Knox College's newest immersive term blends entrepreneurship and software development, providing students with the opportunity to collaborate on a business plan and create a product.
Kickstart: Knox StartUp Term makes its debut during Spring Term 2015. Led by Knox faculty members John Dooley and Jaime Spacco from computer science and John Spittell from business and management, StartUp Term is open to Knox students from all academic fields.
"We're really envisioning it as an immersive experience, where you're going to a workspace, an office building off-campus, and working on something all day," Spacco, associate professor of computer science, said recently to students who are interested in Kickstart.
The teams of three to four students who are chosen for StartUp Term will spend the entire academic term developing their startup ideas and working in an office building in downtown Galesburg.
Students in Kickstart also will take a field trip to 1871, a startup incubator in Chicago, and they will meet periodically with guest speakers. At the end of the term, each team will make a formal presentation to a team of judges, including members of the Galesburg business community.
Students who want to enroll in StartUp Term already are in the early stages of considering startup ideas and putting together teams of people to bring those ideas to life. A series of "mixer" events during the fall and winter will help students identify one another's areas of expertise and interests.
Every team will require students with a wide range of talents, StartUp Term faculty members said.
Knox senior Matt Klich ‘15 is among the students looking forward to StartUp Term.
"StartUp Term will not be like your ordinary day-to-day classes," said Klich, who recently spent six months working at 1871. "I have no doubt that this will be a beneficial experience to students."
Each team's project proposal and marketing plan must be submitted by February 2, 2015, to be considered for acceptance into Kickstart.
"Any idea is open here. There is no limit," said Spittell, Knox professor and chair of business and management and executive-in-residence.
A 10-week academic term likely won't be long enough to craft a complete business proposal and finished product, Spacco said, adding: "The value (of StartUp Term) comes from working with a great team on a great project."
StartUp Term is the newest of Knox's immersive learning experiences. In Repertory Theatre Term, for example, students spend an academic term researching, designing, constructing, rehearsing, and performing two full-length plays. In Green Oaks Term, students live and study at Green Oaks Biological Field Station, where they take classes in the natural sciences, art, and the social sciences.
"We've had so much success with other immersive terms that the idea of having an entrepreneurship and computing capstone experience, if you will, in the form of StartUp Term was very attractive," said Dooley, who holds the William and Marilyn Ingersoll Chair in Computer Science.
"Students at Knox absolutely love immersive, real-time learning -- and this provides it to a great degree," Spittell said. "It's a chance to mesh academic theory and academic learning with real-life application."