Twelve students from around the country and around the world came together to start their time at Dickinson with the Idea Fund. KickStart Dickinson 2016 was the third annual Pre-Orientation program that we’ve hosted, and it was structured similarly to its predecessors. The entire three-day program culminates in a Shark Tank-like pitch competition, where four teams of three first-years each came up with an idea for how to make either the Dickinson campus and/or the Carlisle community better and pitched them to a panel of four judges. This year, our judges were: Ken Shultes, Associate Vice President for Sustainability and Facilities Planning; Heather Champion, Director of Employer Relations, Career Center; Brenda Landis, Multimedia Specialist and Media Center guru; and Tony Underwood, Assistant Professor, Economics.
We all met together on Sunday night in ATS, not knowing who the others in our group were or what types of ideas they would want to eventually pitch in just over 50 hours. After getting dinner together in the Caf and beginning to learn each other’s names, we played a few games of Ninja in the IF office to break-the-ice and were treated to Massey’s frozen custard.
Monday was officially Day 1 of the program, and the theme of the day was to see, explore, and ask questions. In order to come up with ideas for how to improve our community, the teams needed to get to see what’s already here first. After introducing the history and functions of the Idea Fund, we went on an in-depth insider’s tour of campus and Carlisle. On the tour, we highlighted previous Idea Fund projects (the Peddler, the Handlebar, the Hive, SOL), essential places around campus (the Quarry, DPS, Landis House, the cushies), and cool and interesting places in town (restaurants, shops, Bosler Public Library, Carlisle CARES, the Dickinson Law School, Hope Station, Lincoln Cemetery). To wrap up the Carlisle showcase, we took a pit stop at Back Door Café for lunch and to highlight the Take a Dickinsonian to Lunch program.
On Monday afternoon, we trekked out to the Olde Uptown neighborhood of Harrisburg to see the Green Street location of Little Amps Coffee Roasters, the local partner with the Peddler. After getting adequately caffeinated and enjoying the atmosphere, we had a thorough Q&A session with Peter Leonard, one of the owners of the shop and manager of the Green Street location. He talked to us about the history of Little Amps, their belief in the community-building power of a coffee shop, and the impact that they’ve had on their neighborhood in uptown Harrisburg. The students are definitely hooked, and they learned the best way to get through four years of college: lots and lots of good coffee.
Blood pumping from the caffeine and brains rushing with ideas, we had an extremely productive brainstorming session back in the IF office to translate what we saw throughout the day into possible project ideas to work on for the rest of the program. It was a classic IF brainstorming session, where we aim to literally create a storm in the brain to generate the craziest ideas first and then whittle down to the more realistic ideas. After dinner in the Caf together where the creativity continued, we were treated to a concert hosted by MOB on the Trellis under a beautiful canopy of stars. Afterwards, on a completely spontaneous whim, we all drove up to the Hawk Watch at Waggoner’s Gap to see the stars, get an elevated look of their homes for the next four years, and to be vulnerable with each other. And no late-night excursion would be complete without a run to the Carlisle Diner, the first of many for the first-years, to be sure.
While Monday was a day for observation, Tuesday was a day to grind. We had workshops throughout the morning and early afternoon on business planning 101, recognizing and leveraging available resources with Josh Eisenberg, planning for success, and planning the pitch where the first-years delved deep into the details and logistics of their projects and how to best present them. They then had unscheduled time to work in their teams to prepare the pitch however they wanted to with complete freedom of structure and format. The only requirements they had upfront were that pitches should be less than seven minutes and will be followed by five minutes of Q&A from the panel of judges.
Wednesday morning, 10:30 AM, Stafford Auditorium: the pitches get underway. The judges have their four criteria: level of thought, value added to campus/community, creativity of idea, and creativity of pitch. As each team got up and presented, the judges assigned a point on a five-point scale for each metric, with a possible overall score of 20 points. At the end of the pitches, the judges all came together to average their scores for each team and rank them from lowest to highest. The final results were:
- The Mural @ Dickinson, a collaboration between the Studio Art department and the College Archives to design and paint a historical timeline mural on the pedestrian walkway along Morgan Field
- Cups to Mugs, a project to connect student-made mugs in the Ceramics class to be painted by art students and used in the Admissions office to replace the one-time use paper cups
- Time Out, a partnership between students and the Wellness Center to hold regular mental health and stress relief programming throughout the academic year and to create a safe space for students to find alternative therapy
- Swap Box, a classic sharing economy idea of having a centrally-located box around campus for students to pick up things for free that they want and to leave things that they no longer want
These twelve students didn’t know each other fifty hours beforehand but worked really hard to not only come up with amazing ideas and pitches, but also ideas that are 110% projects that Idea Fund would be willing to work with to make a reality. In years past, there have been ideas for apps and other things on campus that aren’t really in IF’s wheelhouse, but all of these could be taken to the next level and move forward through the Idea Fund to become a reality. These students really came together, and it was amazing to see how much they could accomplish in such a short amount of time. We’re looking forward to seeing how much they accomplish both in Idea Fund and in general over their coming four years at Dickinson.
Brady Hummel ’17, Executive Director