Student Ambassador Elliot Roth's pumpkin-explosion business planted a seed for founding a new engineering and design club at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Elliot Roth
Virginia Commonwealth University
President, The Society for Engineering and Entrepreneurial Design (SEED)
Class of 2015
Biomedical and Chemical Engineering

I’m a Michael Bay-type of person. I’ve always liked explosions. It’s the creation that comes out of disruption that has always intrigued me. In the fall of 2008, I started a business the week after Halloween that collected old pumpkins for “disposal.” I charged a couple bucks per pumpkin then packed them full of fireworks and put on a show in my backyard for my friends. Packing each pumpkin full of explosives, I lit the fuse and backpedaled furiously. Each pumpkin rocketed sky-high and crashed back down to Earth in a fiery rain of orange chunks. Of course my parents put an end to it immediately, but around harvest time the following year, we discovered a huge pumpkin patch growing on the scorch marks of my firework fiasco.

That kind of disruptiveness lends itself greatly to entrepreneurship. I came into Virginia Commonwealth University as an eager freshman; wide-eyed and innocent, believing that I could start building any crazy idea that popped into my head. I was going to change the world. The only problem was that VCU seemed to only offer those opportunities to a very select group of individuals; mostly senior design teams. Each team normally only had a year to develop a project to completion, were given a problem instead of coming up with their own, had to take a design class, and were comprised of only one major. There was room at VCU for a disruptive student organization to step in and start an idea explosion.

The Society for Engineering and Entrepreneurial Design (SEED) was founded with the aim to shake up the entrepreneurial system at VCU. SEED networks driven students of any major to develop insane ideas that can lead to amazing start-up businesses. Members of SEED work on these projects starting very early on in undergrad; fulfilling graduation requirements while learning and creating outside a normal classroom environment. SEED helps students apply for grants, find lab space, connect to mentors, and apply for patents. The organization also has weekly meetings with prominent speakers and exciting, fast-paced innovation challenges around campus. SEED is a completely self-motivated club and works with these project teams to build prototypes to bring their dreams to life. The final vision of SEED is to have these companies stay in Richmond and give back to the community.

SEED is a new organization at VCU and it is already causing a splash with its myriad of projects and programs. I am very excited to be at the helm of this creative explosion. I can’t wait to see what wonderful things will grow when these entrepreneurial seeds begin to land.

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