By Liz Sharkey ’15
The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate is designed to provide undergraduate students with a pathway to pursue a rigorous cross-disciplinary study of innovation and entrepreneurship. Students in all areas of study are welcome to pursue the I&E Certificate.
Along with its class requirements, the I&E Certificate entails two immersive co-curricular experiences. Students are given the opportunity to apply their studies to the real world and can fulfill these learning requirements through a variety of different experiences.
We spoke with three of the over 100 students who are enrolled in the Certificate to learn more about their experiential learning.
Senior Economics major, Cameron Winders, is an I&E certificate student who spent this past summer fulfilling a part of the certificate’s experiential learning component. Working with BuzzRides, a UNC-based startup that offers a “free, safe, and environmentally friendly transportation and mobile advertising service for students,” Cameron gained experience outside of the classroom and helped expand the company’s service to Durham.
According to Cameron, BuzzRides recognized the “gaps in transportation” that exist between Duke and downtown Durham and is looking to fill these gaps. In order to do so, the service offers students free evening trips around Durham in cars paid for by local organizations. BuzzRides currently has two cars in Durham and is sponsored by Durham County Public Health, Accenture, and multiple apartment complexes in the city. BuzzRides expects to expand its service in the city, hoping to partner with Duke Football to help with game day transportation and with the Nasher to offer arts tours and transportation to private events.
Cameron’s summer work offered him the opportunity to apply the work he had been doing in the classroom. During his experience working with a local startup this past summer, he had the opportunity to actually see how a startup operates and gain a better understanding of innovation and entrepreneurship in the real world. Discussing the certificate program, he says that the experiential learning component is helpful because it encourages students to get out of the classroom and try new things.
Karishma Popli is a senior I&E certificate student majoring in neuroscience and global health. She has created her own global health track at Duke, connecting her studies to social entrepreneurship. While Karishma has always been interested in the barriers that prevent populations from accessing health care, she found herself drawn to social entrepreneurship after taking a class in Sustainable Innovations during her first year at Duke.
In 2013, Karishma spent her summer fulfilling part of the I&E Certificate’s experiential learning component, participating in Service Opportunities in Leadership through the Hart Leadership Program. She spent her summer in Rajasthan, India, where she worked with One Million Lights, an organization focused on distributing safe, rechargeable solar lights around the world.
Karishma has been involved in a number of social innovation and entrepreneurship projects. She has worked on a mobile health care delivery service with Sustainable Innovations and conducted a research project that involved returning to India to determine whether or not the solar lamps were actually being used. Her most recent venture is focused on teaching young girls how to build renewable flashlights in order to encourage girls to pursue academic careers in STEM.
Karishma says that her experiences with the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate have provided her with a foundation of innovative skills necessary to build a social enterprise. It has given her the opportunity to collaborate with people outside of her focus of study and has helped her grow more adaptable.
Rainier Rubin is a senior in the I&E Certificate program, majoring in Visual Media Studies. Originally from Palo Alto, California, his family moved to Durham while he was in high school. It was during his high school career that Rainier’s interest in film really took off. Today, Rainier has his own film company, Tahoma Films, produces videos for the Duke Basketball program, and was a participant in DukeEngage New York.
As part of the experiential learning component of the certificate program, Rainier participated in the Duke in Los Angeles program. During his semester in Los Angeles, he had the opportunity to immerse himself in the industry. This exposure has provided him with a better understanding of how the practices learned through the I&E Certificate program can be applied to the film industry.
As a student interested in entering the film industry, Rainier says that getting involved with I&E was a necessity. He feels that, because the film industry is constantly changing, the certificate has been crucial in helped him prepare to adapt to these changes. The certificate “has provided a whole different perspective on the industry that [he’s] going to pursue.” It has given him a better understanding of how the film industry functions as a whole and has widened his perspective, showing him he can fit into the greater industry.
This spring, the I&E Certificate will be offering its first ever capstone course! For more information about the program, click here.