Campus Life

Lion LaunchPad to offer student entrepreneurs Special Living Option in fall 2017

New program to allow selected incoming freshmen to explore innovation, entrepreneurship alongside like-minded students

Students participating in the Lion LaunchPad Special Living Option will be housed in North Halls at University Park. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In the fall of 2017, Penn State will launch a new Special Living Option (SLO) at University Park for students interested in innovation and entrepreneurship. Called Lion LaunchPad Special Living Option, the program will offer a unique living experience for up to 20 incoming freshmen in its inaugural year.

The new SLO is one of several Lion LaunchPad programs that are designed to introduce undergraduates to entrepreneurial experiences and innovation through extracurricular activities.  

Anne Hoag, co-director of Lion LaunchPad, describes the planned SLO as “a place where students can live and collaborate with others who share their passion for starting something new — whether that’s a movement, a nonprofit, a business, or anything that inspires them to innovate.” 

The new SLO will join a growing list of Penn State programs designed to directly support student entrepreneurs and innovators, including the annual Global Entrepreneurship Week, as well as hands-on opportunities like Lion LaunchPad, the Summer Founders Program, Happy Valley LaunchBox, InnoBlue, and HackPSU.

“The Lion LaunchPad SLO will introduce students to the rich entrepreneurship ecosystem at Penn State,” said Hoag. “It will bring together like-minded students who can build on each other’s ideas and energy.  We hope to create a cohort of students who will go on to collaborate with one another throughout their years at Penn State.”

Participating students will live together in North Halls. They will also have access to special opportunities, including field trips, guest speakers, a maker space, and innovation-related service learning opportunities.

The SLO will be open to incoming students at any college, and will require no specific academic track or courses. In fact, program directors expect students from a variety of colleges and majors will reside in the space — and that the diversity of academic interest will help to fuel creativity.

The program will be affiliated with the Intercollege Minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ENTI), an interdisciplinary minor that offers courses across eight different colleges ranging from Arts & Architecture to Engineering. Launched in 2013, the ENTI minor requires three core entrepreneurship courses, in addition to relevant courses in a student’s area of concentration.

“Penn State continues to support innovation at all levels and in all areas of the University," said James Delattre, assistant vice president for research and director of the Office of Entrepreneurship & Commercialization. "The Lion LaunchPad housing option will strengthen that culture of entrepreneurship. We see it as a unique way to invite students to explore this community from their very first days on campus.”

Detailed development of the new SLO programming is now underway, a process which will include feedback and input from the faculty of the ENTI minor, as well as leaders from the University-wide Invent Penn State initiative.

At this time, the student application process and selection criteria for fall of 2017 has not been finalized. Students who are interested in the new Lion LaunchPad SLO should check the housing office’s Special Living Option website for updates, which will be published when they are available.

Last Updated January 11, 2017