A Floor of Freshmen Entrepreneurs

By Antonio Menarde W’19/ENG’19

Editor’s note: Each year, Ware College House dedicates one floor to a special community: Penn freshmen with a passion for research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. We asked a student living on that floor now to describe what it’s like:

You would never guess that behind the extemporaneous dinosaur posters that cover our hall walls, one of the quirkiest (and best) idea incubators on campus is hard at work. I learned early on that there is no person you can meet at Penn who is not already friends with someone from our hall: the Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship program. Though we are known for being “hella tight”, the diversity of people, opinions, and ideas is the foundation of our community, and the reason a lot of people seem to know us.

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Members of the research, innovation, and entrepreneurship floor.

Whartonites, computer scientists, physicists, engineers, and members from every school intermingle constantly in our hall. But we don’t just chat; we collaborate on work, on projects; there are 2-3 startups at work at any given moment… in a community of freshman!

What brings us together is hardly describable; you would think in a hall where everyone fills their course load, fills their free time with clubs and project teams, dance groups and varsity sports teams, that, well, there would be no time left. But, whenever you walk through you are liable to see a few hallmates playing an obscure board game or Super Smash Bros. or arguing about the current state of energy, or entrepreneurship, or VR.

Perhaps why we make sure we always have time for each other is twofold; the first is that we see the benefit in having a strong support group, especially given the intensity of our schedules—and in RIE, there is always someone willing to listen. The second being that we each see the value in associating and learning from people who we perhaps do not share a single class with, whose interests outside of the hall are completely different than our own. We know there is something to learn, and we really want to hear what it is.

I doubt you could find anyone in our hall that would rather be somewhere else. It really is great. To be able to step outside my room and pretty much knock on any door and have a place to work, someone to talk to, gives a reassuring glow in the intensity of Penn. I really couldn’t recommend it more, and honestly, I’ll be pretty devastated when I have to move.

Antonio 200Bio: Antonio Menarde is a freshman pursuing a dual degree in Wharton and Systems Engineering in SEAS. Outside of his schoolwork he launches big balloons to the edge of space in Penn Aerospace Club and mentors through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. He enjoys running, entrepreneurship, and pictures of cats.