Published: Dec. 21, 2018 By

It’s been a big year for CU Engineering entrepreneurship. After starting at CU Boulder in mid-January, I have been focused on creating the most impactful set of integrated resources and opportunities, in and out of the classroom, to support our student and faculty founders and align with our college’s Strategic Vision.

While our engineering community has accomplished a great deal in the past year, we’re still very much in the early innings of a long game to build an engine for entrepreneurship and innovation through every step of the campus experience.

Students work on projects in the Idea Forge during Local Hack Day.

Local Hack Day in the Idea Forge.

When I take a step back to consider everything that faculty and students have explored over the last year, the overwhelming volume and creativity of ideas is astounding. Throughout 2018, we marveled at startups that are creating new artificial muscles to enable a robotics revolution, using connected devices to increase efficiency for livestock farmers, and fusing sensor data to enable faster detection of wildfires, along with so many more. A jaw-dropping 35 percent of our new freshman class opted in to crazy 8 a.m. info sessions about entrepreneurship during their orientation. Student-designed, built, tested and launched a rocket that went faster than the speed of sound, and we celebrated several student ventures that were acquired by big companies in our own backyard.

While the achievements of our student and faculty innovators are amazing to watch, startup success is only a byproduct of our grander mission: Training engineering students and faculty to be entrepreneurs and innovators in any industry, at any stage, across the entire CU Boulder and Colorado ecosystems. Some may come to explore entrepreneurship for the very first time before deciding to apply that innovator’s mindset and entrepreneurial skills in industry, while others launch ventures from the classroom, hackathon, or research lab.

No matter which way your journey into Engineering + Entrepreneurship goes, we’re always here to help, so don’t hesitate to reach out at

2018 Campus Entrepreneurship Highlights

  • Created an Entrepreneurial Product Design course, EMEN 4820, for the College of Engineering & Applied Science.
  • Launched three new blockchain courses across the university, making CU Boulder one of the Top 10 in the world in this area
  • Increased to four the number of year-long senior design capstones offering an entrepreneurship option.
  • Ran the first Hacking for Defense course, immersing students in the problem-rich environment of national defense and security, where they create solutions to Department of Defense agency challenges. One of our student teams was selected to pitch in San Francisco to Founders’ Fund partner Peter Thiel.
  • Held the largest university hackathon in the mountain timezone, Hack CU, with nearly 700 students from almost every state and six countries flying in to participate
  • Set the bar for diverse hackathons with T9 Hacks. Nearly 70 percent of attendees were women or non-binary students
  • Held the first-ever Blockchain Hackathon, in partnership with the CU Blockchain student group, and the first-ever Hardware Hackathon, Phase, in partnership with HackCU
  • Hosted the country’s biggest Local Hack Day on our campus, organized by HackCU.
  • Launched the first new track of the campus New Venture Challenge in several years, focusing on hardware startups and the specific resources they need to succeed.
  • Launched the Experiment Fund to provide student entrepreneurs with up to $250 in funding to run an experiment to validate their startup idea. (Email me to learn more about this.)
  • Extended CatalyzeCU from 8 to 10 weeks and re-designed the curriculum for the 2018 program, which was the first that featured a majority of female founders in the program’s five-year history.
  • Directed funding to Founder Stipends to help our CatalyzeCU founders cover their personal expenses like rent and food while working full time on their ventures over the summer, ensuring personal finance isn’t a barrier to launching a startup.