U-Imagine Center gives entrepreneurial inspiration

Johnny Myers

jomyers@ursinus.edu

A 2017 “Washington Examiner” article by Brendan Pringle claims that millennials are the least entrepreneurial generation in the past 100 years. Maureen Cumpstone, the U-Imagine Center’s Entrepreneur in Residence, is helping Ursinus students buck this trend by creating a space
for entrepreneurial activity to flourish on campus. Events that the U-Imagine Center hosts to bolster entrepreneurial action range from the popular Bear In- novation Competition, to the new Jumpstart program, and this semester’s Introduction to Design Thinking Series.

The U-Imagine center has partnered with the Instructional Technology Department in the library to run a series of work- shops in Design Thinking. The first workshop, “Introduction to Design Thinking,” is a “problem- solving process that focuses on the human element, users, and comes up with creative and innovative solutions,” according to Cumpstone.

“Companies are lookingfor employees that can work through an iterative process, which is what we teach at the U-Imagine Center.” —Maureen Cumpstone, the U- Imagine Center’s Entrepreneur in Residence

The first class was attended by both students and faculty, as well as an entrepreneurial educator from West Chester.
The class focused on “empathy, understanding what the user’s needs are, what the human element is, and defining the problems surrounding it- what are the problems you’re trying to solve, going through the ideation stage, going big and narrowing it down into smaller ideas, proto- typing it and getting feedback,” said Cumpstone. The second of the workshops, “Introduction to Game Design,” allowed students and faculty to design a game of their choice. The third class, “Introduction to Video Production,” uses design-thinking principles to create videos.

The final class, “Introduction to User Experience,” was co-taught by Anna Budny ’18. Budny found that there was a lot of opportunity for jobs in the tech space for people who are not coders or computer science majors. “There are a lot of career opportunities for students graduating to apply their liberal arts background and competencies in the tech space, even if they don’t have technical skills,” said Cumpstone. “Budny has a background in user experience design.”

“Companies are looking for employees that can work through an iterative process, which is what we teach at the U-Imagine Center. You come up with an idea, bring forward a product to users, and develop it so that by the time you’re spending considerable resources on it, you know it’s something people are willing to pay for,” Cumpstone said.

“I was grateful for the opportunity to step into a position of leadership and I learned so much about what it takes to run
a successful program. Since I had been in the UC Digital Spark Summer Program previously, it was awesome to be able to pass along what I learned to other students as they gained experience,” Budny said.

“There are a lot career opportunities for students graduating to apply their liberal arts background and competencies in the tech space, even if they don’t have technical skills.”—-  Maureen Cumpstone, the U- Imagine Center’s Entrepreneur in Residence, Center

Digital Spark is a program that “pairs and partners’ students with local startups and business to provide digital marketing service,” said Cumpstone. The U-Imagine Center pays students a stipend to participate in the program. Tim Miller ’20 described Digital Spark as “a program where you learn marketing techniques. Because Ursinus doesn’t have a marketing major, the U-Imagine Center will team you up with a company in the Philadelphia area. You have a once-a-week class where you learn social media techniques, and work with a company that
is trying to grow their social media presence.” Miller used his Digital Spark experiences to his advantage, bolstering his resume and going out into the professional world with his new skills. “After I did Digital Spark, I realized that I really liked marketing. I went on and got a marketing internship in Boston. I plan to go into marketing after college,” Miller said.

“I was grateful for the opportunity to step into a position of leadership and I learned so much about what it takes to run a successful program.” —Anna Budny Class of 2018

Cumpstone sees an opportunity for students who want to build their digital analytics skills to connect small businesses with students who are proficient in data analytics. Interested students should email mcumpstone@ ursinus.edu to learn more about potential programs and how students can make data analytics a larger part of campus.