Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dormcubator Week 1 (June 28,30)

This summer I was asked to participate in a 6 week pilot program run through the RI chapter of the Association of Independent Colleges and University (AICU) called the bRIdge and/or Dormcubator.  The program participants consist of students from colleges all over Rhode Island including Bryant, Roger Williams, Brown, RISD, and RIC. When I first heard about the program, I was told I would be helping develop a smartphone app to help college students navigate the city and to find events going on and networking with people in the community. The perks were that we were all to stay in the Snowden Hall for 6 weeks and given a meal plan. My thoughts were that I would have somewhere with A/C to sleep, meals, and an opportunity to meet some new people. The program was thrown together last minute and you could tell that no one knew what was to come of this. We are nearing the end of the 6 weeks and me being the flaky blogger I am, I thought I would back track and blog about my experiences.

The first meeting awkward as usual, especially since nobody knew exactly what they had gotten themselves into. We realized who all of involved in this and we met our group leader you could say, Andy Cutler. I am not really sure how he got involved but he seems to be quite involved in the community in many capacities. The soon found out that the program was an initiative to reverse "brain drain" in Rhode Island, meaning to convince students to stay in RI post-graduation. The theory is that if students wander beyond the gates of their university and engage with the community and the businesses in the community, they are more likely to stay. After we went around the table and introduced ourselves, Andy asked us to go around again and tell him what we wanted to get out of this program. We all said the same thing, we all wanted to expand our networks. So through the next weeks of the program, Andy did his best to expose us to his wide network of people and organizations.

Turns out Andy is on the board of the RI Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RI-CIE) which hosts many programs that have to do with helping local entrepreneurs and they have an incubator program called Betaspring which is a start-up accelerator for young entrepreneurs with a business they want to develop. They hold networking events weekly (I think) and that was our 2nd outing. We met the group Hope Street Media who we would be helping develop their smartphone app and many other start-up companies as well. I met someone from DealBird and Sexy Period just to name a few. Many of the students are from the Brown engineering program but also students from schools all over the country. I met a group of nice guys from Kentucky too. All of them have one thing in common, they have taken a problem and fixed it using technology the free market system. Good thing I had WaterFire to talk about, otherwise I would have had nothing to talk about with these people with start up companies.

While the networking event was awkward, it did restore my faith in traditional liberal arts education because while they do learn for the sake of learning, right now, they are the innovators. Through a career education, we learn what we need to learn to do a job, but not necessarily to create a new kind job titles, unfortunately. 

to be continued...
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