“Enabling student ownership of making, invention, and entrepreneurship”
Creativity, invention, and innovation are values championed as central pillars of engineering education. However, university environments that foster student-driven, open-ended, design-build projects are uncommon. Over the past 13 years, Dr. Forest has been a leader in transforming the engineering student experience within and outside of Georgia Tech to be more hands-on, team-focused, open-ended, creative, inventive, and entrepreneurial through four foundational programs: Invention Studio, InVenture Prize, Capstone Design, and CREATE-X. In 2009, he spearheaded the creation of the Invention Studio, a free-to-use, 4500 ft2 maker space and culture where thousands of students per month create things, meet, and mentor each other. The InVenture Prize @ Georgia Tech is a K-12 and collegiate invention competition. Called “American Idol for Nerds” by National Public Radio (NPR), every year many thousands of K-12 and undergraduate students from dozens of schools and universities compete for $50k+ in prizes and free patents in front of tens of hundreds of thousands of viewers on a live broadcast in 10 states on PBS affiliate networks. A Capstone Design course with hundreds hands-on projects per semester, extramural funding from industry sponsors, and a 5000 person Expo celebration is launching a sustainable, entrepreneurial movement in the engineering curriculum. Dr. Forest is also associate director of CREATE-X, a flagship entrepreneurship program at Georgia Tech. CREATE-X’s success is staggering: over the past six years CREATE-X has directly impacted 6000 students and fostered the founding of 300 student-led companies valued at over $1B. These programs, infrastructure, and cultural transformation are demonstrating the value and sustainability of a student-owned, hands-on, design-build education to stimulate innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship in engineering undergraduates.
Craig Forest is a Professor and Woodruff Faculty Fellow in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech where he also holds program faculty positions in Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering. He conducts research on miniaturized, high-throughput robotic instrumentation to advance neuroscience and genetic science. Prior to Georgia Tech, he was a research fellow in Genetics at Harvard Medical School. He obtained a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT in June 2007, M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT in 2003, and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2001. He is cofounder/organizer of one of the largest undergraduate invention competitions in the US—The InVenture Prize, and founder/organizer of one of the largest student-run makerspaces in the US—The Invention Studio. He was a Fellow in residence at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle WA; He was named Engineer of the Year in Education for the state of Georgia and was a finalist on the ABC reality TV show "American Inventor.”