Start-Up Week at the College of Information Sciences and TechnologyIn 1964, a television show debuted called That Was the Week That Was. The show was a topical political satire that poked fun at the events of the week. I was reminded of this TV show when contemplating the end of Start-up Week, not to poke fun at our week, but rather to praise the efforts of everyone in our IST community in creating a truly amazing week of education, celebration, and fellowship. The week passed in a bit of a blur due to the incredible number of activities, visitors, and events. I think it’s worth recounting what the IST team accomplished last during this impressive event.

A quick look at the week in review reveals that the crack team of IST faculty, staff, students, and alums were involved in planning and successfully executing the following activities and events:

  • Open House: On April 5, we hosted high school juniors and their parents who wanted to learn more about the College of IST and the turnout was outstanding! More than 200 people filled our Cybertorium and café for this event!
  • Hackathon:In collaboration with Innoblue and student organizations, we hosted a 36-hour Hackathon, which generated a buzz of excitement around the IST building as student teams worked non-stop on brainstorming and developing tech prototypes that they then presented to a panel of judges.
  • Start-up Week 2014: Fully planned and executed by our IST community, this year’s Start-up Week, held April 7-11, was the best yet! We coordinated nearly 50 speakers, town hall meetings, pitch competitions, classroom sessions, social sessions, and individual meetings. Each speaker was provided with an individual schedule, student representatives to assist them, and access to a speaker’s lounge. The event featured a veritable “Who’s Who” of very high-level executives such as Dan Mead (’75g) of Verizon Wireless; Rod Murchison (’91 engineering) of Tripwire; and Bob Morgan (’89 electrical engineering) of MorganFranklin. In addition, numerous start-up “rock stars” such as Chris Fanini (IST ’12), David Rusenko (IST ’07), and Dan Veltri (’07 finance) all of Weebly; Steve Huffman of Reddit and Hipmunk; Matt Miller (’01 computer science) of CyberCoders and CareerBliss; Zac Pappis (’10) of DuckDuckGo; Keith Deaven (’90 labor and industrial relations) and Heather Gay of MediaBarn; Daehee Park (IST ’09) and JT Marino (’10, computer science) of Tuft & Needle; and many others were present. We had a sizable turnout for all the Start-up Week events, and even more people connected with us through the live-streamed (and recorded) speaker sessions and through social media.
  • For the Future Celebration: We held a special dinner on Friday evening, April 11, to celebrate our success in raising over $33 million in gifts as our part of the Penn State “For the Future”campaign. This amount exceeded our assigned goal by 190%, including an $11.3 million gift from Tripwire!
  • IST Alumni Society Blue White Tailgate: The IST Alumni society hosted a festive tailgate before the Blue White football game on April 12. As part of the celebration, they held a silent auction, raising funds for the Alumni Society.
  • Alumni Meeting: The weekend finished with an IST alumni officers meeting on Sunday, April 13.

Our Start-up Week activities “lit up” the social media universe – our Twitter efforts reached over 407,000 accounts and produced an exposure of 4 million impressions! There were 1,582 tweets sent out to the Twitterverse using our hashtag #ISTstartup, with 238 individual contributors. Over the course of the week we gained 64 new Twitter followers, 15 new Facebook fans, and six new Instagram followers. Our Klout score on Twitter ascended from 55 to 59 – a very impressive increase in only one week!

On a personal level, I received numerous compliments from our speakers and guests regarding how they were treated, the excitement of the students, and our overall running of the Start-up Week enterprise. In events during the weekend celebrating the “For the Future” campaign, I received praise for Start-up Week from two Penn State Board of Trustee members, multiple donors (including some from other colleges), and several of my fellow deans at Penn State.

I know this took an “all-hands” effort with many hours of dedication, preparation, and improvisation to handle rapidly changing events.  Nonetheless, the IST team made it look effortless.  I am incredibly proud of each and every one of you for your participation and help!

This was certainly a week to end all weeks – That Was the Week That Was!


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