Carnegie Mellon University

Pillar: Crossing Intellectual Boundaries

Be Founders

As a young university, we are free from many of the silos and bureaucracy that harden over time, dimming ambitions and slowing momentum. As students, scholars, researchers and performers, we are propelled to take risks, to go wherever the most important questions take us. At every step, we are founders — founders of new inventions, endeavors and forms of expression; founders of whole new fields. We embolden the entrepreneur in all of us with the tools and the inspiration to work at the edges and intersections of established disciplines and diverse backgrounds, and to think big.

Thought-starters

  • What are some interesting multidisciplinary approaches you've taken part in or encouraged and what did they lead to?
  • How is an entrepreneurial mindset encouraged in your particular field or school?
  • What has been the most surprising outcome of the combination of different disciplines?
  • What is an example of an informal interaction that led to a formal innovation?

Examples in Action

Tepper Quad Narrative

The Grand Opening Celebration and Dedication Ceremony of the David A. Tepper Quadrangle was all business for University Advancement, Tepper Marketing and Communications and CMU Marketing and Communications. From the first save-the-date to the full two-day event, the theme of university integration was engrained in the messaging. Even the sharing of resources, assets and ideas made the event truly collaborative. These creative efforts made for a truly grand opening. And to this day, the new home of the Tepper School of Business — and its 21st century space — attracts students of all disciplines, alumni, donors, visitors, thought-leaders and faculty alike. 

Thought-Starters & Proof Point Examples

What are some interesting multidisciplinary approaches you've taken part in or encouraged and what did they lead to?

The brand new building is the largest on campus and is designed to bring all seven colleges together, reflecting the new model of higher education that connects teaching, learning and innovation.

How is an entrepreneurial mindset encouraged in your particular field or school?

More than 1,200 students participate in entrepreneurial coursework annually and more than 1,000 companies have ties to Carnegie Mellon University. The Tepper Quad will bring entrepreneurial resources from across campus by housing the new Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship. The Swartz Center will connect and incorporate efforts through a variety of initiatives, such as Project Olympus, LaunchCMU, as well related workshops, competitions and training programs.

What has been the most surprising outcome of the combination of different disciplines?

This is a brand new initiative and it will be exciting to follow along the stories that emerge with this new building and structure.

What is an example of an informal interaction that led to a formal innovation?

INTERSECT@CMU was part of the Tepper Quad grand opening. This conference was meant to bring together innovators, industry leaders, as well as CMU professors and researchers, to discuss and promote intersections of business and technology.

Learn more about the Tepper Quad

Robot + Art on the Moon Media Push

Image of robot on the moon.

Two CMU creations from the School of Computer Science (SCS) and the College of Fine Arts are going to the moon in 2021. There’s the first American rover of its kind, a four-pound robotic rover that’ll investigate things like moon rocks and soil disturbances. And, there’s an eight-ounce arts package called MoonArk. Billed as the “first museum on the moon,” its four chambers will contain hundreds of images, some poems and artifacts from earth. This time capsule could be discovered by future generations who visit the moon. SCS Media Relations is responsible for disseminating a story that marks one giant step for CMUkind.

Thought-Starters & Proof Point Examples

What are some interesting multidisciplinary approaches you've taken part in or encouraged and what did they lead to?

This initiative crosses not only the disciplines of robotics and the arts but also the collaborative efforts of team members representing design, engineering, architecture, chemistry, poetry, music composition and visuals arts, among many others.

How is an entrepreneurial mindset encouraged in your particular field or school?

CMU will be expanding its knowledge of the moon and developing lunar technology that will assist NASA in its goal of landing astronauts on the lunar surface by 2024. NASA awarded a contract to Astrobotic, Inc., and CMU independently negotiated to hitch a ride on the Peregrine lander’s first mission with its miniature, four-pound robot and eight-ounce arts package.

What has been the most surprising outcome of the combination of different disciplines?

At CMU it seems only natural that robotics and fine arts would share space together. That said, until an opportunity arose to integrate arts into a potential mission to the moon, did anyone imagine that a robot and art would enter space together?

What is an example of an informal interaction that led to a formal innovation?

To differentiate themselves among the rest, the Astrobotic/CMU team integrated arts into its Lunar XPrize entry, a competition aimed to facilitate breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. The ideation of MoonArk, like Noah’s Ark, was born and it has instigated original innovation and invention of digital fabrication techniques, ultra-high resolution imaging and many innovations in materials science, technology and the arts, engaging colleagues across disciplines and across the world in inspiring ways.

Learn more about CMU Robot + Art on the Moon

50th Anniversary Theme

To celebrate 50 years since the Carnegie Institute of Technology and the Mellon Institute came together to form Carnegie Mellon University, CMU's University Advancement division spearheaded a campaign to recognize all of the many founders and leaders that have followed this merger with their own initiatives, creations and ideas. The year-long campaign celebrated students, faculty, alumni and staff, whose ingenuity will impact daily lives in ways not yet imagined.

Thought-Starters & Proof Point Examples

What are some interesting multidisciplinary approaches you've taken part in or encouraged and what did they lead to?

The campaign told stories of founders from all departments and ages. It showcased how progressive and exceptional the school is as a whole.

How is an entrepreneurial mindset encouraged in your particular field or school?

Students and faculty are encouraged to pursue their passions. Thanks to this there are many stories to be told about the initiatives that they have started. These include alumni that have formed organizations such as 412 Food Rescue (Leah Lizarondo), faculty who introduce companies like OrganJet (Sridhar Tayur) and even students who are already pursuing their life's work. None of these would happen without the entrepreneurial mindset instilled in the colleges from the start.

What has been the most surprising outcome of the combination of different disciplines?

There are endless stories and combinations for disciplines to work together. Faculty and students are continuously finding ways to collaborate together.

What is an example of an informal interaction that led to a formal innovation?

The campaign set up many events for alumni to come together, celebrate each other's victories and network.

Learn more about For the Founders: Celebrating 50 Years at CMU