Tufts students attend first-ever Tufts Scramble event

Sixty Tufts undergraduates gathered this past weekend for this year’s inaugural Tufts Scramble, a two-day on-campus innovation training and brainstorm session, at 51 Winthrop St.

The event, which took place Saturday and Sunday, was co-hosted by the Tufts Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies Program and the Tufts Entrepreneurs Society. It was also sponsored by Tufts Allied Minds and the Computer Science department, in collaboration with Scramble Systems, according to Inge Milde, a senior lecturer at Tufts’ Gordon Institute.

According to Stephen Douglass, the founder and managing director of Scramble Systems, the organization partners with companies, non-profits and college campuses to help them run culture-defining innovation training experiences.

“For campuses, our goal is to help innovation centers that are trying to reach across the campus, because they are usually housed in the business school,” Douglass said.

He said Scramble Systems aims to encourage innovation from students in all academic fields.

“We’re trying to build a platform that allows students from the entire university to come together across disciplinary practices, train them to be stronger and increase the incidence of successful innovators and future founders,” he explained.

Junior Alex Rappaport, the student coordinator for Tufts Scramble, said he decided to help organize the event after spending the summer working at the university’s Center for Engineering, Education and Outreach.

“This summer, I was trying to add an entrepreneurial edge to Jumbo’s Maker Studio, a place with 3-D printers, laser cutters, hard tools and all the materials you would need to build something cool,” he said. “But I wanted to find a way to get more students involved and to give people who were in the space already a way to do more.”

Rappaport then got in contact with Douglass, and they realized that they were trying to do the same thing.

Both Rappaport and Douglass explained that Tufts Scramble intended to serve as a jump-off point for innovations, projects and start-ups.

“Our goal in scrambling, from our angle, is to reinforce and have students practice great innovation and founding skills,” Douglass said. “We want to give students the tools, mindsets and relationships they need from the Tufts community in order to create a support network for them.”

According to Milde, students from a variety of academic backgrounds and experiences attended the event.

“We had [economics] majors, art history majors, and [others],” Milde said. “We were stronger on juniors and seniors for a long time, but then the numbers evened out.”

By the end of the weekend, students had collectively come up with 13 business ideas, including a smart cigarette pack that helps smokers quit and a consultancy group that allows farmers to gauge and certify the nutritional content of their products, according to Milde.

The students had started the training event by brainstorming ideas, then accessing materials from the Crafts Center and Jumbo’s Maker Studio to begin realizing the ideas they discussed, according to Rappaport.

At the end of the event, a panel of experts gave students feedback on their projects, according to Douglass.

Whether or not students walked away with a completed project was not his priority, Douglass said. Rather, those who attended the event now have a better understanding of the weaknesses of their proposed ventures, projects or ideas and can determine how to exploit or make use of those weaknesses.

“Students’ ideas [weren’t] intended to end when this event ended,” Rappaport said. “This event is the catalyst for these ideas, and alumni often come back and coach during the scrambles, so it comes full-circle.”

“For us, launching a company is not really the end goal,” Milde said. “That’s a residual result.”