Carnegie Mellon Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Selects 2015-2016 Undergraduate Innovation Scholars

The Undergraduate Innovation Scholars Program attracts the next generation of innovative thinkers and seeks to increase the number of successful start-up companies involving Carnegie Mellon University undergraduate students.

This program, organized by the Carnegie Mellon Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and created through an endowment from the McCune Foundation, gives scholars the opportunity to complete a two-year program that integrates academic coursework, work experience in a start-up company, professional networking and mentorship.

“The Innovation Scholars program will provide me with the opportunity to connect with some of the most ambitious minds at the university, sharing and discussing ideas that could potentially lead to breakthrough innovations and startups,” said Michael Mawhinney, BSBA ’17 and inductee of the new cohort of Innovation Scholars.

The program recently announced its second group of scholars, which come from across the Carnegie Mellon campus and represent the College of Engineering, the College of Fine Arts, the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the School of Computer Science and the Tepper School of Business.

The 2015-2016 Undergraduate Innovation Scholars include:

  • John Choi, School of Computer Science and College of Fine Arts ’17;
  • Jonathan “JD” Dyer, College of Engineering ’17;
  • Matthew Hillman, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences ’17;
  • David Lu, School of Computer Science ’17;
  • Michael Mawhinney, BSBA ’17;
  • Mohak Nahta, School of Computer Science and BSE ’17;
  • Hannah Salinas, College of Fine Arts’17;
  • Albert Topdijan, College of Fine Arts ’17; and
  • Siddhant Wadhwa, School of Computer Science ’17.

“When considering a future career in entrepreneurship, or in any aspect of business, the people you surround yourself with will be vital to your success,” said Mawhinney. “This cohort consists of students from varying backgrounds and programs of study, allowing for more ideation and a solid foundation for innovations and potential startups.”

Benefits of being a scholar include invitations to entrepreneurial events, Spark Grants for specific projects, networking opportunities with entrepreneurs, and mentorship from current Innovation Scholars.

“Exposure to like-minded individuals is a win-win for both the current and incoming Scholars,” said Benjamin Alderoty, BSBA ’16 and current Innovation Scholar. “With one year in the program under our belts, we can share our experiences and insights into the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship, as well as direct the new students towards meaningful events.”

Scholars also benefit from an internship at a startup company and a grant to attend a Silicon Valley, California trek during winter break. Current scholars have completed internships with companies such as Spongecell in New York, New York; NoWait in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Innobuddy in Beijing, China and more.

“The opportunity to visit Silicon Valley and be introduced to first-class entrepreneurs and investors was an incredible learning experience that will stick with me forever,” added Alderoty.

To qualify for the annual program, supported applicants must be in the second year of their studies and need to have taken, or are planning to take, at least one course in entrepreneurship and demonstrate their entrepreneurial passions.