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University kicks off $20M innovation initiative

Turning thinkers into doers

portraits of Gerald Fine & Shirhonda White
Shironda White
Recent MBA Grad from Questrom School of Business
Gerald Fine
Professor of the Practice of Mechanical Engineering at the College of Engineering

Having a great idea is one thing. Bringing it to life—and into the world—is a whole other story. That’s why we mounted a $20 million initiative to support innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurial thinking among all our students—in every discipline, across all campuses.

Called Innovate@BU, the goal is to instill in students a keen understanding of business challenges, cultural engagement, and social enterprise so that, no matter their field of study, they graduate knowing what it takes to convert an idea into something concrete. And that often takes asking the right questions, forming teams and partnerships, networking, researching, pitching, making mistakes, managing risk and failure, and persevering.

Not tethered to a single school or college, the initiative is designed to draw students, and ideas, from across the University. Gerald Fine, an engineering professor who has launched six successful start-ups and helped create BU’s Engineering Product Innovation Center, is heading up the effort. The program will build on, and make more visible, BU’s numerous innovation-infused courses, entrepreneurial opportunities, and maker spaces.

“Regardless of the path our students choose, these innovation skills will help position them for more fulfilling and meaningful careers.”

Anchoring the Innovate@BU program is the new 6,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art BUild Lab IDG Capital Student Innovation Center, which serves as the focal point of student engagement and is staffed in a way that supports curriculum diversity while engaging the entire BU community.

One of the cornerstones of Innovate@BU is leveraging the world just outside our doors. Boston is an invaluable resource for our students to tap. Long a hotbed of innovation, Boston offers leadership and opportunity in virtually every field—from the arts to finance, high tech to communication. We’ll help students engage with companies, nonprofits, and the public sector in the city and beyond to solve real problems through cultural, business, and social entrepreneurship.

“Regardless of the path our students choose, these innovation skills will help position them for more fulfilling and meaningful careers,” says Fine.

Undergraduate research

Funding curiosity

Our students are curious and imaginative. That's why we pair them up with faculty mentors to conduct research projects beyond the classroom. They can hone critical skills while learning the language of their chosen discipline. Welcome to the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).

Nearly 700 students received UROP funding for projects in FY2018. Here are just a few of them.

  • Yara Tashkandi (CAS’19, Sargent’19)

    A research assistant in BU’s Social Adjustment & Bullying Prevention Lab, studied the predictors of mental health and well-being among collegiate student-athletes with counseling psychology Associate Professor Melissa Holt.

  • Gregory McKnight (CAS’19)

    An English major, studied the roots of hip-hop within West Indian poetry with Professor Laurence Breiner.

  • Shannia Coley (CAS’18)

    Researched the online dating experiences of students of color and the psychological effects of cyberracism with faculty mentor Brenda Phillips, a lecturer in psychological and brain sciences.

  • Avijit Minocha (ENG’18)

    Collected data on maternal outcomes and incidence rates so as to model the maternity ward of Mnazi Mmoja Hospital in Zanzibar, Tanzania, working with faculty mentor Muhammad Zaman.