LCCC reaches finals in national entrepreneurship competition

Minden Fox, LCCC marketing and business instructor, left, works with a student heat pressing a t-shirt in the Entrepreneurship Lab on the college's Cheyenne campusCHEYENNE, Wyoming – Laramie County Community College continues to garner recognition for its efforts in fostering entrepreneurship as it was a finalist in a national competition this year. 

LCCC was up for the distinguished 2023 National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) Entrepreneurial College of the Year Award presented at the annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee, on Oct. 31.

Through the last several years, LCCC has been active within NACCE, helping the college learn and grow in its mission to create an entrepreneurial culture that will support students in reaching new levels of success. In 2022, Minden Fox, LCCC marketing and business instructor, won the $50,000 top prize at the NACCE conference in Boston for her pitch to purchase ZSpace equipment and software. 

ZSpace’s augmented reality and virtual reality environments allow users at LCCC to explore complicated environments using a laptop computer. A computer’s sensors track eye movement and the virtual-holographic image can be lifted from the screen and manipulated with the accompanying handheld stylus. The ZSpace equipment is housed in the Concept Forge, a fabrication lab as part of the Advanced Manufacturing and Material Center (AMMC) designed to help entrepreneurs prototype product ideas.

Since launching the ZSpace system on campus, Fox said the college has been able to secure more funding to support additional equipment and software. The technology is now being used in multiple areas across campus, including the Wind Energy Program, the Diesel Technology Program, the STEM Program and more. 

“We’ve also found these systems are great for recruiting,” Fox said. “We take them to events and they help us bring students who may have been thinking, ‘I don’t want to go to college’ or ‘I don’t need to go to college’ and help them get excited about something innovative and fun.” 

While LCCC is implementing forward-thinking approaches to its educational programs, fostering an entrepreneurial culture on campus is about much more, Fox said. Whether it’s faculty members or students starting businesses, launching podcasts or taking art into the community in new and exciting ways, the people of LCCC are attracting positive attention to the college and region. 

“It’s important to have this culture of entrepreneurship considering where our community and country are headed,” Fox said. “We need people who are willing to think outside the box and push for more creativity; people who can understand basic problem-solving skills and see a need that can be met in an industry or market that will make life better for everyone.”

The relationship between NACCE and LCCC is yielding success for students, as the college can collaborate with its peer institutions and learn about what’s working across the nation, Fox said. Proof of the success can be seen across campus, she said, including with a record six students who will launch business ideas before the end of the Fall 2023 semester. 

“Our program is set up so that we are helping people with ideas launch quickly and intelligently,” Fox said. 

LCCC’s Concept Forge is funded through the Wyoming Innovation Partnership, or WIP. More information is available at uwyo.edu/wip. Find out more about NACCE at nacce.com. Those interested in the Entrepreneurship Program can go to lccc.wy.edu/entrepreneurship.