Start Something LAS Academy

Develop your big idea and change the world!

Have you ever thought, “There’s got to be a better way” – or maybe you’ve envisioned how to solve a problem to make the world a better place.

Whether your big idea is an innovative product, a way to ignite social change, or a way to transform an organization, you can acquire the skills, knowledge and personal networks to become an agent of change in the Start Something LAS Academy!

Three students hold up their certificates in front of a banner that says congratulations

Start Something in LAS

Become part of the next cohort in the Start Something LAS Academy!

Ready to explore your ideas and potential? Check out the Start Something LAS Academy! Based in Iowa State’s state-of-the-art Student Innovation Center, the academy offers a hands-on opportunity for you and your fellow changemakers to explore innovation and entrepreneurship.

Success stories

  • Portrait of Madeline Ladehoff, a LAS Start Something Academy alumni


    Madeline wants to make dance education safer and more inclusive.

    Learn more
  • An ISU band member displays colorful lights on their instrument


    Logan is part of a team that is developing sound-sensitive lights for band instruments.

    Learn more
  • Portrait of Aliya Warth and her golden retriever Windsow


    Aliya created the first Assistance Dogs International-accredited service dog organization in Iowa.

    Learn more

Maximize your potential

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers a two-year academy for all LAS majors, where you can engage in online, face-to-face, and interactive activities to experience and develop an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset. We’ll even match you with a mentor in the second year, and you can emerge from the academy with a well-defined path to develop your big idea – or ideas you may have in the future! Opportunities on campus like ISU’s Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship’s CYstarters student accelerator are a natural next step for students completing the academy, and we’ll help you get there.

Portrait of Madeline Ladehoff, a LAS Start Something Academy alumni

The academy gives you the capacity to learn and grow and take those risks. But there’s always someone to cheer you on and catch you if you fall, which is great.

Madeline, entrepreneurship, dance, Spanish

student at the LAS Pitch off

An adventure in innovation

Throughout the entire program, you will acquire knowledge and skills, nurture concepts to creation, and build a peer and professional network that affirms your unique position in the world NOW.

Year 1: skill development, weekly meetings with peers

  • Leadership
  • Risk and benefit analysis
  • Resourcing your idea
  • Strategic communication

Year 2: project implementation, monthly meetings with mentor & bi-monthly meetings with peers.

Frequently asked questions

LAS majors ready to explore innovation and entrepreneurship (especially open-option students!) Participants must be enrolled in an LAS major and maintain a minimum 2.25 GPA. Students must have at least 4 semesters remaining at ISU upon entering the academy, including the fall semester when they join.

This innovative program begins in the fall of each year and lasts four semesters, culminating in a collaboration with your own career mentor. You’ll earn one credit each semester.

Drop us an email if you have additional questions. We’d love to hear from you!

Attend one of our information sessions and fill out an interest form. We have a limited number of seats available, so snag your spot now!

We are especially interested in recruiting a diverse cohort that represents all LAS students.

Join these Iowa State LAS alumni

We are excited for you to join the ranks of LAS innovators and entrepreneurs like these:

Aili Mu, associate professor of world languages and cultures, poses with her award-winning book.
Aili Mu, associate professor of world languages and cultures, poses with her award-winning book.
  • Danny O’Neill (’83, political science and international studies) – Founder of The Roasterie, Inc.
  • Bruce Roth (PhD ’81 organic chemistry) – Inventor of cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor
  • Charles Notis (’70 meteorology, MS ’73) and Harvey Freese (’70 meteorology, MS ’73) – Co-founders of the Freese-Notis weather forecasting company
  • R. Samuel Houk, professor of chemistry – Inventor of lead-detecting equipment used during Flint, Michigan water crisis
  • Steve Kawaler, professor of physics and astronomy, and Miles Lucas (’19 physics) – Contributed to analysis of a new planet discovered by NASA’s new TESS Mission
  • Dillon Jensen (’21 computer science) – Co-founder of Jensen Applied Sciences LLC, which brings the Internet of Things to businesses such as local breweries
  • Geetu Tuteja, assistant professor of genetics, development and cell biology – Applying next-generation technologies that could detect and prevent serious placental disorders like preeclampsia
  • Amanda Petefish-Schrag, assistant professor of theatre – Innovator in puppetry made from recycled materials, used to educate communities about sustainability
  • Aili Mu, associate professor of world languages and cultures – Creator of an entirely new way of teaching Chinese language, literature and culture
  • Thomas Wilhite (‘74 journalism and mass communications) – Founder of Hyperion Pictures, which brought us the animated feature “The Brave Little Toaster”