Lehigh women encourage peers to innovate

A panel of graduate student women shared their thoughts on innovation at a recent program sponsored by Lehigh’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation.
The iDeX: Creative Keys to Success Interactive Event also featured a hands-on creativity session led by panelists enrolled in Lehigh’s one-year technical entrepreneurship master’s program.
iDeX is a series of events hosted by the Baker Institute, including speaker series, panel discussions, skill-building camps, hands-on workshops and networking opportunities. iDeX is the institute’s shorthand for idea exchange as well as a nod to the first name of the late Dexter F. Baker ’50, ’57G, who founded the institute in 2010.
The six student panelists were Jessica Garcia ’12, Diana Guerrero, Katelyn Noderer, Sokunthea Pen, Randi Tutelman ’12 and Marcela Zablah.
Building on one’s environment

“What entrepreneurship means to me is that life is a process,” said Guerrero, an industrial engineer from Colombia who is scheduled to earn an MBA from Lehigh in May. “You build everything in your life through your curiosity about things in your environment. An idea is fed by everything around us that we build: trust, a network, the entrepreneurial spirit.”
During the hands-on component of the program, the attendees, all of them undergraduate women, divided into groups to create prototypes of something that would improve life at Lehigh.
“You might have an idea and verbally describe it to tons of people, but everyone has a different thought process,” said Tutelman, a technical entrepreneurship student. “By prototyping and building and showing something, you give everyone a visual to look at and understand.”
Prototyping and developing concepts are important to Tutelman’s work. As an undergraduate, she studied design arts and entrepreneurship while helping Amy Mazius ‘13 start a jewelry and accessories company called Eleanor Kalle. In 2011, the pair won first place in the Baker Institute’s Joan F. and John M. Thalheimer ’55 Student Entrepreneurs Competition.
The technical entrepreneurship program, said Tutelman, has helped her gain experience “from the business side to the creative side” of her company.
Garcia, who holds a degree in global studies with minors in entrepreneurship and women’s studies, said students should consider working on technical projects regardless of their undergraduate major.
“Our technical entrepreneurship program has been getting a lot of applications from engineers, but many of the students in our program are arts and sciences majors,” said Garcia, who will complete the technical entrepreneurship master’s program in May.
“We’re trying to empower people to get their hands dirty and realize they can build something regardless of what they studied.”
The iDeX program was part of Lehigh’s Women’s Empowerment Week (March 18-22), which was co-sponsored by the Women’s Center, Lehigh Panhellenic, the Baker Institute and other campus organizations. The week’s events included a screening of the Half the Sky, a PBS documentary; a discussion on women’s identity, and a panel for graduating seniors hosted by the Lehigh University Alumni Association.

Photos by Christa Neu