With Iowa State’s Start Something Network, we believe that everyone has a spark of innovation within them – the potential to create something great and make a difference in their world. That’s why we constantly strive to provide the education and opportunities needed to see that potential grow through practice, experimentation, and collaboration.

Innovation and entrepreneurship (I+E) is embedded into the college’s coursework, research, facilities, and student resources to ensure all students have the access, support, and empowerment to become innovators and entrepreneurs. The College of Design offers a variety of I+E events and activities for students to Start Something.


Start Something Student Opportunities

  • Student presenting homelessness project

    Interdisciplinary studios

    The College of Design’s Design Studies 546 studios, known as interdisciplinary studios, are offered every spring for students in their junior year and above. These studios have a long-standing tradition of innovation in the college, as they invite students from every discipline of the college to explore complex problems together.

    Interdisciplinary studios
  • Students working on project for Dean's Charrette Fall 2023 workshop


    The College of Design’s Dean’s Charrettes and Start Something workshops invite students to investigate global and local challenges and propose innovative solutions that draw on the perspectives of many disciplines.

  • Creative Recess Leila Ammar and Students

    Creative Recess

    Creative recess is an innovation ideas incubator led by instructors from the College of Design and across the Iowa State campus who are teaching courses linked to innovation or entrepreneurship. The courses bring together students with different majors and backgrounds to work individually or in groups on topics that interest them.

    Read about the Creative Recess course
  • Start Something Fellow Aleka Hickman with swine nasal swab

    Start Something Fellows

    Students can explore innovative and entrepreneurial opportunities as Start Something Fellows in the College of Design. The college’s entrepreneurial student fellows experience first hand how design and business intersect, engage, and elevate one another through a design consultancy class. Student innovation fellows provide leadership in dreaming their own (and the college’s) future.

    Read about a Start Something Fellow’s Impact
  • Laura Branch receiving the Pitch Competition award

    CYstarters & Pitch Competitions

    College of Design students can apply for CYstarters, an 11-week summer accelerator for Iowa State students or recent graduates to focus on their startup or business idea. They can also participate in pitch competitions, powered by the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship.

    Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Interdisciplinary studios IGNITE reception 2022

    Student Exhibits

    College of Design students share their work accomplished in I+E-engaged courses in the annual IGNITE Innovation Showcase at the Student Innovation Center. Their work is also featured in the “Ecologies of Care” exhibition organized by the college’s faculty I+E Scholars.

    Student Innovation Center
  • Core design program presentation

    Core Design Program

    Students are empowered to become future social innovators with the potential to improve human existence through design. First-year students in the Core Design Program are introduced to Core + Care, where they explore the idea of care – for oneself, the individual to the group, the group to the individual, and the group to the greater community.

    Core Design Program
  • Interdisciplinary Secondary Major Poster

    Secondary Major in Interdisciplinary Design

    No matter your major at Iowa State, you can add Interdisciplinary Design as a secondary major to develop your inventiveness, visual communication skills, and ideation mindset. The academic program focuses on creative innovation, strategic design thinking, and interdisciplinary teamwork.

    Interdisciplinary Design Secondary Major
About/Facilities page Feature - SICTR Atrium Artwork

Student Innovation Center

The Student Innovation Center is the nexus on Iowa State’s campus where all Cyclones are invited to innovate. All students can utilize makerspaces and attend events, and the College of Design offers a number of classes and opportunities throughout the building.


Innovate at Iowa State

At Iowa State, innovation isn’t just a concept; it’s a mission. The university is actively fostering an environment where innovation thrives and is accessible to all. The Innovate at Iowa State campaign, include multiple pathways to engage with innovation.

Faculty and staff opportunities in the College of Design

  • Beauty Investigated Symposium


    Multidisciplinary symposiums led by the I+E scholars and fellows, student engagement in these events allow student voices to lead the way for the college.

  • Faculty and Staff I+E Cohort

    Faculty and Staff I+E Cohort

    The college’s faculty and staff are directly engaging with innovation and entrepreneurship as they help students, their peers, the college, the university, and Iowa as a whole grow. As Innovation Scholars and Fellows, design faculty and staff guide students through a diverse range of interests in their areas of research and scholarship, including participation in Start Something programs and offerings.

    The 2022-2024 cohort members are:

    Scholars: Patrick Finley, Jiwnath Ghimire, Raluca Iancu, and Daejin Kim

    Fellows: Diane Al Shihabi, Leila Ammar, Roman Chikerinets, Jen Hogan, Ingrid Lilligren, Dan Neubauer, Tina Rice, and Julie Stevens

Students working at the Student Innovation Center.

Support our initiatives

There are two ways to contribute a gift to the college’s I+E efforts.

The first option is to mail a check with a note that specifies the designation: College of Design Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fund. Mail to Iowa State University Foundation, 2505 University Blvd., P.O. Box 2230, Ames, IA 50010-2230.

The second option is to make a giftonline. For “Selected Designation,” select “I want to support a fund not listed” and type “College of Design Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fund” in the notes section.

Students working on class project in the King Pavillion.

A Cyclone in the Making

Find your place at Iowa State University’s College of Design, where we like to ask questions, poke and prod, create something new, and make a difference through design.