2, Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States
3, Materials Science & Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States
Entrepreneurship plays a crucial role in economic development by promoting technological innovation and job creation. A lack of experience and training in technology entrepreneurship is a problem that often persists up to and including doctoral training, and many universities are at a loss as to how to prepare students interested in an entrepreneurial career path. In order to address this pain point, the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA created the Nanovation Competition outreach program in the 2016-2017 academic year. In this after-school competition, teams of middle and high school students in Southern California compete with the help of UCLA STEM graduate student mentors to generate nanotechnology-based product ideas and develop business plans which they then pitch in a “Shark Tank”-style event. The nanotechnology topics are primarily based on CNSI’s Nanoscience Institute program led by Professor Sarah Tolbert, which is a teacher training program now its 14th year aimed at bringing cutting-edge nanoscience concepts to classrooms in the greater LA area. The larger goal of the Nanovation program is to introduce the growing culture of technology and entrepreneurship to students at an earlier age, which can foster economic growth in Southern California.
In addition to explaining the nature and goal of our Nanovation competition, this presentation will discuss the outcomes of this program over the last two years and cover strategies for fostering positive volunteer and mentoring experiences, creating robust professional development for graduate students and K-12 teachers in STEM and entrepreneurship, and winning financial support to sustain these programs over the long-term.