In August 2018, Kerrie Carden was named director of student ventures for FastForward U, Johns Hopkins’ hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. The 10,000-square-foot facility features tools, 3D printers, a 2,000-square-foot makerspace, and flexible meeting and work spaces. Open to all students, faculty, staff, and alumni, it served more than 1,000 students in 2018–2019—32 percent of whom were from the Krieger School.
1. What does FastForward U mean to the Hopkins community?
We are a centralized, easy-to-access way for any student—whether curious or committed—to get involved with innovation and entrepreneurship. Hopkins students have a long history of being creative and innovative and really standing as leaders, whether in a movement, campaign, initiative, or business. Our goal is to foster the skills to accelerate that process for students throughout their lives.
2. What impact do you hope FastForward has?
As with anything extracurricular, we offer an opportunity for students to take what they’re learning, and their unique perspective, and turn that into something that has the impact they want to have on the world. College, overall, is about building transferable skills to serve you all your life.
3. What have you noticed in your first year?
Hopkins students have drive and know-how, and they’re building incredible ventures. Entrepreneurship is often a hard and lonely road, so it’s important to have a community around you where you can be vulnerable.
4. What brought you to FastForward?
I moved to Baltimore in 2016 and got connected to JHTV [Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures, the translational arm of FastForward U] as a mentor. I love talking to people about what they’re doing and trying to help them with networking, product development, and sales strategy. When [my predecessor] was leaving this role, he suggested it to me and said, “this is something you’re already doing.”
5. What else do you want people to know?
There is no better time to try something. You have risk-free capital, a structured schedule, and a free and embedded resource that runs right alongside everything you do. Students can think of this almost like the athletic center; it’s included as part of being a student here. Any instance where you find yourself frustrated about something and you have a desire to change it, that’s an opportunity to engage with us.