We here at the DEN are all about giving back to the students of Clemson and our local community. We participate in several local outreach events each semester with the goal of sharing our knowledge of design thinking, entrepreneurship, and the business mindset. Our audience varies widely, from the business elite to elementary students and everyone in between.

One of the first events we attended this year was the Engineering Expo, hosted right here in the Hendrix Center. This day is all about promoting engineering disciplines and ideals to the next generation, in this case a group of about 250 second graders from the surrounding area. We hosted an activity that introduced the children to ideas such as designing with a customer in mind, building a product as a team, and how to iterate upon each others ideas. The expo was a blast, and is held each year by Clemson’s Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society.

This year we once again participated in Greenville’s iMAGINE Upstate Festival, a day long festival for companies, schools, and groups to promote STEM, entrepreneurial and innovative activity happening right here in South Carolina. The DEN hosted a booth where we demonstrated prototyping and rapid iteration methods to parents and their children. We saw of ton of great ideas from local elementary and middle schoolers, and were excited to hear many of them planned on attending Clemson when they grow up! The festival was a huge success and a ton of fun. Check it out at imagineupstate.org.

This year the DEN was invited to be a key activity host for TEDx Greenville, with the theme of Impact. Our goal was to show how one person might have a significant effect through entrepreneurship and innovation. Our activity had participants empathize, build, and refine. The empathize portion had people sharing the problems their loved ones face in everyday life, but that they believed they had no power to solve – or so they thought. The next portion utilized design thinking to allow a third participant to build a solution to a stranger’s major problem. The final section had the original problem-presenter test the solution and iterative upon the existing piece to come up with a workable solution. Overall the experience was incredible for both our team and those who visited our booth, and hope to continue this partnership in the future. Check out the Greenville TEDx crew at tedxgreenville.com.


DEN Weekly Meeting Format

The Design and Entrepreneurship Network meets at 5:30 on Mondays for 13 weeks each semester. These meetings are 2 hour open sessions for anyone interested in design, creativity, teamwork or business-building to learn about our weekly topic and hear from an expert. The format of each meeting is loosely as follows:

  • Learn: The first 30 minutes of each meeting we take part in a short (~5 min) activity designed to get everyone moving about the room, meet new people, and serve as a tangential introduction to the topic of the night. After this we hear from our DEN Expert: a proven entrepreneur, CEO or leader in their field. We like to think of this as an informal lesson where students are encouraged to ask questions and pose hypotheticals to our guest speaker.
  • Build: The next hour is a time for teams to develop their projects, ventures and services. We suggest keeping the development in line with the nightly topic as a way to promote cross group discussion on common problems, and allow for groups to question the speaker about their project. This is the time where ideas are pitched rapid fire, sticky notes fill the walls, and prototypes go through iteration.
  • Share: The final 30 minutes are a chance for teams to give updates on their progress and get feedback on the direction they’re taking. We like to have 1-2 teams give a short pitch and answer a couple audience questions about their venture. Feedback and testing ideas are two of the key components of DEN, and we love using them to refine our ideas!

That’s a quick overview of our meetings, but we encourage you to come check us out any week in Watt 208, Mondays at 5:30! If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or contact the DEN at theden@clemson.edu.

A Bit of History

Storytellers have argued for ages about how and where to begin a tale, but thankfully I’m not a writer so I’ll just start at the beginning. The Design and Entrepreneurship Network began as a student-led initiative by the famous (now Dr.) Bre Przestrzelski and the ever-cheerful Dr. John DesJardins. The DEN’s inception can be attributed in part to Bre’s time in the University Innovation Fellows program; a network of students seeking to enact change on campus that will benefit others in meaningful ways.

Through a landscape canvas of Clemson’s offerings, Bre identified a lack of entrepreneurial spirit and hands-on-making opportunities in the undergraduate curriculum, and took it upon herself to fill that gap in the beginning of 2014. Dr. D supports students in every effort and agreed to be the faculty mentor for the newly fledged DEN. Since then many students have joined the leadership team to help DEN reach new heights, and have helped broaden 100’s of students horizons. 

The DEN gives students the knowledge and confidence to build products, services, companies and themselves through interdisciplinary collaboration. We discuss topics such as customer discovery, market analysis, prototyping, and pitching. Stick around and I’ll share some events, lessons and knowledge I’ve gained along the way. 

I have an idea!

Hey there!

Hey there, and welcome to the Design and Entrepreneurship Network’s blog! I’m Collin Braeuning; a Computer Engineering student, occasional rock-climber, University Innovation Fellow, and guy who talks at you during the weekly DEN meetings. Over the next several weeks I’ll be giving you a look into what the DEN is and what we provide to students just like you. This will include sections showcasing some of our weekly topics, past expert speakers, and some of the events where we have represented Clemson’s entrepreneurial spirit.


In the meantime check us out at thedenwebsite.com!