Chemist Returns to Trinity to Head Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship


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Aug. 30, 2013

Chemist Returns to Trinity to Head Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship


Students in residence hall will live and learn the concepts of brainstorming and creating


Entrepreneurship Hall

Former Trinity student and Rackspace co-founder Pat Condon carries a box for a student moving into Beze Hall, home of the Entrepreneur Floor.

By Susie P. Gonzalez

SAN ANTONIO - In returning to Trinity University with a Harvard doctorate in chemistry and two patents, Luis Martinez '91 is building on strengths and expanding the scope of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

As director of the refocused program, Martinez already has secured partnerships with San Antonio-based tech companies such as Geekdom and Rackspace and will continue to sponsor activities such as the 3-Day Startup for Trinity students and others to brainstorm the creation, production, and marketing of a product or service.

'We want to give everyone on campus the opportunity to engage and learn about the principles of entrepreneurship," he said. The center, he added, can function as the University's "front door" linking community business leaders with interns who are willing to work and learn. The door could swing the other way, too, offering students a bridge to employment options, career mentoring, and even inspiration.

Incoming first-year students with an interest in what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur signed up to live on a floor of Beze Residence Hall. Martinez, as well as former Trinity students, including Rackspace co-founder Pat Condon, joined Team Trinity to lift boxes and baggage in helping students in late August move into their home for the coming academic year.

Entrepreneurship Hall
Entrepreneurship Hall

Above: A Team Trinity members carries boxes to a room on the Entrepreneur Floor.
Below: Taking a break from moving in students are, front row, from left, Luis Martinez '91, director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Pat Condon, former student and Rackspace co-founder; and Trinity President Dennis A. Ahlburg. Standing in the back row, from left, are Nick Honegger '13, business and entrepreneurship; resident mentor Victor Vo; and Mitch Hagney '13, major in human communication and international relations with a concentration in environmental sciences and a minor in geosciences.

Zachary Rodriguez of Houston said he chose the Entrepreneur Floor because, "It's a good opportunity to be rooming with people who love the same thing."

Daniel House of Austin added that the entrepreneurial cohort would be a "good experience" for sharing ideas and for making a dream come true. "If you have a vision for something like Microsoft and can identify some capital, you can change the world."     

As the entrepreneur program evolves, Martinez envisions maintaining the University's minor for entrepreneurs and possibly adding a major or minor in social entrepreneurship. He also wants to engage Trinity alumni in student project teams by sharing experiences and serving as mentors. 

"In this way, Trinity would no longer be only a place where you went to school but a place you are still engaging with," he said of Trinity alumni. 

One of his first tasks will be assembling work groups for current students, faculty, alumni, and external stakeholders. He will consult with each group to evaluate the academic components and co-curricular elements of the program to make sure it is aligned with the University's evolving strategic plan. "Our hope is that the outcome is a nationally recognized program of distinction," Martinez said.

In addition to teaching entrepreneurship courses, Martinez will also teach chemistry and conduct research with an undergraduate student next summer.  Scientists are natural innovators, he said, because they seek workable solutions when current techniques or equipment can't solve a problem.

Martinez was an obvious choice to lead the entrepreneurship program in a new direction. In addition to serving as a management consultant, his experience includes a unique blend of innovative research, teaching, and community outreach that is focused on student-centered development of conceptual understanding.  

A 1991 honors graduate in chemistry from Trinity, Martinez went on to earn a master's and doctorate from Harvard (where he developed a chemistry process that led to his first patent.) He previously taught at the University of Texas, El Paso (where work for the second patent took place) and Rollins College. He was a senior scientist at the Scripps Research Institute, Florida, and also has worked in private industry as a senior account executive with Feinstein-Kean Healthcare, an Ogilvy PR Worldwide Company.  Martinez also co-founded a consulting firm that served clients in southwest Texas and southern New Mexico.

He also is dedicated to scientific workforce diversity and has worked nationally to support and broaden the participation of underrepresented minorities in research and the recruitment and retention of  university minority faculty and students in science through his active involvement with SACNAS, the American Chemical Society, and the Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowship Programs.

On a national scale, Martinez holds an appointment to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable (CSR) of the National Research Council. The CSR is a unique science-oriented, apolitical forum of leaders of the chemical enterprise. 

Susie P. Gonzalez is director of public and media relations at Trinity University and can be reached at susie.gonzalez@trinity.edu