Cornell’s new entrepreneurship program, W.E. (women entrepreneurs) Cornell, recently announced its first cohort of students for the 2018-19 academic year. W.E. Cornell was created by Andrea Ippolito ’06, M.Eng. ’07, executive director of Cornell’s engineering management program and eLab instructor, to address persistent underrepresentation of women entrepreneurs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and empower more women to found and lead tech startups.
“We planned to accept 10 students into the program and ended up welcoming 22 students because we were overwhelmed by the number of brilliant women who applied,” said Ippolito. “This program will serve as a valuable launching pad to help women in STEM gain entrepreneurial skills. It will also create an invaluable network of mentors and colleagues to support them throughout their careers.”
The program will run through spring 2019 and invite a variety of STEM women, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to guide and mentor participants as they learn from potential customers, draft initial business models and develop their innovations.
Members of the cohort enter the program with an idea they want to further explore, and it is assumed that these innovations may shift and evolve during the course of the program.
Cohort members and their initial ideas are:
- Alyssa Holman, M.Eng. ’19: a treatment to repair and regenerate human hearts using biomaterials and cardiac cells;
- Wanlin Li, M.Eng. ’19: a mentorship app and web-based program to help international students adjust to life in the U.S.;
- Doctoral student Yuying Zhang: a fashionable spinal cord protector for competitive horse riding;
- Doctoral student Keeley McNeill: technology to maximize crop yield while minimizing contamination from fertilizers;
- Doctoral student Brianna Nicole Tate: a mentorship program to support underrepresented populations in STEM fields;
- Doctoral student Kathleen Hefferon: technology to convert plant biomass into biofuel by producing cellulases in large quantities at low costs;
- Madeline Dubelier ’20: a platform to recruit and support female youth to consider futures in engineering;
- Marie Kruth, M.Eng. ’19: biomedical sciences innovations that serve people’s needs;
- Xu Liu, M.S. ’20: a flow battery system for soft robots;
- Doctoral student Chinasa Okolo: machine learning algorithms to increase water conservation and better automate sprinklers for lawns, fields and farms;
- Crystal Zhao ’20: integrate human health and technology to help people better track their nutrition and dietary needs;
- Delia Hughes, MBA ’20: candy containing healthy ingredients and only 5 grams of sugar;
- Sheren Winarto, MPS ’19: a nonalcoholic fermented rice beverage rich in bioactive peptides and B vitamins;
- Naviya Kothari ’20: artificial software and machine learning to create software to identify biases against women in STEM;
- Drishti Masand, M.Eng. ’19: technology to help drivers assess their sobriety and alertness;
- Doctoral student Di Ni: a small, portable high-voltage energy supply;
- Vini Tripathii ’20: using artificial intelligence to create cost effective prosthetics;
- Doctoral student Maya Mundell: help first-generation students form effective academic habits and match them to higher education funding opportunities;
- Shanee Lu ’20: a synchronous metronome to help amateur musicians and dancers develop an inherent sense of rhythm;
- Alison Valbuena ’20: an educational smartphone app to increase the amount of food packaging that is recycled;
- Yashi Sanghvi ’21: a wearable patch that fully absorbs sweat;
- Doctoral student Oksana Mezina: new methods for delivering fresh dairy products;
- Sharon Dang ’20: an app supporting people with mental illnesses; and
- Divya Maheshwari ’22: a product to pull potable water from the air.
Students will have several opportunities to continue to develop their ideas upon completion of the program, such as participating in the hardware accelerator at Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, in the National Science Foundation I-Corps program or becoming a commercialization fellow.
W.E. Cornell is funded by a grant from the President’s Council of Cornell Women.
Molly Israel is a marketing strategist at the Center for Regional Economic Advancement.