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by Ryan Underwood | Sep. 22, 2016, 9:00 AM
Vanderbilt University has opened a new cross-disciplinary creative space called the Wond’ry that is the centerpiece of the Innovation Pavilion announced last year as part of the continued implementation of the university’s Academic Strategic Plan.
“Universities, at their very heart, have always served as catalysts of discovery — places where experts from many disciplines converge to learn, to teach and ultimately to create. The Wond’ry at the Innovation Pavilion builds upon that most basic instinct by fostering collaboration across Vanderbilt’s vibrant intellectual tapestry to explore new ways to benefit humanity in measures both small and large,” said Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos. “The center also represents one of the boldest outcomes to date of Vanderbilt’s Academic Strategic Plan, which was unveiled three years ago as a course charting the university’s future success.”
Through shared work environments, makerspaces and curricular programming geared toward building interdisciplinary connections, the Wond’ry opened at Vanderbilt’s Innovation Pavilion this fall. The Wond’ry is located in the Innovation Pavilion’s 13,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility, adjacent to Vanderbilt’s new Engineering and Science Building.
“The opening of the Wond’ry at the Innovation Pavilion as Vanderbilt’s cross-disciplinary hub of innovation marks an important milestone in the Action phase of the university’s Academic Strategic Plan,” said Susan R. Wente, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “There is a palpable excitement throughout campus about the creative, collaborative discovery the Wond’ry will help unlock and the immersive learning experiences it will provide for students, faculty, staff and the larger Nashville community.”
The Wond’ry is a place where abstract ideas are transformed into concrete realities that will make differences in people’s lives, said Robert Grajewski, the Evans Family Executive Director of the Wond’ry at the Innovation Pavilion.
“This center will bring together the incredible creativity and discovery that happens every day across the university,” Grajewski said. “The name ‘Wond’ry’—a combination of ‘wonder’ and ‘foundry’—reflects our mission to channel Vanderbilt’s intellectual energy from a range of disciplines and backgrounds into fostering true innovation.”
David Owens, professor for the practice of management and innovation at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management and chair of the Wond’ry’s advisory board, says innovation thrives when thinkers and doers come together to tackle problems from multiple perspectives. “The genius of the Wond’ry lies in its intentional design to fuse together talent from all corners of the Vanderbilt campus,” said Owens, author of Creative People Must Be Stopped! Six Ways We Stop Innovation Without Even Trying (Jossey-Bass, 2011).
Working across campus with partners in industry and in the community, the Wond’ry will advance four key programs:
1. The Innovation Garage: In the Innovation Garage, an array of corporate and nonprofit sponsors from diverse industry sectors will partner with Vanderbilt student and faculty teams on cutting-edge research and interdisciplinary projects on topics of mutual interest. The goal of this program is to identify disruptive and innovative solutions that improve industry, all while providing unique opportunities for students to build their skills via real-world problem solving.
2. Social Entrepreneurship: With the tremendous growth Nashville is currently experiencing, the city provides a well-suited environment for addressing and solving the issues affecting a rapidly changing urban area. The Wond’ry at the Innovation Pavilion is developing pilot projects focused on solving issues like affordable housing, transportation and health, which if successful, can be adopted into full-scale programs and partnerships with government agencies, nonprofit organizations and private-sector partners.
3. Innovation Culture: As the hub for innovation and entrepreneurship on campus, the Wond’ry will actively support faculty and student organizations whose interests align with fostering a more innovative campus culture. Likewise, the Wond’ry will serve as the entry point for those who would like to engage with the Vanderbilt innovation and entrepreneurial community. From artist and music exhibits to speaker series, hackathons and business plan competitions, the Wond’ry will host a multitude of events that cater to an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. For a full calendar of Wond’ry events, please see vanderbilt.edu/wondry.
4. Entrepreneur Pre-Flight: For aspiring Vanderbilt entrepreneurs, the Wond’ry will offer a multi-week Pre-Flight program that provides the foundational knowledge needed to successfully identify, assess and ultimately launch a quality for-profit or nonprofit venture.
Vanderbilt University’s Wond’ry is the campus epicenter for creativity, collaboration and entrepreneurship for students and faculty across all academic disciplines. The center hosts an abundance of programs designed to foster an interdisciplinary spirit of creation, innovation and experiential learning. The Wond’ry is located in the Innovation Pavilion, adjacent to Vanderbilt’s new Engineering and Science Building, an interdisciplinary research and teaching building.
Ryan Underwood, (615) 322-1003
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