10 Years of Innovation

By DOMINICK TANOH

The Middlebury Center for Creativity, Innovation, and Social Entrepreneurship celebrated its 10-year anniversary on Sunday Oct. 29. Alternatively known as the Innovation Hub, the Center welcomed guests to a brunch and roundtable discussion about its programs and successes at its headquarters at 118 South Main Street. In the 10 years since its inception, the Innovation Hub has become deeply intertwined with some critical student programs. From professional development programs like MiddCORE and Oratory Now to student run initiatives such as The Hunt and events out of the Old Stone Mill, the Innovation Hub continues to pursue its goal of helping Middlebury students develop leadership, creative thought, intellectual risk taking and reflection.

The Innovation Hub strives to “provide resources to learn about innovation, build skills, and connect with this [Middlebury] network and with Vermont,” according to Director of Programs Heather Neuwirth ’08.  Neuwirth went on to share that the state of Vermont has a rich tradition of entrepreneurship and innovation which works well with the Center’s programs. The Middlebury network also brings in local and globally based mentors that aid student entrepreneurs in developing and implementing their ideas.

The partnerships students find in the Innovation Hub often translate to concrete initiatives. For example, through the Middlebury Entrepreneurs program students like Michelle Yang ’17.5 were able to launch initiatives like the Share to Wear program, a pop-up store in the Old Stone Mill. Through this program, people can rent dresses for a weekend in the same spirit as Airbnb.

In another initiative, Gigi Miller ’18 started the S.T.E.A.M Girls initiative, a weeklong summer program offering weeklong robotics and computer programming workshops to girls who are between 10 and 13 years old.

The results of these two initiatives stress the greater goal of the Middlebury Innovation Hub: offering the means for Middlebury students to enact the changes they wish to see in the world. 

“We [the Innovation Hub] really encourage students who might not think they are an entrepreneur to come on down,” Neuwirth said. “They can come down and join programs.” With such a wide range of options and programs, any Middlebury student can benefit greatly from this invitation.

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