By: Katie Herchenroeder

CEO Kurt Dawiec explains the event to attendees. Photo by: Katie Herchenroeder

On Thursday November 2nd, students from all academic backgrounds competed in a “Design Hunt” put on by Invention Corps of The City College of New York (CCNY). During the event, participants were tasked with creating resourceful solutions to systems on campus.

From reworking the school’s shuttle bus system to thinking critically about study zones in the library, attendees challenged themselves to start questioning what they can do, when they work together, to spark change.

Invention Corps was originally founded at the University of California (UC) Berkeley. Last year, The Zahn Center, a startup at CCNY that offers resources to those with new mindsets and fresh ideas, sponsored students Kurt Dawiec and Mahmoud Khedr’s trip to complete the “University Innovations Fellows Program.”

According to their website, “The University Innovation Fellows program empowers students to become leaders of change in higher education.” Dawiec and Khedr, enlisting peers, have decided to do just that- lead.

Below are the names, majors, and titles of the Invention Corps team:

Kurt Dawiec, Physics, Chief Executive Officer

Nathaly Ardiles, Electrical Engineering, Chief Operating Officer.
Mahmoud Khedr, Applied Psych, Chief Marketing Office.
Adomas Hassan, Computer Science, Chief Technical Officer.
Ariel Obando, Electrical Engineering, Chief Partnership Officer.
Khandker Ahamed, Economics, Chief Learning Officer.
Raneem Elsayed, History/Political Science, Chief Finance Officer.
Frantzy Luzincourt, Political Science, Outreach Specialist.

Invention Corps of CCNY started earlier this fall, but they have big plans ahead. The Campus had the opportunity to sit down with Dawiec and speak about the organization.

Dawiec shares, “We aim to gather a team of 25 undergraduate students at the City College of New York from multidisciplinary backgrounds to ideate, invent and inspire a new age of technologies solving issues in poverty, society, health, and the environment.”

Overall, Dawiec advises, “Come talk to us.” Photo by: Katie Herchenroeder

Yet, the always imposing question- what sets this apart from all of the “thats”- must be explored. Dawiec is ready to debunk any hypothesized similarities, noting, “I will say we are different from any club by virtue of just how broad we are. Most clubs are designed to create a group focused on one discipline or interest.” He continues on, “We are literally shouting from the rooftops that we NEED students from all levels of expertise and majors.”

In the short-term, Invention Corps is working on creating the aforementioned cohort of 25 students. The application, found here, is open until the 25th of November at noon. After completing the application, the team will invite select candidates for short interviews.

Dawiec feels confident that Invention Corps will not only improve a resume or make you the big dollars, although it could, but will provide a haven for self-improvement in several categories. He explains, “We want them to develop professionally, work on projects with professors, and really boost their resumes. But, more importantly, I want to develop their personal strength. Many of us come from struggle, financial insecurity, and terribly run public schools.” Dawiec further notes, “NYC kids have been dealt a bad hand for most of their lives.”

Dawiec is no stranger to this phenomena. “My high school [in Brooklyn] almost got shut down twice and I was not at all prepared for college,” he expounds, “When I started creating things on campus and changing things around me, I proved to myself how capable I was. I wish everyone could experience what it’s like to come out on top for once.”

Similarly, their long term goals consist of building their cohort and offering avant-garde solutions. Dawiec wants CCNY’s chapter to be where UC Berkeley was after their first year, “turning down projects from Google because they had the option to work with a professor they saw more potential in.”

City College differs from some of its counterparts, as most students commute to the campus everyday. Because of this, joining a club can be difficult and even intimidating. Dawiec has a message for all who are hesitant about joining Invention Corps:

“You’re capable. I think the scariest thing of working on a project is the fear of failure and lack of expertise. About failing, the truth is that you probably will. Most startups fail and most inventions suck at doing the thing. However, you’re not going to become a good changemaker if you haven’t made any mistakes and learned from them,” Dawiec encourages.

If you still have questions, Dawiec says you’re in the right place. “I can say we are going to train you to be an inventor and get you working on projects. But, what does that entail? What skills will I learn? What projects will I be working on? What professors?”

To alleviate some of this confusion, Dawiec invites you to get to know Invention Corps at CCNY. “If you shoot Invention Corps an email, or stop one of us and ask questions, we definitely have the answers for you.” They also have a growing presence on social media. On their Facebook page,  there is a video which has “been pretty well received” and does a “good job explaining everything,” Dawiec relays. Overall, he advises, “Come talk to us.”

No matter your age, year in college, or major, Invention Corps aspires to foster an environment where CCNY students can, according to Dawiec, “realize how capable they are and look back and say ‘I really did that’.”

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