The Quad Innovation Program is launching three community projects this semester. Originally a joint summer program between Colorado College, Pikes Peak Community College, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, and the U.S. Air Force Academy, Quad has transformed into a year-round collaborative business program that works to expose students to new industries as they problem solve with local businesses.
Under the direction of Executive Director Jake Eichengreen and CC alum Beka Adair ’16, Quad employs 24 students from the respective colleges. “It’s a great opportunity to turn ideas into action and solve key problems in Colorado Springs,” said Adair. The Quad business model gives Colorado Springs businesses the opportunity to work with students who aren’t “entrenched” in the business world. Building project teams with students from different school environments and backgrounds, Adair cites the collaborative nature as a key component of Quad’s success thus far. “There’s a huge brain trust from the students which means they bring new perspectives and new ways of thinking to the table,” she said. “The diversity of experiences helps all the puzzle pieces fit together.”
This semester, after running an intensive business oriented summer program for the past few years, Quad is transitioning to a year-round program and launching three pilot projects to commemorate the switch. Students apply for the specific project teams and then work a minimum of 10 hours a week meeting with the clients regularly, proposing marketing strategies, and calculating budget constraints. With budgets provided by each company, Quad also receives some funding from all four colleges along with the guidance of a faculty advisor for each project.
Not wanting to limit Quad or its students to any one industry, Quad’s pilot projects cover a variety of topics. The city of Colorado Springs and El Paso county are collaborating with Quad to develop a transportation strategy to provide more people with access to social services. Assisted by Professor Miller Stevens of CC’s economics department, students have undergone a three-week project analysis to narrow the project’s scope and clearly define their objectives for the remainder of “phase one” and the summer “phase two.” “This project is a really rewarding experience,” said Professor Miller-Stevens. “One of the most rewarding parts is that there are students of so many varied backgrounds, ages, and life experiences—which adds the meat to the projects.”
Quad’s other two projects cater to local businesses. Janska, a local clothing manufacture, is working with students to market its “Clothing That Comforts” line which works to design fashionable clothing for the disabled and those going through difficult times. Altia, a local user interface software company, has hired Quad students to work on its “Internet of Things” project which aims to create and market its new graphic data interface. Further details on Altia’s products were unavailable as it is protected by a Non-disclosure agreement.
As far as support goes, Adair says that the community has been welcoming from the beginning. “I think we’ve had so much support because the nature of the Quad is so exciting to people,” said Adair. Support from governments to companies to individuals have provided Quad access to their resources.
With the Janska and Altia projects on track to finish this May, along with the first stage of the city social services project which will continue throughout the summer, Quad is looking towards future projects that will give students the opportunity to work in industries they may not have known existed before joining Quad.
Quad’s full-time paid summer program applications open this week and new projects are in the works. Keep an eye out for applications in the coming months.