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Insights from the US Fab Lab Network Symposium

Posted By Karen-Michelle Mirko, Wednesday, March 25, 2015

NACCE is delighted to be collaborating with the US Fab Lab Network.

Creating Fab Labs and Makerspacers is a top need for our members. I am on the ground this week at their symposium in the gorgeous Gateway Technical College SC Johnson iMET Center.  It has been an educational, resource rich symposium.

Most of the participants here are NACCE members. I can tell. Everyone is happy to share best practices, fails and are willing to problem solve with the participants that are just starting to launch. And continue the conversation after along day at an impromptu dinner. 

 These are some of the ideas that I have heard. Remember I am a Tweeter, and truck in bullet points. The US Fab Lab Network has been videoing the sessions. I will include links when they decide what they will share publicly.

Pre-Conference Workshop

Fab Lab & Maker Space start-up and implementation


James Carlson of School Factory - Way cool dude. 

Gives an overview of 8 types of Maker Space

  • 1.       1.Project Collaboration
  • 2.       Hackerspace
  • 3.       Open Democracy
  • 4.       Makerspace
  • 5.       Citizen Science
  • 6.       Co-working
  • 7.       Community kitchen
  • 8.       Artist Collaborative

 Need to a How to Start Kit? Check out the School Factory’s check lists


Tips for Starting a FabLab


  • Greg Herker, Gateway Technical College 
  • Matthew Wade, Patrick Henry Community College
  • Hugh Schuett, Metropolitan Community College
  • David Richardson, USFLN
  • James Carlson, School Factory


Discovery [Research & Interest Generation]

  •        Read the books and blogs that are out there
  •        Talk to your network and the Fab Lab Network
  •        Get buy-in from your executive
  •        Generate interest on campus with your colleagues, your students, your community  and your industry
  •    Let them use the equipment
  •    Bring in FabLab items – gears
  •    Bring in different kinds of people – let artisans show engineers what the equipment can do

Formation [Planning, Justification, Commitment]

  •        In planning, bring in every stakeholder, decide which equipment makes most sense for your community
  •        No one plan will fit your community. You need to know your community and their needs.
  •        Justification can be helped by engaging students, industry and potential students
  •        Commitment was easier when new buildings were added. A new FabLab was a natural fit.
  •        Generate commitment by offering FabLab as a SOLUTION. I see your engineering program is need to students. Have you thought of a FabLab? Do not sell it as a hot trend or a pet project.
  •        Utilize existing space to pilot MakerSpace. Test the concept.
  •        Need seed money? Think about going to Economic Development Corporation and tell them we want to diversify our economy and grow start ups.


Preparation [Installation, Training]

  • When installing, partner with your IT department. Every piece of equipment uses software. Some of it is expensive. See if there is site license on class.
  • When installing, focus on safety.
  • When installing, know your potential audience – HS, Kindergarten or adults. Or all 3?
  • When training, remind people they can fail. Not everything will be perfect.
  • FabLabs recommends to learn software
  • When training, have a process to onboard volunteers. Most Makerspaces are volunteers.


Activation [Implementation]

  • Opening Day – Get a PR Team. Use media to create a buzz.
  • Have a soft launch to test out the kinks then have a public opening.
  • Iterate, iterate, iterate.
  • Develop a portfolio of offerings for the collaboration space
  • Implement governance and value tracking
  • Add cameras above the machine turns the machines into the project. {RaspberryPi + webcam= CheapCam}
  • Become the GoTo Place in your City. Help them know what those way are. “Here are 20 Ways to Use your Makerspace.”
  • Have a script for your tours.  What do they see? What do they touch? What questions do they think about?


Forevermore [Enhancement, Maintenance, Sustainability]

  • For enhancements, add work stations so the folks aren’t too crowded. Add equipment if you can AND there is a demand.
  • Add storage space – extra wood, projects in process.
  • Reach out to new audiences – universities, home schoolers.
  • Keep MARKETING! Get in front of everyone. Make a video. Use video conferencing.
  • Advertising is not enough, how do you get them in there?
  • Listen to users. They have the best ideas.
  • Buy the latest. Your students will then be current and more employable.


Maintenance – Plan for ongoing expenses plus service calls, supplies.

  • Build a team of volunteers – faculty, community partners – to maintain and diversify program offerings.
  • How? Invite them to attend a course. Offer to fabricate a product that they need for there work. Offer the space for them to run their class.
  • Sustainability – Act like a business. Think through who is not in your space. Why?
  • Keep the energy high. Cycle in new advisors, board, members.

Mel Cossette, National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education and T.E.A.M.

Partner with industry. Take your courses and cross walk against employers’ needs.

Using Additive Manufacturing to Support Economic Develop & Entrepreneurship

Tom Crampton, Mott Community College

  • 1.       Engage StartUp - Help them develop prototypes.  Charge fee.
  • 2.       Engage existing businesses in their new product development
  • 3.       Engage existing businesses to improve existing businesses


And then an awesome dinner with 20 Movers and Shakers in the Fab Lab scene.

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Let's Talk Effectuation with Sara Whiffen

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Monday, March 23, 2015
Updated: Monday, March 23, 2015


What is Affordable Loss?

By: Sara Whiffen, Insights Ignited 


We asked our Coleman ECIA Community of Practice Effectuation Expert Sara Whiffen to weigh in on a good definition of the Affordable Loss principle and how it relates to community colleges as we teach and advise prospective and current entrepreneurs. Here's what Sara had to say.

  • Affordable loss is what you are willing to lose to make the idea successful.
  • What it is not—it is not expected return. It is not a forecasted upside.
  • Most importantly, it is not a desire to lose money.

It’s not saying that you’re going to throw it away or intentionally lose money. Instead, it’s saying that if you have to lose it, it won’t bankrupt you. It’s the recognition that innovation is based on experimentation and failures that lead to successes.

Affordable loss is the safety net in response to “true” uncertainty. Making decisions in the presence of uncertainty is the essence of entrepreneurship – economists tell us this. There is known. Unknown. And Unknowable risk. Affordable loss is how you can venture into the Unknowable territory. To truly be innovative you have to go there. Affordable loss serves as your safety net in this.


It sets you up for more options in the future. Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. 


Stay tuned because in Sara's next blog she will share the perspective of affordable loss as it relates to the intrapreneur within the community college.

Tags:  Coleman Foundation  effectuation  entrepreneurship  Insights Ignited  NACCE 

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Reaching & Engaging Faculty

Posted By Steven Groner, Saturday, March 21, 2015
Updated: Monday, March 23, 2015

We have worked hard to develop good answers to "What's In It For Me? (WIIFM)". Let me address what we have learned about adding value for the faculty at Kaskaskia College. In a later blog, we will share lessons learned about approaching staff and alumni. Of course, the WIIFM will differ!

The first step was to get the faculty listening. We did this by using a point that Feather River College made in their "The New World of Work" studies- 50% of your students will be self-employed at some point in their careers. Then, we gained agreement that virtually everyone can benefit from sharpened problem solving and critical thinking skills. Next, we have begun to introduce effectuation as one technique that addresses these two topics. We find that using the statement "the future is unknowable, but it is creatable" holds the listeners interest while introducing the effectuation concepts.

OK, so now the faculty is listening, and you must quickly get to the WIIFM- What's In It For Me pitch. The items that we think will work at our school are:

1. Focus on those that show interest and don't try to win everyone over immediately. We are in this for the long haul. For those showing interest, help to meet their specific needs.

2. Be a Gamification resource for your college and faculty. Our faculty is under great pressure to make on-line course content more engaging and interesting.

3. Construct Case Study "shells" that encourage customization by various programs. Invite faculty to blend them into their diverse programs.

4. Provide guidance to faculty members on how to sharpen student skills in critical thinking and problem solving. Help them create their dreaded self-assessment goals (required each semester) and provide suggested ways to measure.

5. Offer effectuation workshops to departmental advisory boards as a way to incent community members to serve on said boards.

It took alot of digging to determine what will really work in our environment. Now that these nuggets have been uncovered, we feel much more confident in moving forward.

Tags:  Critical Thinking  Faculty Development  Gamification  Kaskaskia College  Problem Solving 

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Lemonade at Middlesex Community College

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Monday, March 16, 2015

By: Luciano M. Sappia Asst. Professor of Business and Entrepreneurship, Middlesex Community College, MA


During a recent session of Entrepreneurship in Small Business Management course (unofficially "Venture Development") a student was particularly troubled because she could not find or articulate a strong point of differentiation for the business she was looking to establish. She was in fact finding more obstacles and draw backs in her business model than positive attributes. She had come to the course with the idea of exploiting her trades training in masonry. During the process of the "Bird-in-hand" (assessing your means) this particular student set her goals on starting her own independent masonry practice. She quickly found that there is a strong bias preventing tradeswomen from entering and securing bids for construction related jobs (electrical, plumbing, masonry, carpentry, roofing, etc..) The feedback the student received from her classroom "Quilt" (network of peers and instructor) after she first revealed her finding was to use this bias as her point of differentiation. During this first attempt to turn this "lemon" into "lemonade" the student also realized that this was not just her problem but a problem faced by many tradeswomen that also affected the consumers. Another student had also point out that many women in the consumer side are not always comfortable having strange men come inside the house when they are the only ones there making it difficult and inconvenient to schedule repairs and other jobs.  Encouraged by her classmates the student is now enjoying a "Sweet Glass of Lemonade" as she will now be focusing beyond just her own masonry practice and develop a referral network and database of tradeswomen for women.

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Crazy Quilt – Boss by Commitment

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Monday, March 16, 2015

By: Bruce McHenry, Business Faculty, South Mountain Community College, Phoenix, AZ


As one of the colleges in the Community of Practice for this year’s Entrepreneurial College in Action grant – Powered by the Coleman Foundation – we’re spending a lot of time talking, presenting, and thinking about Effectuation and the Effectual Cycle.  One of our observations: as we build the Crazy Quilt of self-selected co-creators – we are gaining “bosses by commitment”.  In our formal positions on campus, faculty, staff, administrator, etc., we have a role and a responsibility to our bosses in their role.  As faculty, I have a Division Chair, a Dean, a Vice President and a President.  All have formal authority as defined by the lines and boxes on the organization chart. 

By contrast when we meet a co-creator who hears about our Bird in Hand (means) and Affordable Loss (risk) and Goals – when that person commits and self-selects to join our Quilt – we have made them a boss by commitment.  They have no formal authority, but by committing we now have an obligation to them and they have obligation to us.  With a new co-creator our quilt has gained new means and possibly a different risk of loss.  We must evaluate that.  With new means we may have new goals.  Those new goals may mean a loss of autonomy as I’m now moving jointly (I was desperately trying for some pun here about knitting the quilt but fail!) with that new boss, whose commitment makes them one of the Pilots-in-the-Plane. Sounds a touch scary, but in reality very fun!  We’re getting to engage with all sorts of committed folks who are opening up new opportunities for our students and community entrepreneurs.  More good news to come!

Tags:  Coleman Foundation  effectuation  entrepreneurial mindset  entrepreneurship  NACCE  south mountian community college 

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Identifying additional resources

Posted By Lynn Anderson, Wednesday, March 04, 2015

The Northeast State Entrepreneurship Grant Committee has identified several resources that can be tapped in developing our Center for Entrepreneurship that encompass the campus community, the business community and potential users/participants.  The anticipated construction of our Emerging Technologies Complex (scheduled to be completed in 2017) will provide a central location for offering workshops, classes, discussion groups, and brain-storming sessions.  The Committee has identified several local groups, organizations and businesses that are either currently offering or looking to offer entrepreneurial support services.  These groups are a part of both our "Bird in Hand" and our "Crazy Quilt".  Northeast State has a very active Foundation and group of advisory committees.  The Committee has scheduled a planning session for 3/4/15 to report on marketing/advertising ideas, workshop presenters and results of conversations with other entrepreneurial groups in the area.

We have two limiting factors (maybe our "Lemonade"???):  the lack of space for our center and the construction of the new Emerging Technologies Complex.  The Center for Entrepreneurship will share space with the Center for Teaching Excellence for the present.  The new complex will house the Center for Entrepreneurship upon completion.  Currently, the impending construction it is a focus for the campus and the Northeast State extended community.  Coordinating with those involved in fundraising for the new building is important to maintain and build lasting relationships for the college. 

We are also engaging other entrepreneurial providers and groups in our five county area to raise awareness and identify partners and participants for our programs. 

 We hope to have more good news to share next month!!

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Spotlight on #PHXstartupweek

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Monday, March 02, 2015

By: Jeff Saville, Gateway CEI, Phoenix AZ

Email contact: 


The end of February saw the spotlight shine bright on the greater Phoenix area and its burgeoning entrepreneurial scene. Phoenix Startup Week, powered by Chase, was a celebration of local startups, their supporters, and our cities. From Scottsdale to Tempe to downtown Phoenix, the week was filled with presentations from some of the best entrepreneurial talent in the community.


The Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation was one of the stops during the week as CEI showcased a growing subculture within the ecosystem: medical device startups. In partnership with MedicoVentures and Phoenix Analysis Design & Technologies (PADT), the afternoon featured Bret Larsen of eVisit, Kent Dicks of Alere Connect, and Matthew Likens of Ultera, Inc., offering their perspectives on the growth and commercialization process for med tech companies. The event culminated with tours of PADT “Startup Labs” at CEI, which features 3D printing and design opportunities for entrepreneurs throughout Phoenix – with a particular focus on medical devices. (For more info, read AZ Tech Beat’s recap:


Overall, every startup ecosystem needs defining moments such as these to gain additional support from the general community – particularly the "uninitiated" outsiders – and to generate local and national exposure for its entrepreneurial initiatives. For at least one week, greater Phoenix incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces, support organizations, corporate partners, and of course entrepreneurs consciously abstained from “operation in isolation” and joined forces to share their stories and learn about one another’s efforts. And we certainly consider Phoenix Startup Week a huge success as a result.


To reference Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton’s tweet on the week: “Nearly [2000] registered, [we are] ready to energize our entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Here’s to doing it all over again next year!

Tags:  community college  economic development  effectuation  entrepreneurial mindset  entrepreneurship  Gateway CEI  Maricopa Corporate College  NACCE 

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Entrepreneurial Effecutation at the "Sub-unit" Level

Posted By Steve Tincher Ph.D., Monday, March 02, 2015
Updated: Monday, March 02, 2015

The Faculty Entrepreneurship Summit Planning Committee is threading a pragmatic application of Entrepreneurial Effectuation throughout the Summit content (launching and marketing Entrepreneurship certificates). It is interesting to note, that the Effectuation process is also evident in the Planning Committee work (see chart below). I had not considered application at this specific “subunit” level. Too micro for the application (?) - doesn't appear "to be"! 

Entrepreneurial Effectuation

Planning for Faculty Entrepreneurial Summit

Bird In Hand

Coleman Grant, Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech Bloomington, Ivy Tech Bloomington hosting the event, 14 ENTR faculty members, Commission for Higher Ed. and Dept. of Ed. approval of the Certificates

Affordable Loss

Opportunity cost of human capital invested in the planning

Crazy Quilt

Coleman Foundation, Local entrepreneurs linkages with the College program, marketing department, NACCE, 14 regions


Change in initial plan for keynote, new keynote emphasis will focus on direct application of Effectuation for specifically launching the new certificates, familiarly/experience of the keynote with community college context


Control of the Summit focus and outcome toward launching/marketing the program/certificates, agenda

Tags:  Sub-unit Effectuation 

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Let's Talk Effectuation with Sara Whiffen

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Thursday, February 26, 2015

The numbers behind Effectuation- How do we show progress in the Entrepreneurial College?

By: Sara Whiffen, Insights Ignited



Consider evaluating your effectual activities in three primary buckets:

    1. Actions  -- Things I did
    2. Activities – How others got involved
    3. Impact – What the outcomes were

Use Qualitative Tracking:

Marketing as a discipline has faced similar challenges (Brand awareness, Customer loyalty, Customer Relationships).


What can we learn from them? 

1.     Process:  Define; Measure; Report; Refine

2.     What’s the effectual equivalent of Customer Relationships, Stakeholders, Presales?·      


Are there other ideas?  Try tracking mindset change


Try framing Qualitative Measurement using the 5 Principles of Effectuation:

1.     Bird in Hand- Did you discover / use any previously slack assets?  Identify things borrowed / recycled rather than purchased.

2.     Affordable Loss- How did you manage to a minimal investment until you saw the idea take root? 

3.     Crazy Quilt- What actions have you taken to nurture co-creative relationships? What ways did you foster for people to create connections? How was a diverse population exposed to your process, so as to increase resources and co-creation opportunities?  What did your stakeholders bring to the project?  Have you made any new relationships?  Engaged any new stakeholders?  Who and what do they bring to the project? 

4.     Lemonade- What did you put in place to remain flexible and take advantage of opportunities as they arise? Did you make any changes to the plan based on new information / partners / resources? 

5.     Pilot in Plane-  What positive externalities did you receive from this worldview? Are people on your team thinking effectually?  Do they feel more confident /optimistic / more in control?   


Let’s not forget the Quantitative tracking:

1.     Bird in Hand-  How were costs reduced by using existing resources? 

2.     Affordable Loss-  Manage to a “spending” or “investment” budget of no more than…$x. 

3.     Crazy Quilt-   Stakeholders – how many are participating?  Are any of these new to your group?  Note:  This is not about getting the most.  But about growing awareness of the co-creation principle through consideration.  How many stakeholders invested more this time than previously? How many stakeholders brought new voices to the table? Percentage increase in number of stakeholders. Number of new areas entered with partners.  Number of students engaged.  Number of community members engaged.

4.     Lemonade-  Dollars saved due to unanticipated acts.  Positive outcomes due to unanticipated acts

5.     Pilot in Plane-  Percentage of time you / your team spend “effectuating”.  Percentage decrease in costs to experiment. Percentage of new ideas tried.  Number of failures (If you’re not failing, you’re not trying – and you’re not learning). Percentage of people impacted / reached by the new idea (remember to define “impacted” at beginning of project). Use these to set a baseline and then look for changes over time.  


We Measure and Track- But then what? 

1.     Publicize·      

  • Integrate with existing reporting.  
  • Create a separate effectual dashboard or highlights report.
  • Tell your stories.

2.     Recognize

  • See successes – reward them
  • Acknowledge failures – learn from them

3.     Reorganize

  • Resistance?  Bring the discussion to what you’re really trying to accomplish and allow the input to shape future iterations.    


Tags:  Coleman Foundation  community college  effectuation  entrepreneurial mindset  entrepreneurship  insights ignited  NACCE 

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Eastern WV Community & Technical College Gets the Whole Community Speaking Effectuation

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Monday, February 23, 2015

Opportunities for Business Startups Available in Wardensville by Jean Flanagan

Reprint Courtesy of the Moorefield Examiner Newspaper, Moorefield WV February 4, 2015

As community colleges and NACCE members we talk about Effectuation (the Entrepreneurial Method) frequently, but Entrepreneur in Residence Joe Kapp & Eastern WV CTC President Chuck Terrell are taking it to the streets of their community and making it part of the local vocabulary on entrepreneurship and small business. Check out this great front page article from their local newspaper. This is definitely "Entrepreneurship in Action". 

For more information contact Joe Kapp at

 Attached Files:

Tags:  Coleman Foundation  community college  Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical Coll  economic development  effectuation  entrepreneurial mindset  entrepreneurship  NACCE 

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