Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning - Entrepreneurship

SMU Alum’s business featured on NBCDFW

We love seeing SMU entrepreneurs in the news! SMU alum Lidya Winnie ‘19 was recently featured on Texas Today on NBC discussing her natural beauty business Konjo Beauty. Watch Lidya’s Texas Today segment

Lidya started her company Konja Beauty while studying Arts Entrepreneurship and Markets and Culture and developed this idea as a fellow at the Big iDeas, SMU Incubator. You can learn more about her business and shop her products at

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research Student Academic Engagement & Success

New Issue of SMU JoUR Out Now!

One of the greatest opportunities that SMU has to offer its students is undergraduate research. Through programs like Big iDeas, Engaged Learning Fellowship, and others, students are encouraged and supported in the exploration of their academic passions. The Office of Engaged Learning and SMU Libraries have collaborated in creating SMU Journal of Undergraduate Research (JoUR): an evolving double-blind, peer-reviewed journal that serves as a testament to the university’s commitment to undergraduate research. 

The Journal provides a platform for students to share the products of their diverse research topics to the SMU community and the academic world.  SMU JoUR emphasizes intra- and interdisciplinary partnerships and celebrates the accomplishments of undergraduate researchers and their faculty mentors. Joshua Ange, JoUR’s Editor-in-Chief, “hopes that JoUR is able to encourage those not currently pursuing research to explore this path, and those already involved in research to share their interesting work.” 

The latest release of the SMU JoUR is Issue 1 of Volume 8, and it is out now with a variety of topics including: 

Radon Plate-out and the Effects of Airflow and Electric Charge for Dark Matter Experiments by Faith Fang (Dr. Robert Calkins, faculty mentor)

Cognitive Reappraisal is Associated with Lower Dysphoria Symptoms During the COVID-19 Pandemic by Nadia Armstrong, Diane Moon, and Dr. Holly Bowen

Identifying Barriers to Mental Health Services Utilization for Black Youth in the United States: A Qualitative Study by Emily Stein, Matthew Hutnyan, and Dr. Neely Myers

Thriving in College: International, First-Generation, and Transfer Students by Hannah Webb, Nikita Kulkarni, and Dr. Dustin Grabsch

For students that are interested in having their work included or want to pursue a research project, Joshua encourages them to reach out! As for anyone interested in reading and learning more, be sure to explore the SMU Journal of Undergraduate Research and immerse yourself in the significant work of these emerging scholars as they contribute to their respective fields! 

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning - Entrepreneurship

Congratulations Big iDeas Business Plan Winners!

On Friday, February 12, The Office of Engaged Learning held its annual Big iDeas Business Plan Competition where twelve undergraduate entrepreneurship teams pitched their business plan in four minutes to a panel of business experts. Seven entrepreneurs were awarded funding up to $7,000. Please help us in congratulating the winners:

Ryder Mc Neal ’24, PREVO

Jude Lugo ’24, LectureLogger

Mason Morland ’24, SteadiSpoon

Anish Senthikumar ’25 and Vedang Uniyal ’24, The Active Mind Initiative

Joshua Baier, ’24, Timio News

Mason Dierkes ’27, Seed Innovate

Benjamin Omoregbe ’24, Internsurf

Special thanks to our judges Ayodele Aigbe (CEO of Hangio), Andrew Denton (Founder of Glia Health and Prosper AI), and Michael Kelly (Co-Founder of Resolute Future).

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research

Applications for SRI due Friday Feb 9!

SMU Faculty: applications for the Summer Research Intensive are due Friday, February 9th.

Faculty members may apply for match funding to support up to 2 undergraduate research assistants for the summer. The students may work up to 30 hours per week and attend weekly symposia and professional development workshops.

Further information is available on our site,

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning - Entrepreneurship

Introducing Big iDeas Marketplace!

The Office of Engaged Learning invites all SMU-affiliated entrepreneurs to sell their products, demo their apps, share brochures, etc. at the Big iDeas Marketplace on February 9, 2024 from 11am to 1pm.

Big iDeas has held a demo fair featuring past winners each spring. Now we are opening up the fair to the community. If you have a business, no matter the size, and want to participate, please sign up for a table at the Big iDeas Marketplace.

Big iDeas business plan competition February 9 2024. Apply at


Winners of the Big iDeas Business Plan Competition will also be announced at the Marketplace. The Competition is open to all SMU undergrads. Apply here.

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research Student Academic Engagement & Success

Interview with LectureLogger Founder Jude Lugo

For many students at SMU and across the country, classroom attendance is a battle but also it is the first step to ensure their success in university. Knowing this, SMU has really pushed for different ways to support student retention through the commons system, classrooms, and other support systems. Jude Lugo, a junior majoring in Management with a specialization in Entrepreneurship, has contributed to this goal incredibly through his Big iDeas project LectureLogger – and app that tracks attendance and student wellness for colleges and universities. 

Jude was inspired by his own student experiences and by his peers. He noticed that it was difficult for him to “track [his] own absences and which ones were or were not excused. [He] also became aware that classmates who weren’t held accountable for missing classes were falling behind.” Jude believed that tracking attendance would be a beneficial way to help professor and students by helping “professors and administrators identify students who are at risk and enables them to reach out to avert an academic crisis that could have negative ripple effects on a student’s overall well-being.” 

In order to realize his idea, Jude consulted several professors to understand what kind of product would be helpful for attendance tracking. Jude also worked closely with a contract developer to develop the project. Most importantly, Jude worked with his fellow students to ensure that “the product is easy to use and supportive of student learning.” This background work paid off as a recent survey revealed that 84% of students are more likely to attend classes that utilize LectureLogger! 

LectureLogger has been a remarkable success, but Jude is not just done yet. With three semesters left at SMU, Jude hopes to “make LectureLogger a staple in classrooms at SMU and across the country.” In addition, through Big iDeas Jude has also been able to launch another project called CommerceNavigator, a software that helps online sellers with their bookkeeping. It is evident through his projects that Jude is committed to innovating and addressing the evolving needs of his community. Be sure to look into CommerceNavigator and LectureLogger and check out Poets and Quants to read more about Jude’s work! 


Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies Office of Engaged Learning Office of General Education Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs University Advising Center University Testing Center

Spring updates from the University Testing Center

Welcome back to campus! It’s hard to believe that the University Testing Center (UTC) has completed its first operation phase since opening in August 2022.  We look forward to continuing our specialized testing services for Disability Accommodations and Success Strategies (DASS) students needing accommodated testing and our student-athletes needing early or make-up testing due to travel during the competitive season.  Beginning this summer, we’ll expand our services to include standard academic make-up testing, fee-based testing for non-SMU students in the local community, and credit-by-exam testing (CLEP) for some SMU courses.

Testing at the UTC is done by appointment weekdays between 8:30 and 3:30 p.m. with extended hours during final exams.  Appointments must be made at least 48 business hours before classroom testing dates using the UTC Portal at

The UTC Portal’s updated exam submission process allows professors to determine when eligible students can test at the UTC, automatically upload tests by course name and section number, and retrieve completed tests with proctoring documentation. Stop by the UTC in the basement of Clements Hall to tour the facility, meet the staff, and have a one-on-one consultation to make the testing experience easier for you and your students!

Scantron Exam processing at the University Testing Center ends May 10th

The University Testing Center (UTC) scanning and reporting service for exam Scantrons will end after AY 2023-24.  A few faculty members use the service as the migration to Canvas continues, as directed by the Office of the Provost.  This, along with increasing maintenance costs and staffing needs for new testing services at the UTC, was a deciding factor in ending the service.  Official announcements will be sent periodically to faculty users through various channels so they may prepare for alternatives.

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research Student Academic Engagement & Success

Research & Innovation Week April 1-5

  • The undergraduate poster session will be held on Tuesday, April 2, from 2-5pm
  • Two graduate poster sessions will be held on Wednesday, April 3:
    • 9am-12pm for students in Dedman College graduate programs and
    • 2-5pm for graduate students in all other graduate programs and postdoctoral scholars.
  • Keynote talk: Thursday, April 4, at 5pm
    • Keivan Stassun, Director of the Frist Center for Autism & Innovation and Stevenson Professor of Physics & Astronomy at Vanderbilt University

Please encourage your students to participate in the poster sessions! This is a great opportunity for students and postdocs to share their research with the SMU community, and to compete for cash prizes.  They can find more information, as well as the link to register for the poster sessions on the Research and Innovation Week website.

News Office of Engaged Learning Student Academic Engagement & Success

National Mentoring Month 2024

Did you know January is National Mentoring Month? Mentoring plays a significant role in the university experience, providing students with the support, guidance, and resources they need to succeed. As a new semester begins, now is the perfect time for us to reflect on the impact these positive relationships have within our academic community.

Here are some of the benefits of mentoring, to name a few: 

  • Improved academic performance
  • Positive impact on mental health and well-being
  • Boosted confidence and sense of belonging
  • Connections on campus and beyond
  • Preparation for life after college

Peer mentoring is equally as important to student success and offers the unique benefit of the shared experience!

Starting this spring, the Office of Engaged Learning will re-launch SMU Mustang Mentors in partnership with the Mentor Collective, a peer mentoring platform to promote student engagement and tailor mentorship to fit all students’ needs.

Join us in celebrating National Mentoring Month and stay tuned for more on SMU Mustang Mentors!  

News Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning - Entrepreneurship Student Academic Engagement & Success

SMU student entrepreneur Trevor Gicheru in the news

Trevor Gicheru, a computer science junior at SMU, is making headlines with his software Nurovant AI, which uses AI technology to create quizzes, flashcards, and study tools from audio recordings of lectures. While preparing for a class at SMU, he saw an opportunity for the app, and fellow students are already using it to improve their learning experience. Nurovant AI is growing popularity among students and investors alike, and recently featured in the Dallas Morning News.

In 2024, Trevor and his team have ambitious goals for Nurovant AI.

“We are currently in the midst of raising a pre-seed round of 250k. We’ve already secured about half of our funding target and aim to complete this round by the end or middle of January,”  Trevor said. “Additionally, we’ve garnered venture interest from VCs across the country. Our objective is to finalize a deal with one of these firms by mid-year. Another key goal is to achieve 10,000 downloads of our app by April, a milestone that would significantly demonstrate our product’s traction and market fit. We’re also aiming to pilot our school-facing version of the software in at least five schools, broadening our impact and reach.”

As a two-time winner of the Big iDeas Pitch Competition, Trevor has great advice for students aspiring to build a startup:

“My advice is straightforward: take action,” he says. “Don’t wait for others to believe in your dreams. It’s essential to be proactive and pursue your vision with determination and resilience. Building a startup is a journey filled with challenges, but with a strong belief in your ideas and a willingness to work hard, you can create something truly impactful.”

For SMU students looking to take the next step in building their startup, The Office of Engaged Learning will be holding the Big iDeas Business Plan Competition on February 9 from 9am -1pm. Encourage students to apply today to pitch to win $5000.