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the Wond'ry E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

January 2019

With the start of 2019 and the kickoff of the academic spring semester, the Wond’ry has already hit the ground running, launching new programs to further catalyze innovation at Vanderbilt University. Notably, this past month, the Wond’ry was honored to receive an innovation grant from the VentureWell Foundation, one of the premier university innovation foundations in the world, to launch a new Social Ventures Think Tank program. This is the second time for Vanderbilt to have received a grant from the VentureWell Foundation, the first grant having been received by the Wond’ry in 2017 to jumpstart our now highly successful PreLaunch and PostLaunch pillar programs.


Through the Social Ventures Think Tank, the Wond’ry will now match Vanderbilt students with local non-profits to engage in developing innovative technical solutions – websites, apps, and software platforms—to further propel these organizations’ positive societal impact. Much like the success we have seen with PreLaunch and PostLaunch, we foresee this Social Ventures Think Tank, part of our Social Innovations pillar program, eventually becoming a marquee program for the Wond’ry. Most importantly, we believe that by matching those with skills with those in need, we can facilitate amazing immersive experiences for our Vanderbilt students while greatly improving our community.


Other new and exciting innovation workshops and seminars launching for the first time this semester at the Wond’ry include “Physical Disobedience: A Discussion on Women’s Bodies & Society” and “Recycling the Rails: Upcycling/Recycling Materials to Make New Furniture.” Likewise, we are excited to be hosting the international “Global Game Jam” game hackathon on January 25th-27th, where both professional and aspiring video game designers across all ages will be coming to the Wond’ry for three days to compete and create novel new video games across all platforms and consoles. I am excited to see what our faculty, staff, and students create!


Innovate Onward!


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

Applications open for Wond’ry PreLaunch and PostLaunch Spring 2019 Cohorts

The Wond’ry’s spring cohorts for the PreLaunch and PostLaunch programs will begin February 13 and 14, respectively.  Applications for PreLaunch and PostLaunch are now open, with a deadline to apply of February 8.  Students, faculty, and staff are all welcome to participate.

The PreLaunch program is a way for aspiring Vanderbilt entrepreneurs to determine the novelty and feasibility of their non-profit or for-profit venture. PostLaunch provides a step-by-step guide for aspiring Vanderbilt entrepreneurs to scale their validated ventures.

Graduates from both programs will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas at the end of the semester for a chance to receive non-dilutive microgrant funding.

Wond’ry receives VentureWell grant to develop Social Ventures Think Tank

The Wond’ry has been awarded a $30,000 grant from VentureWell for its flagship Social Innovations pillar program and its new Social Ventures Think Tank initiative. This is the second VentureWell Grant that the Wond’ry has received, the first award occurring in 2017 to support its PreLaunch and PostLaunch pillar program.

The grant will help support the launch of a Social Ventures Think Tank, a semester-long program designed to match student teams with local nonprofits to develop innovative technological solutions and further assist these organizations with maximizing positive societal impact.

Wond’ry featured in Army AL&T Magazine

The Wond’ry’s was featured in Army AL&T Magazine’s January issue in an article detailing a visit by the 101st Airborne Division  to Wond’ry Makerspaces last year.  21st Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, participated in a 3-D printing and laser etching exposition at the Wond’ry led by Director of Making, Professor Kevin Galloway.  The demonstration explored ways in which 3-D Printing could help improvising solutions on and off the field.

ESB awarded gold LEED status

The Engineering and Science Building, home of the Wond’ry, was awarded gold LEED status by the U.S. Green Building Council.  LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) status is the rating system used to rank buildings of all types as certified, silver, gold or platinum based on the building’s environmental and cost-saving green features. The Engineering and Science Building houses the university’s most energy efficient lab space. During the initial design phase of the building, 3D modeling was used to evaluate conditions of the site such as orientation, heat gain from windows, natural light, and others to ensure optimized design.

Featured Upcoming Events:

Physical Disobedience: A Discussion on Women’s Bodies & Society

Author and Personal Trainer Sarah Hays Coomer joins Amend Together YWCA’s VP Shan Foster for this discussion on women’s bodies, power, and influence, and the way society shapes–and mis-shapes–them.  Copies of Sarah’s book, Physical Disobedience: An Unruly Guide to Health & Stamina for the Modern Feminist, will be available for purchase courtesy of the Vanderbilt Bookstore.  February 6, from 6:00-7:30 PM, in the Wond’ry 3rd Floor Lounge.


Recycling the Rails

Upcycling and recycling aren’t just ecologically responsible; they can also mean big business. Robert Hendrick of Railyard Studios talks about how he turns 100-year-old railroad detritus into functional furniture and fine art pieces that sell for thousands of dollars… and how the rest of us can recognize similar opportunities.  February 7, from 5:30-7:00 PM, in the Wond’ry 3rd Floor Lounge.


Global Game Jam 2019

Global Game Jam is the world’s largest game creation hackathon, taking place at the same time all over the globe.  Nashville Game Developers hosts the annual event–where teams race to completely design and implement a game in just 48 hours–which is open to the entire Nashville community.  January 25, 26, & 27, 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

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


Global Game Jam 2019
Programmers, designers, artists, and musicians come together to build a functioning game in only 48 hours.  Sign up now to participate!

January 25, 26, & 27


VUSE+Owen Graduate Student Mixer
Graduate students are invited to this casual meetup of engineering know-how and business savvy.  Find a potential entrpreneurial partner and enjoy some pizza!

January 30, 5:30-7:30pm
the Wond’ry, 2nd Floor Lounge


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

January 31, 6-8p
the Wond’ry 2nd Floor Lounge


Physical Disobedience
Author Sarah Hays Coomer discusses innovative ways to fight against society’s expectations for women’s bodies.

February 6, 6-7:30p
the Wond’ry 3rd Floor Lounge


Recycling the Rails
Railyard Studios founder Robert Hendrick discusses how he managed to turn industrial refuse into profitable art.

February 7, 5:30-7p
the Wond’ry 3rd Floor Lounge


Open Ideation Session
Have an idea for a project, product, or business and need to brainstorm it with a group? Join Wond’ry Mentor Greg Lewis of the TN Center for Family Business to share your ideas and get some feedback!

February 12, 5-7:30p
the Wond’ry 3rd Floor Lounge


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 and give input into future Wond’ry programming. 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 theWondry@vanderbilt.edu if interested.

Turner Family Center’s 4th Annual Social Ventures Summit

The fourth annual Turner Family Center for Social Ventures Summit will be held on February 9th, 2019 and feature innovators and thought leaders from across the social impact sector.

Apply for the Inaugural Social Ventures Think Tank

The Wond’ry is accepting applications for the inaugural Social Ventures 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 theWondry@vanderbilt.edu.

Venture For America 2019 Fellowship

VFA is looking for college seniors and recent grads who are excited by the opportunity to learn and grow with a startup.

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.

LaunchTN Internship Opportunities

The LaunchTN Internship Program gives students an opportunity to work with an ecosystem builder or growing startup in Tennessee. The diverse experiences and relationships generated by these internships are memorable, enjoyable and highly relevant to anyone pursuing an entrepreneurial path.

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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