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LU students ‘trek’ to Silicon Valley

Eight Lamar University students recently traveled to Silicon Valley for a three-day immersion experience in entrepreneurship. Ignite Trek

Three engineering majors, two science majors and three business majors joined students from Rice University, University of California at Davis and the Texas Medical Center on an educational adventure, titled “Ignite Trek.” The trip provided students interested in start-ups a chance to meet some of the most successful and up-and-coming entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.

The annual conference is an all-expenses-paid program for engineering, science, business and medical students. Jack Gill, Lamar University alumnus, Houston philanthropist, successful entrepreneur and former Silicon Valley venture capitalist supports the scholarship program now in its seventh year.

Attendees visited successful companies such as Airbnb, Helix, Tesla, Box, Benchmark Capital, and more. They also heard first-hand lessons from startup founders, field leaders and CEOs, including Gill himself.

“The coolest experiences were hearing from some of the people who are in the thick of things right now. People who are currently trying to build their brand and company, produce a bigger name for themselves, get investors and try to turn a profit as quickly as possible,” said LU senior Cade Johnson, who is currently pursuing two undergraduate degrees and an MBA in leadership. “Then on the flip side of that, hearing from one guy in particular talk about how much he sacrificed to get to where he was and how much he lost on his way to get to where he ended up.”

Each student attending chose from three buses, each with a different concentration, “I went on the biotechnology bus,” said Johnson. “We visited four companies and three of those were biotechnology. We went to Evolve BioSystems, Helix, FivePrime Therapeutices and Smartcar.”

Ignite Trek is a program offered through Lamar University’s Center for Innovation Commercialization and Entrepreneurship.