The University of Connecticut’s Month of Discovery kicked off on Thursday, Oct. 5 at the Student Union Lawn and the Makerspace Bounce was the signature kickoff event.
Audrey Larson, a fifth-semester junior majoring in materials science engineering and one of the student managers at OPIM Innovate said the Month of Discovery is designed to get students interested in innovation and familiarized with the different programs on campus. She continued to share how there are a ton of innovation and entrepreneurship events for students to attend. Discovery Quest, for example, is a gamified program and part of the Month of Discovery that motivates students to discover and experiment with the fields of creativity, research and innovation. There are four signature events and if students want to participate in Discovery Quest, they first must register and attend the events to start earning prizes. The more events students participate in during Discovery Quest, the more points they will earn for prizes such as water bottles, baseball hats, backpacks and scholarships.
Makerspace Bounce was the kickoff event for the Month of Discovery and students went on a scavenger hunt to visit some or all of the four makerspaces, OPIM Innovate, The UConn Library Maker Studio, the Krenicki Arts and Engineering Institute and the Innovation Zone. Each Makerspace offered something different for students to engage with.
The UConn Library Maker Studio has a little bit of everything such as crafting and laser cutting. OPIM Innovate is tech-oriented, deals with circuitry and has VR headsets and 3D printing for students to try. The Innovation Zone at Werth Tower also has a bit of everything including woodworking, while the Krenicki Arts and Engineering Institute is about industrial design. One visit to any location and students gained entry to the carnival that had snow cones, cotton candy and multiple inflatables.
On Thursday, Oct. 12, Research Connections at the Werth Residence Tower gave students the opportunity to learn about research they can follow at UConn and learn about other research that can spark new curiosities.
Juwon Kang, a seventh-semester student researcher majoring in biology showcased her findings on the “Sense of Belonging” for Korean Americans living in Connecticut. She gave insight on how Korean Americans did not feel like they belonged because they did not feel represented by companies nor schools. She explained how she wanted to be the voice for minorities since she kept seeing microaggressions and Asian hate.
Kang, along with other researchers, not only informed students about what they studied and found, but they also told students about how to start a research project of their own and what opportunities UConn offers. One source of support is funding such as the UConn Co-op Legacy Fellowship Change Grant that offers students $2,000 for service initiates, research and social entrepreneurship.
The next event is the Experience Innovation Expo that will occur at the Student Union Ballroom starting at 12 p.m. on Oct. 23. It will be an experiential venue where students will discover the wide range of activities and resources facilitating innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity.
The Month of Discovery will end on Oct. 31 and students can attend as many events as they would like.