The Mark and Debra Leslie Entrepreneurs Lab celebrated its first anniversary last week. As NYU’s startup incubator, the eLab provides space and resources for NYU students looking to get their entrepreneurial ideas off the ground. In an economy increasingly defined by apps and programs, the existence of the eLab signifies that the university is willing to engage students outside the classroom and foster their innovative spirits. The administration is to be commended for offering the space, as the eLab is that rare kind of space that simultaneously helps students develop professional skills while simultaneously encouraging
One of the most important functions of the eLab is providing a space for students with big ideas to connect and meet. No matter what each student may bring to the table, it is important to have a common space where ideas can be pitched, different talents can find each other and work together and outside perspectives can be found. The Zuckerbergian stereotype of starting a million-dollar company alone in your college dorm is out, and creating the Next Big Thing in collaborative spaces like the eLab is in. Alongside the technological capital that the eLab provides — everything from soldering irons to Raspberry Pis — the space provides students the opportunity to build social connections in a way that is hard to replicate anywhere else.
Perhaps most importantly, the eLab’s success is shared among various student groups which make use of the space. This is evidenced by the fact that fewer than half of the 275 events held at the eLab during its first year were organized by the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute. Two brains are often better than one, so it is no surprise that the eLab’s success revolves around the opportunities it provides for real-life social networking. Having a dedicated space for technology-minded groups to meet has boosted the membership of many of NYU’s student groups, and this will surely be the eLab’s enduring success — creating community and encouraging personal growth.
It is imperative NYU does not stop here, and thankfully, it doesn’t look like it will. The LaGuardia Studio, which is slated to open Oct. 1, will give students access to new technologies such as 3D printers and digital pigment printmaking. Additionally, the administration should publicize more events at the Polytechnic School of Engineering, ensuring that technologically minded students are moving between Manhattan and Brooklyn, meeting as large and varied a group as they can and listening to as many ideas as possible. The world of technology has a lot to offer the students of NYU, and it is services like the Leslie eLab that will ensure that we can all take part in it.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, September 14th print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at [email protected]s.com.