Entrepreneurship Outreach

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Physics Student Innovators: Image of Psi Star

- Outreach aimed at connecting physics students with real world problems for a better tomorrow

This program was started and developed by Professor Randy Tagg and the students at the University of Colorado Denver and Metropolitan State University of Denver. 

Purpose

The purpose of Psi* is to bring physics students’ inventiveness to fruition through material and creative support; to foster employer, investor, and community awareness of the potential for innovation by physics students in the service of human needs; and to engage physics alumni to use their experience to aid student innovators. Psi* is designed to help undergraduate physics majors, physics graduate students, and alumni explore wider career options for a better tomorrow. 

Participants: Psi* aims to include students from all backgrounds including

  • majors
  • physics minors
  • non-majors taking physics courses
  • pre-college students
  • adult learners who are curious about the practical applications of physics.
  • physics alumni within industry, government labs, and universities (sought as mentors and co-participants in physics-enabled innovation)

Format: Psi* works well in a workshop format or with smaller groups

Length: At least one session of 60 minutes. Increase time for group sharing or more implementation.

Group size: Recommend time: At least one sessions of 60 minutes.

What does it mean to be a physics student innovator?

As a physics student innovator, you will fill three roles:

  1. a personal role, engaged in a focused creative quest that is your own conception and is driven by your own passions;
  2. a team role, working with others to define and achieve a shared goal; and
  3. an organizational role, where you will fill perform specific tasks to help an organization sustain itself in making innovation possible. 

What level of ability do you need?

  • Any grade level works: What really matters is how boldly and persistently you work to solve a problem and how astute and independent you are in gaining the knowledge needed to reach a solution. 
  • A physics student innovator can be versatile to the point of virtuosity, capable of picking up concepts and skills quickly and perfecting them on the hard anvil of real problems.
  • You may or may not be naturally attuned to practical methods and designs, but you will fill the gaps quickly and aggressively acquire the competencies you need: you will seek experts to guide you but you will also work a lot out on your own, make mistakes, learn, make more mistakes, and eventually create a highly effective competency that continues to grow.
  • The same applies to analytical modeling and numerical simulation: you are a physicist and that means your stock and trade is to devise, use, and test precise models. 
  • You must cultivate a depth of compassion and empathy for humans and for life in general. 
  • Conceiving of ways to use physics and creating prototypes require a final stage: conveying the outcome successfully to its intended user. 
  • Your activity will be varied, nonlinear, and iterative. 

Areas of Innovation

Physics for Humans

Activities:

ACTIVE STUDENT INNOVATION
  1. Excite interest in physics as a source of innovation.
  2. Jump-start and support physics students as innovators.
  3. Engage alumni as experts, mentors, sponsors and co-inventors.
  4. Incubate physics student ventures.

TECHNICAL SUPPORT

  1. Provide a supporting physical infrastructure.
  2. Provide a supporting computational infrastructure.
  3. Develop and manage websites and internet-based resources.
  4. Create and support media production facilities.

KNOWLEDGE
  1. Foster technical competencies & achievements.
  2. Develop business know-how.
  3. Cultivate understanding of human needs, desires, and circumstances.
  4. Manage and disseminate knowledge assets.

ORGANIZATIONAL ECOSYSTEM
  1. Connect with employers, investors, business development centers, and professional societies.
  2. Integrate programs with the community.
  3. Obtain and manage funding.
  4. Ensure diversity, integrity, openness, and safety.

Further information

Articles focused on entrepreneurship:

Acknowledgements

Development of the PSIstar was led by Randy Tagg and now supported by the Society of Physics Students for the embetterment of all of us. The concept and early implementation as a student organization at the University of Colorado Denver was funded in part by the National Science Foundation IUSE program under grant DUE-1624938. This grant was part of the PIPELINE network of collaborating institutions working to foster learning and experiences combining physics, innovation, and entrepreneurship.