Idea Factory helps students realize their dreams


    Senior marketing major Serena Silvan said she was crossing campus last fall when a poster about a mobile app competition caught her eye.

    Always an opportunist, Silvan said she immediately recognized this as a chance to act on one of her ideas.

    Silvan wanted to develop an app called iPoints that would improve organization and communication within fraternities and sororities, so she submitted her idea to the competition.

    Now, Silvan has the app on her phone, and is preparing to release iPoints to the public by the end of the month.

    Silvan didn’t create iPoints by herself. Her ambition led her to the Idea Factory, where she was connected with a mentor who would provide her with the necessary coding to turn her idea into reality.

    Tucked away on the second floor of Rees-Jones Hall, the Idea Factory provides students with resources which can help them expand on their education through entrepreneurial ventures and prototype development.

    The Idea Factory give TCU students access to a 3-D printer, mobile app developers, renewable energy sources, project funding and more if they have ideas and motivation.

    “I think the Idea Factory is absolutely amazing,” Silvan said. “So many college students want to invent this and do that, but where do they start? That’s what the Idea Factory gives us.”

    Michael Daniels, a senior entrepreneurial management major, is utilizing the Idea Factory’s resources to help him build a device that uses solar panels to power cooling systems in cars.

    “I definitely recommend that people check out the Idea Factory,” Daniels said. “They work with all different student projects to help develop a model that will get a prototype into action.”

    In 2011, TCU students designed educational products to help teach elementary and middle school students. These undergraduates created a product called Pangea Mat and Cutter, an informational map of Pangea and a play dough cutter in the form of the supercontinent to teach younger generations about plate tectonics.

    More than 100,000 students in five different countries are now using the Pangea Map and Cutter just three years after its invention.

    Eric Simanek, director of the Idea Factory, said the institution also gives students the chance to network; and not only within the student body, but with faculty and members of the community who can help them achieve their wildest ideas.

    Although Simanek recognizes that the Idea Factory can often serve as a stepping-stone in particular for students involved in the Neeley Entrepreneurship Center, he said that students of all disciplines are allowed to work with the Idea Factory on their proposals.

    “Higher education is not checking off a series of boxes to get a degree, but it’s actually lining up or stacking a set of boxes to reach new heights or new places,” Simanek said.

    Simanek added that the Idea Factory will continue to push the boundaries of a college education by providing students with the resources necessary to succeed in their creative projects.