I Love our iSchool!

Editor’s Note:  This post is written by Dean of the iSchool, Elizabeth Liddy.

While I am proud of our iSchool every day of every week, the past five days alone made me even prouder.  One area where the iSchool excels is student innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity – which we saw exemplified in so many ways in multiple events in just these few days!

Here’s a quick rundown –

Wednesday Entrepalooza & Student App Competition – Two combined events, with Entrepalooza showcasing Demo Alley, and a Pitch Contest for student start-ups from across campus. There were cash awards for demos & pitches, sponsored by the Raymond von Dran IDEA initiative.  The Student App Competition had a specialized focus on web & mobile apps, organized by Keisuke Inoue, an iSchool Ph.D. student, who also teaches mobile app courses, and has two start-ups of his own.  $3,000 in prizes was awarded by local industries.  44 students in 11 cross-campus teams participated.  

Thursday & College Challenge – a two-day event including an all-night hackathon, and final judging event at Alliance Bank stadium, that challenged 77 students on 19 teams from all SU schools to develop an online, interactive MLB-based app. Teams competed  for a grand prize trip to New York City, including a behind-the-scenes tour & lunch at’s headquarters.  Three of the five employees who provided mentoring & judging were iSchool alumni:  Josh Frost ’08, Marc Squire ’11, and Ben Romy ’12.

Friday to SundayStartup Weekend Syracuse– This is the local version of a global grassroots movement in which aspiring entrepreneurs compete & collaborate while learning the basics of launching successful ventures.  Startup Weekend has held more than 400 events in 100 countries in 2011.  Our local event (#swCuse) attracted 115 participants, with 67 of them giving one-minute pitches Friday evening to gain votes, as well as attract technical, design, and marketing team members from other teams who didn’t get voted forward.  

Fifteen top pitches won, and others joined their teams and worked to produce their prototype and their pitch, with mentoring by folks like Mike D’Eredita, Marcie Sonneborn and John Liddy.  Of the 15 winners, eight were students in our interdisciplinary IDS courses. Professor Martha Garcia-Murillo was also a winner.

The competition ended Sunday evening with a final pitch-off with Friday’s finalists, judged by a panel of angel investors and venture capitalists.  Cash prizes for first and second place, plus the opportunity to pitch at Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator in New York City were awarded. A team of four students who conceived of Change-4-Change last semester in our What’s the Big Idea course — and who are now working on it in the follow-up course, Idea2StartUp — won the gold!

 I was at each event and was proud to bring some of the iSchool Board of Advisors along as well.  Such enthusiasm, determination, ingenuity, camaraderie, cleverness, and good spirits were evident at all events.  I am so proud of the students and our faculty, staff, and mentors who made all these events such resounding successes.  

Also on Friday, another iSchool Ph.D. student, Doug Crescenzi, released his new mobile app, Syracuse Game Alert, and in 24 hours, had gained 1,000+ users, myself included.

And then to kick off another exciting week, Ph.D. student Keisuke Inoue was selected to pitch his mobile app, PsyQic, at the NY Mobile First: App Pitch Showdown in New York City tonight.  Hosted by AppStori and NYC Mobile Apps with the goal of inspiring, educating, & accelerating the mobile community in NYC.

And why do these events matter?  There are many reasons, but key amongst them is that the type of creativity, ingenuity, problem-solving, team-work, and stick-to-it grit that we saw in these events is what will make our students successful, happy, and impactful in their future lives.

Couldn’t be prouder, iSchool!

Elizabeth Liddy

Liz is the Dean of the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, and a Trustee Professor.

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