By Jade Kim, Student Success Specialist at Base 11

This fall, Base 11 partnered with the Eva Longoria foundation to launch the STEM Entrepreneur Program to an online cohort of 29 students. The program, taught by Donnell Layne, co-founder and chief operations officer for educational nonprofit Bridging The Gap, prepares and equips students with the skills and knowledge they need to transform their STEM business ideas from concept to marketable reality. Students meet virtually on Saturdays, and although they are not able to use a physical lab space due to the pandemic, they can still learn the basics of various prototyping and fabrication techniques.

“3D printing was my favorite part of the program, and being able to understand how to create a product from the paper to the machine was amazing,” said El Camino College’s Cesar Belvedere.

A hallmark of the program is the co-emphasis of the non-technical concepts that fall within the STEM 2.0 framework, such as cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset, developing an aptitude for leadership, and other competencies needed to excel and innovate in the 21st century job market. 

“I learned how successful entrepreneurs got their footing in the industry alongside learning different ways to develop a business. From lean-startups to fast-failure iterations, I learned concepts and principles that enforces the concepts of resilience and rigor. It’s quite refreshing to see failure as being part of the process rather than just something that will be heavily penalized, such as in grades, as failure is just the beginning steps of a journey,” said El Camino College’s Maya Zeng.  

Layne also knew the importance of connecting the program’s lessons back to the context of society as a whole, ensuring a well-rounded, holistic approach to learning about entrepreneurship.

“We learned how to become responsible entrepreneurs and most importantly, innovators, through weekly discussions about sustainability, social dilemmas, and technology,” said Santa Monica College’s Marianna Mignanelli. 

“We started by learning content I never thought I would learn in my life, but the most important lesson we learned was how to transform our society and help bring about equality,” said Belvedere. “Thanks to Professor Donnell, we learned everything about entrepreneurship with this idea of being better not only to ourselves, but also to the society around us.” 

Students will be able to walk away with something tangible of their own design by submitting their computer-aided design files to Vista AST, an education tech company that provides curriculum, equipment and support services to educators and students nationwide, who will then print and ship the final products back to the students. At the end of the semester, students will present their final projects to a virtual audience of their peers, academic leadership, and invited guests. 

To learn more about how to get STEM EP offered at a college near you, click here.