Category Archives: McMillon Innovation Studio

McMillon Innovation Studio

Free Innovation and Entrepreneurship Workshops for Students, Faculty, Staff and Alumni

The McMillon Innovation Studio at the Sam M. Walton College of Business is joining forces with the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation to bring a series of workshops and services to university students, faculty, staff and alumni during the spring 2019 semester. The workshops and services focus on building skills needed for innovation, creative problem-solving and meaningful collaboration.

Free Workshops
This semester’s events include:

  • Creative Confidence – Participants learn how to strengthen team dynamics by applying art and theater principles like improvisation that build trust and agility. This 1-hour, interactive workshop is designed to:
    • Foster an open and collaborative environment.
    • Build creative confidence.
    • Facilitate an “agile” way of working.
    • Get people outside their comfort zone.

These workshops are deployed on an as-needed basis, typically at the start of a class with group projects. Email oei@uark.edu to schedule.

  • The Heart of the Customer – Deep empathy for the end user is a meaningful starting place for new innovations and businesses. Participants learn key techniques for empathizing and interacting with their audience – clients, users, patients or customers. This workshop helps participants:
    • Create an open mindset to change and iteration.
    • Understand empathy and why it is important.
    • Practice drawing key insights from an empathy map and customer discovery interviews.

Workshops will be held Feb. 20 from 5:45-7 p.m. at the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub just off the Fayetteville square or on Feb. 26 from noon-1:30 p.m. at the McMillon Studio located in the Harmon Parking Garage on campus.

  • Prototype and Iterate – Workshop attendees learn how to create, release and test “minimum delightful experiences.” Participants will gain experience rapid prototyping in a safe environment. By the end of this hands-on workshop, participants will:
    • Understand the importance of failure.
    • Know how to use feedback loops to inform iterations.
    • Practice prototyping in the McMillon Studio makerspace (3D printing, digital tools, sewing, drawing, etc.).

Workshops will be held March 6 from 5-6:30 p.m. or on March 12 from 5-6:30 p.m. at the McMillon Studio.

  • Setting Your Idea Free – This workshop is intended for people who have a prototype or a solution and need to get funders, partners or customers onboard. Participants will learn key storytelling techniques in a low-risk, highly interactive speed-pitching session. Participants will:
    • Learn the essential parts of a good story.
    • Learn how to identify a target audience and tailor a message to that audience.
    • Practice telling their stories live.

Workshops will be held March 27 from 5:45-7 p.m. at the Brewer Hub, April 2 from noon-1:30 p.m. at the McMillon Studio, and on April 10 from 5-6:30 p.m. at the Brewer Hub.

  • Bootstrapping 101 – This workshop is intended for innovators who have validated an idea and need help getting it off the ground. Drawing from real-life case studies, this workshop will show how creatively pulling resources together can replace or supplement traditional financing. Attendees will:
    • Learn the principles of business viability (cost structure and revenue streams).
    • Learn how to identify and apply for grant funding.
    • Understand the value of interdisciplinary teams.

Workshop will be held April 3 from 5:45-7 p.m. at the Brewer Hub.

Additional entrepreneurial programs and services will also be available:

Speed Consulting – Individuals and teams working on a business or idea can bring their questions and get advice from a range of experienced consultants, in fields ranging from marketing to design to intellectual property, in one afternoon. Consultations will be held Feb. 20 from 2-4 p.m. at the Brewer Hub or on April 19 from 2- 4 p.m. at the McMillon Studio.

Speaker Series — Be inspired by intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs with a story to tell in an intimate, conversational setting.  Lectures are held April 17 and on May 1 from 5-6:30 p.m. at the McMillon Studio.

Faculty Bootcamp – Faculty interested in using innovation and entrepreneurship workshops in concert with their classes or programs can join this two-hour session for an overview of the content. Workshops will be held March 5 from noon-1:30 p.m. at the McMillon Studio and on March 6 from 4:30-6 p.m. at the Brewer Hub.

The Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub is located at 123 W. Mountain Street in Fayetteville. The McMillon Innovation Studio is located at 146 N. Harmon Avenue. 

All events require preregistration. To register for the workshops, visit oeiworkshops.eventbrite.com. For additional information, email mcmillon@walton.uark.edu or oei@uark.edu.

Chartwells Partnership Promotes McMillon Innovation Studio Health Initiative

Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services at the University of Arkansas has made a commitment to support a health and well-being program at the McMillon Innovation Studio at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. The McMillon Studio’s mission is to catalyze innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Arkansas.

“As an organization, Chartwells/Compass Group is passionate about helping reduce food insecurity in the campuses and communities we live and work in,” said Andrew Lipson, resident district manager for Chartwells at the University of Arkansas. “I hope this initiative will educate people about making smarter food choices and provide them with better access to those food choices.”

The health and well-being program at the McMillon Innovation Studio will research various challenges with a specific focus on food insecurity and access to healthy foods.

“The partnership uses design thinking principles and puts innovation in action to discover solutions that achieve better health and well-being outcomes on campus and the larger community,” said Jessica Taylor, health and well-being program director at McMillon Innovation Studio and graduate student in the School of Social Work. “We put the customer at the heart of what we do.”

The projects are student-led and receive advice from advisory boards and local experts. The McMillon Innovation Studio also has design teams in the areas of supply chain and seamless commerce.

“I’m excited about what’s on the horizon for our teams,” said Rachel Sullivant, director of student engagement at McMillon Innovation Studio. “Our health and well-being program is a natural partnership for Chartwells. Together, we can make positive change for our students, the broader campus and the community.”

About Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services
Chartwells, a division of Compass Group North America, provides dining services for 280 colleges and universities nationwide. For more information about Chartwells, visit ChartwellsHigherEd.com or DineOnCampus.com.

About McMillon Innovation Studio
The McMillon Innovation Studio is a physical hub of innovation supporting creativity, entrepreneurship, and collaboration between all disciplines on the University of Arkansas campus. We exist to shape the future of commerce by developing and enabling students to be catalysts of innovation. Learn more about McMillon Studio at mcmillonstudio.uark.edu.

Students Help Develop App for ‘Dash’ Robotic Shopping Cart

Students working at the McMillon Innovation Studio at the Walton College have developed a prototype app for “Dash,” the robot platform designed by Five Elements Robotics. The app can build a shopping list, search for products, scan items and provide mobile checkout. Continue reading Students Help Develop App for ‘Dash’ Robotic Shopping Cart

New Student Jobs at the McMillon Innovation Studio

Beginning in fall 2018, the McMillon Innovation Studio will be forming innovation design teams that will focus on prototyping new models of delivery, services, products and policies in the areas of (1) health and well-being, (2) supply chain and (3) seamless commerce. We will be hiring student project leaders for each of these teams, who will have the opportunity to travel, create and innovate for real impact, gain job experience, earn potential credit hours, and receive potential funding to support innovation prototypes. All majors are welcome to apply.

The McMillon Innovation Studio seeks to shape the future of commerce by inspiring students to be catalysts of innovation.

For more information regarding student job opportunities, visit:

Students with creative, innovative ideas in health and well-being, supply chain or seamless commerce are welcome to join a design team being in fall 2018. Contact Rachel Sullivant at rsullivant@walton.uark.edu for additional information.

Video Project Highlights Shook’s Freshman Business Connections Class

Freshman year is life changing. Everything – from laundry and dorm rooms to classes and free time – is new and different. Teens are expected to navigate through classes and campus, manage their time and thrive on their own.

To help students’ transition to this new lifestyle, Carole Shook, an instructor for the Department of Supply Chain Management at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, created a team project to encourage freshmen to get to know each other, discover resources on campus and strengthen personal development skills.

Freshman Business Connections students visit the McMillon Innovation Studio.
Freshman Business Connections students visit the McMillon Innovation Studio.

Within her fall 2017 Freshman Business Connections class, Shook assigned a team project to create a video overview of the McMillon Innovation Studio on campus and then present their findings in class. The studio, a gift from Walmart chief executive officer and Walton graduate Doug McMillon and his wife Shelley, tests new technologies and is designed to impact the future of retail. The project, designed by McMillon Innovation Studio director Clint Johnson and Shook, required teamwork, time management, exploration of Walton College resources and networking with classmates.

Freshman Business Connections, often referred to as FBC, is taught to first-year business students to acclimate them to campus, understand what resources are available to them, introduce them to other freshman and help them be successful at the Walton College. It introduces them to David W. Mullins Library for research, academic integrity and ethics, the Business Communications Lab for writing assistance, the Credit Counseling of Arkansas for personal finance management, Walton Career Services for job readiness and the degree opportunities at Walton. The class also helps students’ transition from high school to college by nurturing personal development skills such as time management, stress management, financial planning, health and wellness, diversity and team building.

“I would say team management was the greatest skill I improved at,” said Jay Lovaas, a freshman from Canton, Ga. “I had to effectively communicate with my team members, help with any questions they may have had, and rely on them to check my work as I checked theirs.”

After selecting teams, the freshmen interviewed staff and students at the studio and created outlines for videos and presentations. Each student was responsible for a portion of the project and collaborated with the team on deliverables.

Team members Ryan Hardwick, Alexis Humm, Cydney Feinstone, Elijah Kaplan and interviewer Noah Tidmore recorded video, captured still photography, created graphics and wrote interview questions. In their video below, freshman Noah Tidmore interviews Kayla Bruskas, a senior accounting student and student manager for the McMillon Innovation Studio.

Team members for this video include Ryan Hardwick, Alexis Humm, Cydney Feinstone, Elijah Kaplan and interviewer Noah Tidmore.

“This project was created to show that freshmen students can do amazing things,” Shook said. “These were great students who worked hard and with enthusiasm.”

Throughout the project, students learned about the opportunities at the McMillon Studio, got to know their team members and explored campus. Simply put, the project helped freshmen get connected to their new life on campus.

“It was just a fun class,” Lovaas said. “It gets you in the flow of going to class during your first semester. In my opinion, the greatest thing about FBC is meeting people.”

Colleges Collaborate on Research into Efficiency, Physical Aspects of UPC Methods

A collaboration between professors in business and exercise science is adding knowledge to the research fields of both, as well as practical information for Digimarc Corporation, a corporate sponsor of the McMillon Innovation Studio at the University of Arkansas. Continue reading Colleges Collaborate on Research into Efficiency, Physical Aspects of UPC Methods