In order to train IGERT students in interdisciplinary skills and become original thinkers, we have established a program in innovation and entrepreneurship. The interdisciplinary nature of our IGERT program by its very nature requires our trainees to innovate outside their core expertise areas. Our coursework and training modules emphasize solving real world problems through new ideas and critical thinking. This spirit of innovation persists through the training modules, weekly seminars and trainees’ PhD theses. Trainees will participate in the innovation program in one of four ways.
The first of these is as a continuation of the training modules. Since the trainees will be working in teams and completing three modules in the first year, they will be encouraged to build groups and develop innovative ideas that go beyond the NSL. The second way to participate in the innovation program is to engage with IGERT faculty through independent research units and to develop an idea around Network Science.
During Winter quarter, the IGERT weekly seminar focuses on topics of innovation and entrepreneurship. The underlying theme is to inform and educate the trainees on the process of starting with an idea and realizing that into a solution. IGERT trainees will work in teams to develop a project and technology idea for addressing a real-world problem or opportunity. This seminar would be the third way to engage in the innovation program.
We have also set up an entrepreneurship program consisting of two components: coursework in entrepreneurship and technology management and a new venture competition. Our trainees are encouraged to take courses that are offered by the Technology Management Program (TMP) at UCSB. We encourage our trainees to participate in TMP’s annual New Venture Competition, which focuses on transforming ideas and discoveries into successfully solutions to societal challenges. This would be the fourth way to participate in the innovation program.