One of the main goals of the Student Launch Pad at Towson University is to create a thriving culture of entrepreneurship among Towson students, faculty, and chadtoolsstaff—because we believe every student has the power and choice to be an entrepreneur and create their own opportunities. One of our newest initiatives that we will be kicking off in the fall is a new collaborative software called LaunchPad Central. We will be using this new method and set of tools to help students validate business hypotheses, test for value, and enhance the start-up process. This technology platform is a hub for students, mentors, and Launch Pad staff to collaborate on Lean initiatives and track progress of a startup or idea.
chadtools1We will integrate the software into the way we engage with students individually and as startup teams. As students work through the Business Model Canvas, they will report and illustrate their findings on and opportunities that support pivots and iterations of their initial hypotheses. Mentors and Student Launch Pad Specialists will be able to regularly track changes to students’ business model canvas—reviewing interview data and the results of business model experimentation. This software will help our students stay connected to their projects and track and legitimize the startup development process.
The LaunchPad Central software will also help us expand our offerings and collaborate more regularly chadtools2with faculty on student projects—specifically, faculty members in the College of Business and Economics that are spearheading the new minor in Entrepreneurship. This minor will be open to all non-business majors and will introduce students to creativity, startup basics, ideation, and entrepreneurial marketing. LaunchPad Central will boost our collaborative abilities by giving students and professors means to interact on a business plan or class project. It will increase team communication, streamline the business model review process, and drive course learning outcomes. LaunchPad is a new approach to teaching entrepreneurship, which builds student competence and develops entrepreneurial skillsets.



Towson University has long emphasized its responsibility to the community through its mission, its strategic plan, and the work of its students, faculty, and staff. In the aftermath of the unrest in Baltimore, these university-community partnerships are more important than ever.

Recently, the Governor’s Office and the University System of Maryland requested information from universities in the greater Baltimore area about how they are working in Baltimore City. Luckily for Towson, we are in the midst of collecting information about our university-community partnerships through a new support system that was approved by the Vice Presidents in the spring. You can read more about the system here.

Since we were already gathering information about faculty- and staff-led partnerships, we were able to quickly respond to this request by providing information about which partnerships are doing work in Baltimore City and who the partners are. This information will help the Governor’s Office and the USM see what programs are already in place to help the city rebound, where there are gaps, and where there are opportunities for growth.

This is just one way that the Towson University-Community Relationships and Partnerships Support System will improve partnerships at TU. This new system will help us to be more responsive to future requests for current information. It will provide partnership support across campus so that we can extend our reach and our impact on the community.



Hooray! Your event is over and it was a huge success, but there are still a few important things left to do. Use this post-event checklist to close out your event.

1. Send out a Surveysurvey_nicoles blog
Survey everyone: attendees, sponsors, speakers, etc. It’s best to develop your surveys ahead of time so that you can send them out the day after your event. This ensures that the event is still fresh on everyone’s mind. Choose questions that will help optimize your next event.



2. Write ‘Thank You’ Cards
Whether hand written or via email, don’t wait more than a day or two to write thank you notes to all of your staff, speakers, and VIP guests. Try to include something personal in each one; perhaps a note about a job they did well or a line from their speech. People will appreciate you paying attention!



3. Upload Photos, Videos, Filesflickr_nicoles blog
Gather photos and upload the best and most flattering ones to your website and social media sites. If you have video footage, ask your videographer to edit it into a post-event montage for easier viewing. Additionally, if any of your speakers have presentations or papers that can be shared post those to your website for attendees to download (make sure you let them know they are there!)



4. Save the Datesave the date_nicoles blog
It’s never too soon to secure the date for next year’s event. Post it to your website and share it with this year’s attendees in the post-event survey email.



5. Relax
You made it. You’ve balanced your budget, surveyed your attendees and updated your website. Now it’s time to relax. Celebrate with happy hour or sleep in late – you deserve it!



When we first started running foundation IT classes in 2011, it was only a ‘2-Cert’ program offering CompTIA A+ and Network+. These first few 2-Cert program courses were well received by our students and provided them with a solid fundamental background to quickly enter the IT workforce. It wasn’t long after we launched our first 2-Cert program, that many of our graduates wanted to explore the world of information technology further, receiving even higher level training. It was at this point we decided to expand our program.




The question we then faced was, “What is the next logical step a student should take after our 2-Cert program?” After completing our CompTIA A+ and Network+ classes, a student still has a plethora of paths she/he may take to dive deeper into information technology. We decided to play to our strengths and pursue the path of networking, specifically networking within a Cisco environment. We’ve been a evolution-of-3-certCisco Academy Support and Instructor Training Center for the Mid-Atlantic region since 2010. We were the first in the region to be recognized by Cisco in this capacity. We provide training and support to Maryland Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers who teach information technology in their respective schools. Access to this networking resource allowed us to add a Cisco network component into our program, now making it a 3-Cert program. We also invested heavily in procuring new state-of-the-art Cisco routers, switches, racks and a NETLAB+ server. The NETLAB+ server is an appliance with all software tools preloaded for academic institutions to host real lab equipment, virtual machines, and lab content for students. In 2013 we launched our first 3-Cert program with the newly added Cisco networking component. Like our 2-Cert program, it was met with great success.


Security+ Focus


We now offer 3-Cert programs in two formats where students can “choose their own adventure.” All of our 3-Cert students take the CompTIA A+ and Network+ portions of the program. At the end of Network+ they may choose to dive deeper into networking and pursue the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) track, or they may choose to pursue cybersecurity and select the CompTIA Security+ component. This new cybersecurity track gives students the opportunity to learn more about computer security and introduces them to topics like computer system risks and vulnerabilities, encryption and cryptography, data recovery, and forensics. The U.S. Department of Defense Directive 8570 (DoDD 8570) stresses the need for cybersecurity experts in today’s labor force – private and government sectors.


Learn More


Our 3-Cert program has grown to not only meet the needs of our students, but also the needs of our workforce. We continue to provide high quality training and produce graduates ready for today’s workforce.  Talk to a counselor today or request more information.



This morning we held our 7th Annual Awards Breakfast to honor the Division’s extraordinary staff members. The awards were peer and supervisor nominated and the recipients were selected by a committee. The Excellence Award recipients were honored for their top quality performance, unwavering commitment towards excellence, and outstanding contributions to the division in the areas of innovation, business development, customer service, and leadership.



2015 Excellence Award Recipients



Bryan Brick, Lead Programmer, Center for GIS









Erin Nueslein, Director, Administration and Finance









Laura McCoy, Project Manager, Center for Professional Studies



























We are so proud of our award recipients and just loved highlighting and celebrating our successes over the last year.  Additionally, in our unique division spirit and style, we topped the event by poking at ourselves with a presentation featuring some quirky division superlatives that were submitted by staff. Overall it was a great morning of reflection, awards, and, of course, fun. You can view pictures from the event on our Facebook page.





It’s finally summer in Baltimore City—I’m so glad that it’s no longer snowing!—which means that it’s time to take full advantage of the warmer weather with all sorts of outdoor activities. And, given the opportunities abounding in downtown Baltimore, many people, myself included, will be heading to the Inner Harbor during their free time. However, after reading this article regarding the status of the water quality at the Inner Harbor in the Baltimore Business Journal, I will likely be keeping my distance from the water.




Sub-par water quality in the Baltimore Harbor; Photo: The Baltimore Sun

To summarize the article, the water in the Baltimore Harbor is gross—really gross. In fact, it received an “F” in a report card jointly produced by the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Inc., and Blue Water Baltimore. While the Harbor’s water quality has been improving, from a score of 42 in 2012 to 55 in 2014, it is still unsanitary. The Harbor was graded on the following six indicators:


1. The level of fecal bacteria (the result of overflowing sewers and inadequate storm water infrastructure);
2. Chlorophyll ɑ (an indicator or algal levels; high levels of algae can deplete dissolved oxygen (DO) levels as they die and decompose, and other aquatic organisms rely on DO for respiration);
3. Conductivity (a measure of salts/charged pollutants in the water that can damage wildlife);
4. DO (what fish and aquatic organisms use to breathe);
5. Nitrogen and phosphorus levels (the result of agricultural and urban runoff, fossil fuel use, and wastewater—these pollutants can contribute to algal blooms); and
6. Turbidity (an indicator of how clear the water is and how much light, which plants use to photosynthesize, can pass through the water).



The Baltimore Harbor; Photo: Baltimore Magazine, WBAL

The Harbor received failing grades for all of these indicators except DO, which was graded as a B-. This rating is clearly a problem for the Baltimore/Chesapeake Bay watershed ecosystems and for the City of Baltimore as a whole, as there is a push for the Harbor to be swimmable and fishable by 2020. However, if the Harbor’s water quality continues to be poor, it won’t be safe for people to be in the water or eat seafood harvested from the Harbor. This water quality issue has many public health and economic impacts. In this blog post, I’ll focus primarily on the economic impacts, though public health impacts can have an economic impact since water-borne illnesses from contaminated water can be expensive in terms of health care costs, lost productivity at work, and decreased utility to consumers.



An algal bloom in the Baltimore Harbor; Photo: National Aquarium

The economic impacts of the Harbor’s low water quality are and will continue to be numerous in terms of lost benefits. First, the ability to swim in the Harbor would be a reason for people to travel and visit the Harbor, which they are essentially unable to do when the water quality is poor. Previous studies have estimated that a day of swimming (at the beach, which we could assume would be similar to a day of outdoor swimming at the Harbor) is worth $35 per visitor. These visitors would likely go out to eat, walk around, and enjoy the various amenities around downtown. A healthy harbor also provides an opportunity for Baltimore City—as wonderful and underrated as it is—to brand itself in a positive light. A “fishable harbor” creates opportunities for industry growth in local, sustainable food production, which is becoming increasingly popular with consumers. Of course, the environmental impacts from improved water quality should not be ignored and can be quantified using environmental economic theory, but that is another blog post for another time.


The Inner Harbor is an asset to Baltimore City. While it is unfortunate that the current state of its water is so poor, I hope that the trend toward improved water quality—with initiatives such as the trash wheel that collects litter in the Harbor–continues so that a “swimmable and fishable harbor” can become a reality.



As we transition from spring to summer, we’ve had an influx of new members join TU Incubator via our most recent Business Plan Competition and the Department of Business & Economic Development’s Invest Maryland Challenge. Both competitions concluded in May and helped showcase some of the talent and innovation around the state.




We warmly welcome the following new incubator members:
• Protenus
• SeeFuture
• ShapeU
Protenus aims to improve healthcare through intelligent tools and meaningful use of data. The company, launched in 2014, is the brainchild of two medical students who decided to turn their idea into a business that protects patient data by detecting electronic medical record access and addressing any unauthorized access and insider threats. is an admissions community with tools to help students get admitted to their post-secondary school of choice. Applicants have the ability to connect with other applicants, current students, and alumni to glean expertise and input, interact socially, and ease the transition into the next stage of life. started as high end admissions coaching but now has over 1200 users utilizing its platform and community.





seefurtureThe ‘Professional’ category winner of our 2015 Business Plan Competition, SeeFuture, is putting a spin on how college students and graduates find employment. SeeFuture is a career development platform for college students with mentoring, company training, and recruitment tools for employers built in. The company specifically prides itself in being cyber security’s first talent recruitment platform, providing job seekers with the opportunity and tools to join exclusive talent pools of professionals and employers.  The end result for employers? They’re able to recruit better, vet candidates, reduce hiring times, and hire quality candidates to build a better workforce.



blogFor the first time ever, TU Incubator introduced a ‘Student’ category to the annual BPC. The winner, ShapeU, is a talented group of Johns Hopkins University students who have created a platform to help like-minded individuals with similar fitness goals track their progress and meet health goals. Small communities allow users to access a professional personal trainer who will customize sessions to each fitness group. ShapeU has already partnered with major fitness clubs in the state, including Brick Bodies and the Maryland Athletic Club (MAC), and will officially launch in July.




In my previous blog, I spoke of the importance of project initiation and the 5 W’s.  When you begin a new project, there is another important process that should be completed during the initiation phase—business process management.


What is business process management?

Business process management focuses on improving the performance of a company or organization’s workflow to make it more adaptable, efficient, and effective.  I’d argue, business process management focuses on how the product or service is created/provided vs. the management surrounding the business model.


Why is business process management worth doing?

There are many reasons for utilizing business process management including:

  • Removes non value added steps by evaluating activities
  • Implements efficient process flows
  • Removes unwanted errors that may occur between departments or other processes
  • Helps managers understand how things flow and how to best explain the process in training materials

In any case, knowing and seeing the flow on paper is a great way to educate and have discussions with stakeholders. Sometimes the perception of how the business operates is not reality.


How many times have you heard why do you/we do it this way? And the answer is because that is how we’ve always done it!


Business process management provides the opportunity to challenge the norm.


The world changes, new technologies are developed, market demand shifts, the economy rises and falls, people’s attitudes change, or a host of variables can cause your product, services, and processes to become outdated. Spend the time to understand how your product or service is provided. It’s cheaper to change the process during planning than to change a poorly implemented process that failed to deliver.

Laura McCoy


This past Tuesday, June 2, 2015, we held our final session and closing reception for the inaugural class of the Towson University Professional Leadership Program for Women. The day was bittersweet for sure. It was exciting to see the program graduate its first class, but over the past ten sessions the group grew to be quite close and I think it is safe to say we are going to miss spending every other Tuesday morning together.


Over the past five months we have covered so much ground. With the help of an outstanding group of speakers, facilitators, and panelists, the participants were able to:

  • Understand their personal leadership style.
  • Practice communicating with authority, projecting a professional presence, having difficult conversations, handling crisis communications, and networking.
  • Learn how to negotiate effectively, identify organizational culture, and excel within organizations.
  • Develop their personal brand and a road map for the future.


This list does not really do the spirit of the program justice, because the impact of the program that has left all of us involved in awe is the bond that was built between the participants. Through each session of the program the participants were each other’s greatest teachers. They shared with, supported, and bolstered each other in a way that made the program quite remarkable.


The 100+ guests at the closing reception were a testament to how important the program was to participants. I was able to meet spouses, family, friends, coworkers, and employers, all of whom were gushing with pride for “their” participant.

leadership class


The reception included an impressive lineup of speakers including Towson University’s Interim President Dr. Timothy Chandler, Vice President of Innovation and Applied Research Dyan Brasington, and Vice President of University Marketing and Communications Josianne Pennington, and Baltimore City’s Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake. The program participants also elected two of their classmates to speak on behalf of the class: Amy Bennett and Jodi Schwartz.


At a loss for words to summarize the program myself, I will borrow form Amy’s speech:

Speaking from my heart, this class exceeded my expectations and led me to the answers I was seeking at the start….Why did TU develop the Professional Leadership Program for Women…why not just a leadership program for professionals? What does gender have to do with it and why should I be interested in a class with women only?

I can tell you that my career norm – like most of yours – has always been to assimilate with men. I’ve never experienced the camaraderie of a woman’s majority so I never knew I could miss it. I have a better appreciation now for having collaborated, discussed, solved problems, and shared perspectives with each of you. What I have learned through this powerful cohort of female leaders is invaluable.


Having the opportunity to be a part of the team that supported this inaugural class of the Towson University Professional Leadership Program for Women has been one of the most distinct honors and pleasures of my career. I am grateful for everyone who worked on this with me, the amazing participants, and Dr. Maravene Loeschke for having the vision!


And now, it is time to look towards the next class scheduled to begin in January 2016! For more information about the program or to request an application, please the website.

The Student Launch Pad has been active at Towson University for two semesters now, during which we have had many opportunities to meet and engage with creative students with a passion for innovation and entrepreneurship. One such student is senior biology major Bobby Gattuso, who founded an innovative company called Hop Theory in 2013. Bobby is passionate about craft beer and sought to create a product that infuses ordinary beers to bolster their flavor and make them more palatable. Bobby developed custom sachets that essentially work like teabags. Each biodegradable sachet is filled with ingredients such as cascade hops, orange peels and coriander seeds. Pour any light, inexpensive beer of your choice over the sachet, let the ingredients infuse for at least three minutes and then BAM!—you got yourself a low cost, low calorie craft beer.

The Student Launch Pad has been working with Bobby to further develop various aspects of his venture and get his small business off the ground. He has since written a formal business plan, participated in the TU Incubator’s Business Plan Competition, and grown his network and connections. Another major accomplishment—Bobby successfully launched and received funding from a Kickstarter campaign. In 45 days on Kickstarter, 1,089 backers pledged $30,978 to help chadpost1bring his business to life!! Bobby’s work on Hop Theory is an exciting representation of the start-up process and the astounding things that students are able to accomplish. The campaign also generated some incredible buzz around his product and business. Multiple news outlets—including the Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Mirror, Playboy, Geek, and Uncrate—contacted Bobby and posted stories about Hop Theory.

chadpost2In the next five years, Bobby sees Hop Theory evolving into a craft microbrewery which will complement their line of beer enhancing sachets. He also has an interest in exploring distillation alongside brewery operations. In the immediate future, Bobby will be working diligently with his production and distribution companies to fulfill orders from his Kickstarter campaign. He will also continue to explore and grow his business with assistance from the Student Launch Pad and the TU Incubator.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Bobby himself: “The time to take risk and follow your passion in business is now. No better way to start then by joining the Student Launch Pad here or TU Incubator!”


Keep track of Bobby and Hop Theory’s success of their website and social media — great things are surely in store.