We know a good thing when we see it, hear it and test it. So, when the scale measuring student success tilted in favor of a first-year experience, with our students in living-learning communities, we acted. And we made it happen – with 520 students, 400 Beaver Nation volunteers, 225 Fridays in Austin workshops, 67 business startups, 3 residence halls and one huge goal – we’re drying ourselves off from the wild ride that has been the launch year of Innovation Nation, the first-year experience.

Innovation Nation introduces theory, promotes practical and hands-on skills, and taps into the network of alumni and business leaders who visit the college. We are creating confident, engaged and resourceful entrepreneurs.

We can’t wait for our Innovation Nation students to come back and welcome the new cohort – because that is the goal. (And, seeing you back in Austin Hall, too!)

Read on for more of the first-year journey.

The new generation is here

I t’s 8:30 p.m. in Weatherford Hall, the all freshmen, all business and design student residence hall, and it is a scene of dorm-life “new normal” for OSU’s College of Business. Technology figures prominently, as students press through assignments, working with their team to put the final touches on their business plans, and decompressing with their headphones and social media.

The new generation is here, Gen Z — the first cohort in the College of Business’ “Innovation Nation” first-year experience — and they’re wired into a new and intentional curriculum experience, writing business plans and launching their own micro-businesses all before they call themselves sophomores. They’re practicing from day one how to be the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Oregon State College of Business

The team of first-year College of Business entrepreneurs designing a bicycle blinker are (left to right) Noah Cooke, Gavin Chan, Dmytro Shabanov, Sydney Brentano, Graham Barber, Kyle Petersen and Fabriel Nguyen.

A year of learning and doing

For Dmytro Shabanov, this was a pleasant surprise. Shabanov — who works with six other entrepreneurs to launch a new product, a bicycle turning signal — finds his first year as a business student far from average.

“To be honest, I expected the first year of business school to be all book work — just reading about business without much doing — with junior and senior year being when we’d write business plans,” Shabanov said. “So for us to be working together as freshmen to start our own business and launch a real product is pretty exciting. Not to mention, our product could really take off, which makes this much more motivating than your average team project.”

Innovation Nation revolves around coursework that introduces fundamental theory and promotes practical and hands-on skills across all areas of business studies. By the end of the first year, students also have tapped into the experience of alumni, business leaders and CEOs who visit the College of Business to share stories of hard work, success and surviving failure.

“This is the kind of experiential learning that positions students to be more engaged in the broader community and with their faculty and peers,” said Sandy Neubaum, director of student engagement at the College of Business. “Our philosophy behind Innovation Nation is to prepare students to be profession-ready with the skill set and mindset that today’s ‘nano fast’ business environment requires.”

A longer version of this article first appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of the OSU alumni magazine, Oregon Stater.



Innovation Nation: Philosophy

Oregon State College of Business


BA 161: From Awareness to Action, Winter 2017 - Syllabus

By the end of the term, you will be able to:

1.Explain key business activities (i.e. accounting, finance, marketing, operations, etc.) and the primary concepts and terms associated with these activities.  


2.Describe how business interacts with the external environment and how this interaction impacts both business and the external environment.


3.Describe the financial, legal, and administrative procedures involved in starting new business ventures.

4.Identify ethical issues facing businesses.


5.Explain current business news from the perspective of different business disciplines.


6.Represent financial analysis models in a spreadsheet including preparation of charts and graphs.


7.Work collaboratively on a team-based community project or a micro-business using foundational business knowledge.

Week 1: Team Exercise

Oregon State University College of Business


The experience so far in business school has been quite direct and hands on, which is something I enjoy. It's refreshing after all the typical classes I had to sit through in high school. There are a lot of opportunities that the college offers, which is extremely nice. I've taken advantage of many of these opportunities. Overall, it's kind of fast, the way the college revolves, so it feels 'business-setting proper.'

I think the environment on my team is a most ideal one, one that's just based on the foundation of friends getting together to do work. We know how to manage responsibility and accountability, but we aren't forgetting the fun in it all.

There's the idea that many people go to school and come out with debt in their pockets, carrying on in a life of just working a job and never really knowing or being able to express freedom. I chose business in hopes of finding financial freedom, but ultimately in hopes of finding a way to change the world for better.

There's opportunities surrounding you everywhere, an entire community waiting to find the next passionate soul, and a world that still has a lot of unsolved problems.

The core of it all comes down to integrity. If you can work harder and smarter than anyone else, you'll get your dividends.


— Fabriel Nguyen

"It’s the only way you will ever get anything worth doing done."

Oregon State College of Business

They've taken us in as freshman and immediately thrown us into the deep — in other words, allowing us to not only actually make up business plans, but implement them and start our own businesses. Our team works well because we split and vary each task. The team is made up of three groups — management, operations and marketing — each of which has different assignments that must be completed by certain dates.

This class is teaching us how to work on teams of people with different backgrounds, attitudes, interests — all of which contribute to a valuable skill set for the future. 

As a manager, I am gaining valuable experience, bringing these people and our varying ideas together to execute a single plan. We have worked together to solve problems, even things such as finding a meeting time that works for everyone. All of these skills will help me down the road when I’m working on a different team with different ideas, attitudes and interests — a different team, yet the strategies that apply to that situation will remain the same.

This has made for a great business school experience. Allowing us the opportunity to participate in entrepreneurship, in my opinion, is really something special. The College of Business is allowing us to explore our creative sides, facilitating innovation in like-minded students. I don’t think I could ask for more.

My advice to future teams? Compromise and listen to each other; it’s the only way you will ever get anything worth doing done.

— Syndey Brentano

Assignments (including)

Oregon State College of Business


Read: Business – A Changing World
      Chapter 11: Dimensions of Marketing Strategy
      Chapter 12: Customer-Driven Marketing
      Chapter 14: Accounting and Financial Statements
Watch: Video on Cost Behavior
Complete: Quiz 6 Chapter 14
Complete: GAP Analysis
Complete: Individual feedback on Departmental Business Plans

Advice (including)

In the workplace, employers expect employees to work effectively in diverse team settings. In the best of worlds, working as a team can be difficult.
Team members have different learning styles, commitments, and dedication to learning.
The upside is teamwork can be a very rewarding experience in which the “sum is greater than the parts” and team members are exposed to new ways of thinking and interacting.



Circuit Box: First Rendering

Oregon State College of Business

While I enjoy engineering and computer programming, and I have a lot of experience programming, I found that I like best working with other programmers and organizing their work on a project.

I decided that I wanted to dedicate my time in school to learning how to optimize and remove obstacles from my team members' paths.

I also decided to work on learning entrepreneurship, because it's my goal to run my own game development studio.

Since I wanted to go to school for entrepreneurship, I looked for a school that would allow me to run my own business in a safe environment. That's exactly the experience I'm getting now.

I think that the practice this class is giving me is going to be useful down the road. This is an exercise, from start to finish, designing and selling a product. As an entrepreneur, this is invaluable experience for what I want to do in the future.

— Graham Barber

Turn Signal on Handle Bars: Rendering

Oregon State College of Business

The reason I decided to focus on business for a major was that in high school I was involved in DECA, and I really understood the concepts and business activities. Another influential reason was because of my family. My dad's in sales; my grandfather and great grandfather own their own business.

But the other big influence was the entrepreneur side of the business, and how it is like engineering in that it solves real life issues and makes a difference.  

I actually had no idea of what to expect from OSU's business school. But the whole experience that I have been able to gain from Innovation Nation and the business course is quite different from the usual stereotype — that being a heavily lectured course.

Here it is not the case: we are getting hands-on experience and getting a feel for what business is like by creating a product from scratch and going through the business plan marketing, operations and management.

The advice I have for future teams in this class is to know who you want to team up with, be sure to be proactive rather than reactive, and know that communication is key to success.

— Gavin Chan


Week 10: Prepare for Innovation Nation Trade Show

Oregon State College of Business

In the space of ten weeks, our first-year entrepreneurs encountered an integrated view of both established and entrepreneurial business organizations by studying their common processes and characteristics. The series introduces theory and develops basic skills in the areas of management, finance, accounting, and marketing. 

Our Innovation Nation Trade Show in the Austin Hall Marketplace featured:


  • 17 sections of BA 161, "From Awareness to Action"
  • 67 student teams pitching their business plans
  • 700 visitors and guests to the College of Business