Entrepreneurship ingrained in students as soon as they arrive on campus

Freshman Andrew Camel has been involved with computers and computer programming since he was 12 years old, when he designed his first app.

When looking at college options, he focused on places that offered both strong academics and an institutional culture that encouraged innovation and entrepreneurship.

He found that place in Washington University in St. Louis.

“It was very important to me that the school I attended have a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Camel, who plans to major in computer science in the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

“The strength of Washington University’s programs and the rise of St. Louis as a startup-friendly city were major drivers of my choice to apply early decision,” said Camel, who took a gap year last year to work on technology investments with General Atlantic, a private equity firm.

Camel was one of 20 freshmen who participated in an entrepreneurship pre-orientation program sponsored by the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

As part of the event, titled Innovation-Discovery-Experience-Action (IDEA), students worked in teams to develop an idea or product and showcase it during an IdeaBounce.

Camel’s team won first place.

They proposed a dorm room security system for college campuses using a camera and motion sensor.

“Entrepreneurship at Washington University is really special because the entrepreneurship scene in St. Louis is starting to take off,” said sophomore Geoffrey Cheng, Camel’s counselor during the program.

“Budding entrepreneurs can find a strong network of like-minded individuals at the university and in the St. Louis region,” said Cheng, who plans to major in biology in Arts & Sciences, with a focus on genomics and computer science.

“From grants that target start-up ventures to networking groups for entrepreneurs, St. Louis does a great job of supporting the entrepreneurship scene,” he said. “In addition, the Skandalaris Center has created many opportunities to explore entrepreneurship. The Hatchery class, IdeaBounce, the Discovery Competition in engineering and summer internships all help Washington University students gain a hands-on understanding of entrepreneurship.”

Cheng participated in the pre-orientation program last year and chose to come back to help mentor incoming students.

“I like the manner in which the Skandalaris Center approaches interdisciplinary cooperation,” he said. “The pre-orientation program features a variety of activities, including panels on entrepreneurship, a city-wide scavenger hunt, and of course, an IdeaBounce. It provides a great introduction to all of the entrepreneurship activities students can take advantage of during their time here.”

For more information on the Skandalaris Center and entrepreneurship opportunities at the university, visit sc.wustl.edu.