Student FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Idea Riser?

Idea Riser is a way to help Radford University students develop their ideas and foster innovation on campus. It is (literally) a box, stuffed with guidance, resources and access to $300 to help you fine-tune and develop your idea. Students are encouraged to use the CITL and Radford University MakerSpace tools and community to help turn your idea into a reality.  

What specifically is in the Idea Riser box?

We can’t tell you – we don't want to ruin the surprise :)

What can I make with an Idea Riser?

You tell us! When we were developing Radford University’s Idea Riser, we didn’t have any specific projects in mind. It could be something that solves a problem in the world, on campus or in your room. It could be a prototype or a finished product. Need inspiration? Take a look at one of the United Nation’s Global Problems or see what students made in Spring 2016.

Who can apply for an Idea Riser?

Radford University students in all majors are invited to apply for an Idea Riser.

How do I get an Idea Riser?

We have a limited number of Idea Risers to distribute this year, so it’s a competitive process that involves a few steps.

  1. Think of an idea for a project that you can complete in roughly three months time (start now).
  2. Identify a Radford University faculty or staff sponsor who supports your idea (start now).
  3. Complete an online application explaining your idea and why it’s worth pursuing (Applications open until Dec. 15 at 8 a.m.).
  4. Receive confirmation that your Idea Riser project was accepted (January)
  5. Attend an in-person workshop (approx 1-2 hours) in mid-January or early February. You will receive the Idea Riser at this session.

How much time do I have to finish my project?

You’ll have between mid-January/early February (when you pick up your Idea Riser) to late April to work on your project.

How do I apply for a Idea Riser?

Complete an online application form by Dec. 15. You will need to identify a faculty/staff sponsor on the application, so you’ll need to talk with your sponsor before completing the application.

Can teams apply for a Idea Riser?

Yes. If you want to work as a team on a project, that’s awesome. But you’ll only get one Idea Riser for that project. Idea Risers will be awarded per idea.

If you choose to work as a team, one person must be designated as the primary investigator for the project. This individual will be responsible for meeting all the deadlines and communicating with Idea Riser program staff. Ideally, teams between 2-4 members, or co-investigators, seem to work best.

Students listed as co-investigators on a project are allowed to apply for their own Idea Riser if it’s for an entirely different project. Remember, it’s one Idea Riser per idea.

How many Idea Risers can I get?

Students can be the primary investigator for only one Idea Riser per year. However, students can be co-investigators on more than one project.

What are the responsibilities of the faculty/staff sponsor?

All Idea Riser recipients are required to have a Radford University faculty or staff member sponsor their idea. The role of the sponsor is to make sure the idea or project has some basis in reality, and to provide you with guidance during your project. Learn more about sponsor expectations. You’ll identify your project sponsor when you complete the online application.

What if my project fails?

That’s okay. Failure is a natural part of making. It’s expected. The important thing is that you learn from these failures to better prepare for your next project. You will still be required to complete all the responsibilities of the Idea Riser - like regular updates and a presentation about what went wrong and how it could be fixed.

What kind of funds are in the Idea Riser?

The Idea Riser grants access to up to $300 in financial support for idea development.

What can I buy with Idea Riser funds?

The funds in the Idea Riser are to help make your idea a reality. Making it a reality will likely involve a lot of different things. These could include:

  • materials
  • tools / instruments
  • attending a workshop that costs money
  • purchasing specialized software


There’s no way for us to know what you’re going to need to build and refine your idea. To make it as simple as possible for you to get what you need, we’re giving you significant freedom with how you spend your funds. The Idea Riser application requires a brief budget (list of anticipated purchases) totaling up to $300. A purchasing contact will be assigned to each Idea Riser box recipient. The purchasing contact wlll guide you in purchase decisions and will enter the purchase orders to ensure conformity with state and Radord University purchase procedures. Purchases of illegal substances and weapons are prohibited with Idea Riser funds.

Who owns the stuff I buy for the project?

You maintain ownership of your idea and anything you build as part of this project. Any tools that you buy should be returned to the CITL (Walker Hall, 284) for use by other Radford University makers. Examples of tools that should be returned are: a soldering iron used to solder parts of your project, an oscilloscope to measure electrical signals, and a power drill to drill holes. We recognize there is a gray area in this definition, so please direct any questions about what should be returned to

What if I don’t use all the money alloted to the project?

That’s great - this project has limited funds, so any money you don’t use will go toward helping another Radford University maker build their idea.

What if I need equipment that isn’t in the Radford University Maker spaces?

Let us know. Equipment like soldering irons, 3d printers, CNC wood routers, drill presses and other traditional hand tools are available at Radford University. We can work with you to facilitate access to those tools in workshop and makerspace areas around campus. 

 If you need tools that are not available at these locations, you could use a portion of your funds to access other makerspaces in the region.

What are the requirements if I get an Idea Riser?

By taking an Idea Riser, you agree to fulfill the following requirements:

  • Present your findings/progress at the Student Engagement Forurm (Typically the third week in April).
  • Attend three 1-2 hour meetings throughout the Spring semester with other Idea Riser students.
  • Complete a post-project survey of your experiences with the Idea Riser program.
  • Complete a post-project blog post of your Idea Riser experiences for the Radford University Makers web site.


What if I don’t fulfill the requirements of the Idea Riser?

If you do not complete the requirements as outlined in this document, if you leave the project or Radford University University, or in the unlikely event you are asked to leave the project, you agree to return  ALL materials and tools to CITL ( within three business days. You may be held accountable for any unreturned items. You will also not be allowed to receive Idea Risers in the future.

Who selects the Idea Riser projects?

Idea Riser applications are reviewed by a team of Maker Faculty members, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning staff (CITL) and by select faculty members serving on the CITL Advisory Group.

What happens at the end of the project?

  • You’ll present your project during Student Forums during the end of April.
  • You’ll receive a Idea Riser certificate and a digital badge that you can use on Linkedin, online resumes, and other social media platforms.
  • You’ll be featured on the Radford University Maker website.
  • You are welcome to continue working on the project and refining it.


Where did Idea Riser come from?

Adobe originally developed Idea Riser as a way to inspire innovation among their employees. They have made the materials available for others to use for free. Elon University modified the projet to make it a better fit for university student makers, and we’ve modified their version to make it a better fit for Radford University.