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Go@CMU connects student innovators with community leaders

Idea innovators across campus and the community jumped right into the fall semester with CMU’s first idea challenge weekend held August 24 and 25. The two-day event was modeled after entrepreneurial start-up weekends that are held across the country and was under the direction of Tom Benton, acting director of the Maverick Innovation Center and Warren MacEvoy, professor of computer science, with assistance from Bryan Wachs, CEO of internet marketing service 
Students and community entrepreneurs met for an intensive two days of idea pitches, work sessions and workshops. Go@CMU is an event that encourages CMU students and community members to pitch problems or ideas in any discipline or for any type of business. Project leaders then have the chance to build a team of other students possessing various skill sets to help them to move the project forward throughout the weekend and beyond — with the end of hope of finding a solution that makes a positive impact on the future of our community and, potentially, the world.

The CMU Coleman Faculty Entrepreneurship Fellows Program was heavily involved with this inaugural event. Many Coleman faculty members and students participated in Go@CMU expanding on the program's goal of infusing entrepreneurship in programs outside of the business department. They also sponsored the Friday night event, buying food, drink, glasses and logo t-shirts.
The organizers of Go@CMU hope these projects will extend well beyond the weekend to become projects for course work and Student Showcase, and even beyond graduation. The event emphasizes team building and collaboration along with providing an avenue for community engagement with the university.
Idea presenters included both current students and also community members who wished to enlist students to help them solve real-world problems. Community members also served as mentors to the students. A  running theme of the event was through collaboration, ideas can turn into viable business ideas. 
Ryan Sheehan, senior sports management major and business administration minor, hoped to turn his idea for a mobile/digital app called Project Prep into a business. The app is targeted at high school students who need help determining what they want to do after graduation. As the visionary and lead for the project, Sheehan attended Go@CMU to find members to add to his team from areas such as computer science, psychology, sociology, marketing and business to bring his idea to fruition. He was not able to find everyone he needed for his team that weekend but found value in networking and presenting, and is determined to continue to work on the project. He is currently conducting research and working to gather students in other disciplines who can add value to the project.
Since this year’s event participation was largely driven by engineering faculty, most of the projects presented were in the field of engineering. Benton and MacEvoy hope that going forward, students from disciplines as diverse as art, culinary, social science and mass communication will also get involved in presenting ideas.

Event presenters hope to make this an annual event.