A second post in my brief “what the new year brings” series (part one here):
I am the Faculty Director of Pitt Law’s “Innovation Practice Institute.” Over the Summer we recruited a new and fabulous Executive Director, Stephanie Dangel. The IPI is sort of an academic center, except that we don’t do much via conventional academic programming (events, scholarly or practice-oriented), and we don’t run a law clinic. (Also, of course, we do not call ourselves a “center.” The naming choice has to do with university regulations.) The IPI’s main work is to build a pipeline of experiential learning opportunities for students interested in innovation, entrepreneurship, and IP. We partner with other units at the University of Pittsburgh (including but not limited to the tech transfer team), with units at Carnegie Mellon University down the street (primarily the wonderful Project Olympus), and with lawyers, entrepreneurs, not-for-profits, and other enterprises around Pittsburgh, to embed our students with teams of early-stage innovators and other professional advisors. Most of this is on the extracurricular side. We also support courses in the law school that have an experiential dimension, mostly taught by adjunct professors, so that students can contextualize their efforts in the field. The payoffs, we hope, will be the construction of an expanded corps of lawyers and legal professionals in the Pittsburgh region who can contribute meaningfully to Pittsburgh’s continuing project of economic reinvention. And we want to position our IPI students to succeed in the entry-level job market.
Between the recruitment of a new ED and some internal reorganization, I’ll be spending much more time on this project in the coming months than I have over the four years since the IPI’s inception. Pittsburgh (city, region, university) is an exciting place to be these days — and that was true even before the Pittsburgh Pirates began their 2013 Cinderella run and the Riverhounds occupied a new soccer-only riverside stadium. The IPI aims to be right in the thick of things.