Innovating the Entrepreneurial Spirit

“I want to get my master’s in human factors engineering. I hope to work in a field dealing with consumer product design and be a full-time entrepreneur with multiple ventures,” said industrial engineering junior Luke Meyer ’23.

Meyer has big ambitions for his life after graduation from MSOE. Thanks to the Center for Innovation and Enterprise located inside the Rader School of Business, he is closer to achieving those dreams.

In 2019, the Center for Innovation and Enterprise was established thanks to funding from the Uihlein/Spitzer Endowment of Innovation and Enterprise. The $1 million endowment was gifted to MSOE in 1999 by David Uihlein Sr. and his wife Margery.

Prior to making the gift, Uihlein Sr. served on MSOE’s Board of Regents and developed a friendship and shared a passion for business and entrepreneurship with Dr. Robert Spitzer, MSOE’s third president.

“My father was a huge believer in free enterprise,” said David Uihlein Jr. “He admired Bob and his accomplishments prior to MSOE. Both came from the ‘Greatest Generation’ and I think both had a strong interest in wanting to build a better future for America.” 

The Center for Innovation and Enterprise, also referred to as the Innovent Center, offers business and engineering students like Meyer with a creative space equipped with tools designed for interdisciplinary exploration and collaboration. And for those like former MSOE student Adem Arifi, it serves as a place to develop their next business venture.

Arifi credits the center for playing a pivotal role in helping him secure a position at the start-up Binance.US, which is a digital asset marketplace. As a cryptocurrency specialist, Arifi provides his clients clarity on trade, deposit and withdrawals of cryptocurrencies within different blockchain networks.

“Working in the Innovent Center I was able to sit in an environment that encouraged me to not only create solutions for the next problem but the equipment to do so. I wouldn’t be at my current job today without it,” said Arifi.

The Innovent Center also offers workshops for students to enhance their business skills and earn seed grants to help fund their senior design or personal projects.

“These workshops were designed with a ‘shark tank concept’ but on a smaller scale,” said John Osmanski ’07, an instructor in the Rader School of Business and lead of the Innovent Center. “Not only do students need to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, they also incorporate the business skills they were taught in class.”

Last year, Meyer was able to pitch two different projects and earn funding for both. “I applied for these grants because I thought it would be an awesome opportunity to use what I learned in class. I also enjoy bringing more entrepreneurial spirit to MSOE, “said Meyer.

An entrepreneurial spirit that Uihlein Jr. says would have made his father proud.

“My father had a great respect and trust for the leadership of MSOE, their values, and the curriculum they provided and continue to create for students. If he knew how his gift was still impacting students today, I think he would have probably given another million.”