of Reuters’ list of the “World’s Most Innovative Universities”.  Competing with  100 other finalists, Vanderbilt’s efforts in innovation–from the Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization which opened in 2011 to the Wond’ry which opened in 2016–have helped propel it to the top 10.  The announcement of the Vanderbilt Data Science Institute this fall promises that the school will continue to innovate.

Featured Upcoming Events:

Engage Gen Z

Generation Z will make up 40% of consumers by 2020 and is the most powerful consumer base ever. Understanding how they see your brand, how they interact with your media, and how they buy will give your company an incredible advantage as these young and driven GenZers get set to change the world.  This informational event will help you understand who Generation Z is, what they do that makes them so unique, and how you can connect with them as consumers.  November 27, from 6:00-7:30 PM, on the 3rd floor of the Wond’ry.


Dinner in the Dark

Next Steps at Vanderbilt student and Wond’ry Ambassador, Darko Osman, will lead a sensory awareness experience called Dinner in the Dark.  Participants will get a sense of what it’s like to live with the challenges of visual impairment as they enjoy a delicious meal and interact with other students, faculty, and staff–blindfolded.  November 29 at 6:00-8:00 PM, on the 1st floor of the Wond’ry; RSVP required.


Affordable Housing Fireside Chat

Join us for the topic everyone in Nashville is weighing in on–affordable housing.  A representative from the Nashville Mayor’s Office of Economic and Community Development will discuss the issues affecting Nashville residents as the city continues to grow.  December 3 at 12:30-2:00 PM, on the 3rd floor of the Wond’ry.

Highlights from Recent Events:

Disruptive Women Lead

The Wond’ry played host to 21 women of color from Vanderbilt, Belmont, Lipscomb, Middle Tennessee and Spelman universities for the Nov. 10 kickoff of the first Disruptive Women Lead cohort.

Disruptive Women Lead is aimed at bridging the gap between organizations that want race and gender diversity in their boardrooms and management and the women who could fulfill those roles.


VandyHacks V

The Wond’ry played host again this year to VandyHacks Hackathon V, November 2-5, 2018.  Six hundred enterprising students came to the event, which saw groups working on projects start-to-finish in only 36 hours.  Participants worked around the clock until the Sunday morning deadline.  Over 80 projects were showcased with 5 being selected to give a final round live pitch to a panel of judges. The winning team, Seismic Data, created an audio-based surveillance system.

FutureVU Mobility Expo

On November 6th, FutureVU held an informational expo at the Wond’ry focusing on mobility and transportation.  Chancellor Zeppos opened the exposition with a rousing speech affirming Vanderbilt’s goals with the FutureVU program.  Guests were invited to try their skill at a scooter obstacle course hosted by Lime and Bird, or take a tour of one of Nashville Metro’s new WeGo buses.  Booths and presentations focused on issues related to campus traffic and logistics, as well as displays of planned improvements to campus in the coming years.


Vanderbilt Entrepreneurship Conference

On November 9th, the first annual Vanderbilt Entrepreneurship Conference was hosted by the Center for Entrepreneurship (C4E) of the Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management.  Attendees from inside and outside the Vanderbilt community met for the all-day conference, which included panels and networking events.  The Wond’ry’s own Evans Family Executive Director, Robert Grajewski, spoke on a panel regarding campus innovation.  A reception for the event was held afterwards at the Wond’ry.

In the News:

Our Pillar Programs:

Innovation Garage

In the Innovation Garage, an array of corporate 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 PreLaunch program that provides the foundational knowledge needed to successfully assess an idea, as well as a PostLaunch program aimed at aspiring entrepreneurs that are ready to learn the steps needed to launch a venture. These 7-week programs are 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.

Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship

The Social Innovation Program assists students, faculty, and staff with  designing a business model that uses revenue to solve societal issues, from food deserts and poverty to education and affordable housing. Each year, the Wond’ry focuses on partnering with local and regional non-profit and government organizations to lend Vanderbilt’s mental capital in order to develop solutions.

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

Holiday Hours
Wond’ry Makerspaces will be closed Nov. 19-23 for Thanksgiving Break.  Wond’ry Staff Offices will be closed Nov. 22 & 23.


Makerspace Safety Seminar
A one-hour course required before accessing Wond’ry Makerspaces.  No reservation required.

Every Monday through Thursday, 7-8pm
the Wond’ry, 2nd floor


Electronic Kit Building Workshop
Learn the basics of working with electronic circuits.

Every Friday, 3-5pm
the Wond’ry, 2nd floor


Engage Gen Z
Who are Generation Z, and how do you market to them? Come learn more at this talk hosted by consulting agency Gen Z Designs.

November 27, 6-7:30pm
the Wond’ry 3rd floor


Vinyl Cutting Workshop
Come learn how to use the Wond’ry’s vinyl cutter to make cool shapes you can stick on walls and windows!

November 28, 6-7pm
the Wond’ry 2nd floor


AR/VR Monthly Meetup
Nashville-area VR enthusiasts meet to hang out, discuss advancements in VR, and try out new software.

November 29, 6-8pm
the Wond’ry 2nd Floor


Dinner in the Dark
Come join us for Dinner in the Dark, a sensory awareness experience which emphasizes the challenges faced by people with vision impairment.  Seating limited.

November 29, 6-8pm
the Wond’ry 1st Floor


Affordable Housing Fireside Chat
A representative from the Nashville Mayor’s Office of Housing joins us for a conversation on how to make housing more affordable.

December 3, 12:30-2pm
the Wond’ry 3rd Floor


Virtual Reality for Interdisciplinary Applications Final Presentations
Guests are invited to put on a headset and step into varied digital worlds as the Virtual Reality for Interdisciplinary Applications class, led by Professor Ole Molvig, display their final projects in this open presentation..

December 10, 5-7pm
the Wond’ry 2nd Floor


Wond’ry Student Engagement Committee

The Wond’ry is looking for students interested in marketing and engagement ideas to help bring the Wond’ry to an even wider audience. Email theWondry@vanderbilt.edu if interested.

Join the Social Enterprise Alliance

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

Apply for the Inaugural Social Innovations Think Tank

The Wond’ry is accepting applications for the inaugural Social Innovations Think Tank. This student group will work with a leading non-profit and a government organization in Nashville to design solutions that improve processes and revenue. To apply, email Dominique Anderson.

ArtLab Call for Art Exhibits

The ArtLab program is looking for creative artists to explore the intersection of art and science for their April 2019 Exhibition, Focal Point: Lights, Lasers, and Lenses.  Interested artists are eligible to apply for small grants up to $300 to assist with exhibit creation.

Undergraduate students should apply online through the ArtLab-Wondry application site.  Graduate students, faculty, and staff may apply through the Curb Center application site.

2019 AlphaLab Gear Hardware Cup 2019 applications open

The AlphaLab Gear Hardware Cup is a pitch competition for early-stage hardware startups.  To be eligible, you must be an early-stage hardware startup with at least one physical product component.

Don’t let the term hardware scare you off! Physical products include but are not limited to: manufactured products, IoT/connected devices, health/medical, consumer products, consumer electronics, food, fashion, robotics, etc.

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.

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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