[Worldkings] Top ideas organizations in the world (P. 40) Baker Institute (USA): A place to turn students' ideas into reality


(Worldkings.org) For those with a passion for problem solving and innovative design-thinking, Lehigh University sponsors the Baker Institute, an organization dedicated to helping transition students’ ideas from the drawing board to the real world.

The Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity, & Innovation is a premier Lehigh University organization that strives to educate and advance entrepreneurial thinking across campus. Established in 2010 by alumnus Dexter Baker, the organization strives to empower students to become innovative leaders across disciplines rather than follow in the footsteps of others, and to provide transformative experiences through the lens of entrepreneurship. The team at the Baker Institute does this through community outreach, educational opportunities, entrepreneurial programs, and on-campus events for students to get involved in.


So how can the Baker Institute help you with your sustainability initiatives? Shannon Varcoe, Innovation Programs Manager of the organization, says that the complexity and often overwhelming nature of most sustainability challenges makes it the perfect candidate for using the design-thinking process. The team at the Baker Institute can provide guidance with from the very beginning of your initiative. “We work with any student that has an idea. Our department provides coaching and mentoring, and people can pitch ideas to us with literally just a problem that they’ve identified. So if people have an idea we can set them up with someone to talk about it...it’s a really great way for students to just jump right in and get involved,” Varcoe explained.

There are also specific events dedicated to just getting your ideas out into the world, such as monthly Eureka! Pitch Nights, where students are given the opportunity to pitch their creative ideas to a board of experts, and campus-wide events such as the Makeathon and Creativate. Matthew Fainor, a junior IDEAS major, says that these events are integral for getting feedback on sustainability-related initiatives. “If you have a sustainability-focused idea or project, Creativate is a great way to get ideas from other people who may also be interested in the project or people from entirely different fields. It's also a great way to connect with people around and off campus who may be able to help you...I have left Creativate both years now with lots of notes and lots of feedback to think about,” Fainor explains.


The Baker Institute also runs a program called The Hatchery, which is an immersive, full-time learning experience throughout the summer where participants utilize the design thinking process to develop solutions to real problems and test potential business ventures. One of the focus areas (called “nests”) in The Hatchery is The Homeland Nest: Habitat for Humanity, focused primarily on homelessness, sustainable housing and community empowerment challenges. This is the perfect opportunity for students to get involved with sustainability-focused initiatives and showcase their passion for entrepreneurship.


According to sustainability.lehigh.edu

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