School is in session for a handful of students looking to learn the entrepreneurial trade.

The Quad Innovation Program, a monthlong course now in its second year, features a series of speakers, tasks students with projects and challenges them to create and innovate in the Springs.

The course was formed through a partnership between Colorado College, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Community College and the U.S. Air Force Academy. The grand purpose of the non-credit class, according to this year's director, Air Force Capt. Bryce Luken, is to prepare participants for the world of entrepreneurship.

"The macro goal for the whole program is integrating these students from very different backgrounds and cultures from the four universities to come together and see the value in ideating to create value opportunities for each other and for Colorado Springs," he said.

This year's 14 students, ranging in age from their early 20s to late 40s, will hear from about a dozen speakers who are experienced in business. The class, which started Tuesday, was introduced Wednesday morning to Tara Bauer, owner of That Truck, a year-old food truck which originated in Colorado Springs.

She recounted her own business's birth and took questions before serving food to the students. Her message was simple.

"Anybody can do anything they want to do, as long as they set their mind to it and don't give up," she said.

Her lecture, as well as what was taught in the first two days of class, resonated with the participants. Alana Mitchell, owner of Body Works by Alana, said the program has taught her how to succeed where others have failed.

"This is already the second day, and I've learned so much, like being able to know about revenue and about the type of geographic people that I'm trying to get to," the PPCC nursing student said.

Her main goal before class ends July 29 is to network and gain experience. Her peer, Adam Marcinkowski, had some goals of his own.

"My long-term, high-in-the-sky dream is to be the CEO of an asteroid mining corporation," the 22-year-old Air Force Academy cadet said. "That's going to take a lot of capital to start up and a lot of experience in the business world. So you have to start small and then build on every experience. This is me starting small."

Both students had little to no experience in business entrepreneurship like many of their classmates, whose majors varied from music to engineering. This year's educational approach has changed from the inaugural run to give those students a better experience, Luken said.

"We wanted to give them all a tight package of content that gives them the essential tools they would need to launch a venture," he said.

Marcinkowski, who is studying political science, appreciated the opportunity to work with business-oriented individuals and looks forward to starting his own business.

"The military always talks about innovation. I'd love to live that," he said. "I want to have a business on the side, hopefully one that helps the Air Force and the country. This is a great place to get that."


Contact May Ortega: 636-0275

Twitter: @MayVOrtega