Jim Pope Fellows Spark Entrepreneurial Confidence in the Classroom

In 2020, the James G. and Dee H. Pope Faculty Fellows Endowment Fund was established to provide for five Jim Pope Fellows per year to serve as instructors, mentors, and advisors to students participating in CREATE-X, the Georgia Institute of Technology's entrepreneurial learning incubator.

With the generous gift from Jim Pope, retired president and CEO of Hazlehurst & Associates, Inc. an actuarial and consulting firm, CREATE-X has been able to further its mission as an exemplary program for experiential learning that contributes to whole-person education through entrepreneurial confidence. Through the endowed teaching program, faculty members are inspired to build strong bridges between their academic units and CREATE-X, sparking entrepreneurial confidence in the classroom while developing their own as educators.

To date, nine faculty members have received the James G. Pope Faculty Fellowship, including Kelly Griendling, a Lecturer in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering (AE), who was a part of the first cohort of Jim Pope Fellows.

During the three-semester program, Griendling implemented entrepreneurially minded assignments and activities into the five courses she teaches in the School. The assignments and activities have also been adopted by other AE instructors. By combining efforts with other existing programs, at least 25% of all AE courses now have an entrepreneurial element.

"It's critical for students to develop an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset as they enter the workforce," said Pope. "Companies today are looking for folks that can bring creative problem solving to the table and CREATE-X is the type of program that can make that possible.”

Olufisayo Omojokun who serves as the Director of the Division of Computing (DCI) in the College of Computing (CoC), was also a recipient of the James G. Pope Faculty Fellowship in 2020. The DCI is home to the CoC lecturer-track faculty and each semester the DCI teaches thousands of students across the Institute. Omojokun has been able to give these faculty the opportunity to use entrepreneurial activities for career advancement.

“Faculty can also benefit from an entrepreneurship program to potentially commercialize their research endeavors,” said Pope.

In addition, Omojokun consistently impacts more than 400 students each year with a CREATE-X module in CS1331.  Nian Liu, a recent Pope Fellow and Associate Professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering not only fostered students in his class to take a project through Startup Launch in 2022, but also participated in Venture Lab’s Launch program in conjunction with CREATE-X for commercializing his technology.

Lauren K. Stewart, Williams Family Associate Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), received the James G. Pope Faculty Fellowship in 2021. As part of the program, she has secured more than $1M in funding and space for new makerspaces that will promote creativity and entrepreneurship for CEE students, faculty, and staff. Stewart has also been instrumental in the creation of three innovation and entrepreneurship courses for CEE students. Students enrolled in these courses will be able to utilize the new spaces beginning in the fall of 2023.

“The Jim Pope Fellows Program provides an excellent demonstration of how the Georgia Tech faculty care deeply about developing entrepreneurial confidence among our student body,” said Joyelle Harris, Director of Engineering for Social Innovation Center, and former Associate Director of LEARN for CREATE-X. “The Fellows are a resourceful and creative group. They continually show us how to leverage small resources to make a great impact.”

Jim Pope Faculty Fellow appointments last one year and include discretionary funding to be spent on resources to support entrepreneurial courses and research. Applications are currently open for six fellows in the 2022-23 academic year plus an additional fellow through a donation by Alumni, Leslie Siebert. 

CREATE-X is a Georgia Tech program designed to inspire and cultivate entrepreneurship in students. Participants learn about startup concepts, terminology, and methodology. With the assistance of instructors and mentors, they create prototypes and intellectual property, eventually launching startups. CREATE-X is open to any Georgia Tech student, regardless of degree program.

Pope continues to see CREATE-X as the type of program that helps differentiate Georgia Tech from other universities. “Many colleges have similar goals and strategic plans,” he said. CREATE-X “is a competitive advantage that will benefit Tech, Georgia, and the nation.”

We are now accepting applications for the 2023 cohort. Apply now at  Pope Fellows Application Link. The application deadline is Friday, September 2, 2022.  For more information contact Rahul Saxena.