Name: Jessica Austriaco
College/Major: Bioengineering & ILEE
TEC Programs: SocialFuse, BOLD
What is your connection with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign?
I’m a sophomore pursuing a dual degree in Bioengineering and Innovation, Leadership and Engineering Entrepreneurship (ILEE).
Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
TE 333: Creativity, Innovation and Vision was recommended to me as a really good class by a couple of upper classmen that I know which lead to me be interested. Also, Bold is a group for women in entrepreneurship and leadership that just started this year that I am the president. I thought I would have so much fun taking these classes and I also wanted something to add to my engineering experience.
How would you describe your U of I experience in 3 words?
Diverse, Opportunity, and Challenge. Diverse because that was the biggest reason I chose U of I. It’s so diverse here. There are also a lot of opportunities here. If you want to be involved in something, you can just go and do it. There’s always new things popping up everywhere and new things to start if you want to start something because we definitely have the resources. It’s also a challenge because the work is really challenging and all the life challenges are helping me grow.
What’s one thing that you love about this Campus?
I love the opportunities. I’m always online trying to find new things to be involved with. You can walk on the quad and there’s always something different every day.
What was your favorite TE Course you’ve taken? Why?
Some of my friends were telling me about some of the brain teasers they used in TE 333 and I was like I would love to take a class where they told you brain teasers. I’m having a lot of fun in the class right now. It’s so different. It’s listed as an engineering class, but we learn how to be more creative, which is something that is never touched on in most engineering classes.
What TE Course did you find the most beneficial? Why?
TE 360: Lectures in Engineering Entrepreneurship is very beneficial in terms of networking. You get to meet a lot entrepreneurs that come into class or people that are really involved in entrepreneurship around the school.
How would you summarize your experiences?
I think TEC programs in general are really well advertised, so you get different types of people and also a large amount that come. I love meeting people from different majors, backgrounds, and interests but everyone’s interested in starting something or pursuing a project that they’re passionate about. So you get a mix of creative people and that what makes it really cool.
Is there anything that surprised you?
I was surprised to learn that entrepreneurship was such a buzzing community here. I knew that there were a lot of start-ups that came out of U of I, but I didn’t realize that it was this big community and TEC sort of brings everyone together. It was really cool to explore and find out about.
How has participating changed your views on entrepreneurship?
Working hard to promote BOLD and also working with people in BOLD has made me more passionate about getting more women involved in entrepreneurship, and also just excited about the whole field in general. I didn’t grow up thinking “I’m going to start a company one day,” but now I’m like maybe I will because there are a lot of resources here and in TE:360 we’ve been learning about the process of start-ups.
What do you hope to accomplish in terms of entrepreneurship?
I always have new ideas, but even if I don’t end up starting a company, I’ll definitely be interested in different projects or innovating within where I work. I started a leadership council in the C.A.R.E. Tutoring Space in Grainger Library because I was like this is a cool program but nobody’s doing anything to make it better, so I started a little group with my boss. Entrepreneurially, maybe I won’t start a company, but I’ll definitely keep innovating. I’ll continue to do those little kinds of things like that.
Were you always interested in entrepreneurship?
I’m always interested in new things. Innovation is a really broad word and it’s a buzz word around the university. When you really think about it, people that innovate are people who want to start new things or want to make thing better and that’s something I’ve always been interested in.
Do you think you’ve changed your way of thinking?
I always wanted to be involved in new tings and improve things, but I never had the resources or the word to describe what that was. Now that I’m involved with TEC, it’s easier for me to look at things and think “how can I make this better?” or “where do I want to start?” It has really change my perspective in terms of what I’m involved in and what I want to do on campus.