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Design Horizons: CU Denver students drive innovation and entrepreneurship

The inaugural Design Horizons Entrepreneurial Fellows Program is an immersive nine-month, co-curricular learning journey for CU Denver students passionate about entrepreneurship, innovation, design, and all forms of creativity. Created in partnership with the College of Arts & Media (CAM), the College of Engineering, Design and Computing (CEDC), the Business School, and Creative Startups, this program provides students an unparalleled opportunity to develop a new creative venture, establish professional networks, and build leadership skills.

24 undergraduates were selected from across the university to rapidly develop entrepreneurial competency and leadership skills through completing team-based projects, working closely with professional mentors, and participating in on- and off-campus networking events. Student teams identified compelling challenges, designed and tested solutions with users and community members, and developed viable business model for their ideas. The Design Horizons Fellows’ teams were able to pitch at startup events, meet regional investors in the Denver-metro region, and launch their own high-impact creative ventures.

On April 27, 2021, the inaugural group of fellows participated in the finale pitch night, with attendance by Dean Laurence Kaptain (CAM), Dean Martin Dunn (CEDC), Director of the Jake Jabs Center Professor Madhavan Parthasarathy, and industry mentors from across the country.  Five new venture ideas were pitched from the Design Horizons teams: Bloque, Queernet, Hey What’s Local, Operation Sunday, and Transcend.  The venture ideas represented the apex of technology, arts, media, and business, and were cheered on by the pitch night participants.  Particular ideas ranged from next generation, state-of-the-art hydration devices for consumers, to an online platform that connects Queer Youth with supportive communities and online resources, a digital platform to empower locally-owned small businesses in the food-and-drink industry​, a networking system for creating social impact and empowering emerging artists, and a site for made-to-order clothing from a diverse inclusive community.

Three Design Horizons teams walked away with pitch night awards.  Bloque, led by architecture and engineering students Saeed Amirchaghmaghi and Afu Vue, was awarded the Design Horizons’ Most Viable Award; Queernet, led by CAM student Luis Hernádez, was awarded the Design Horizons’ Biggest WOW Award; and Operation Sunday, led by architecture, engineering, arts & media, business, and computer science students Manuel Garza, Jazmin Barraza, Teiriana Ibarra, Davis-Jay Harris, and Jacob Wright, was awarded the Design Horizons’ Greatest Social Impact Award.  Congratulations to these teams and all fellows of the inaugural Design Horizons program.

With a focus on inclusivity, social engagement, and innovation, Design Horizons empowers our diverse and immensely talented students to become the next generation of creative and technology industry leaders. Special thanks goes to the Design Horizons leadership, including Sarah Engel, Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship Associate Director; Professor Kristin Wood, CEDC Senior Associate Dean of Innovation and Engagement; former CAM Associate Dean Laurie Baefsky; Russell Lannutti and Jacob Atkinson from the Jake Jabs Center; and Alice Loy and Lena Ramfelt from Creative Startups. 

Applications for the 2021-2022 Design Horizons Entrepreneurial Fellows Program will open soon.  Any CU Denver undergraduate student can apply or be nominated by a faculty member or mentor. Preference will be given to students from the College of Arts & Media, the College of Engineering, Design and Computing, and the Business School.

CU Denver Engineering, Design and Computing View All

At the CU Denver College of Engineering, Design and Computing, we focus on providing our students with a comprehensive engineering education at the undergraduate, graduate and professional level. Faculty conduct research that spans our five disciplines of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, bioengineering, and computer science and engineering. The college collaborates with industry from around the state; our laboratories and research opportunities give students the hands-on experience they need to excel in the professional world.

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