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Entrepreneurial Mindset Leads to Eco-Friendly Innovation

What happens when an inventor’s ambitions are nurtured? A solution for cardboard waste disposal and stronger campus support networks are just the start.
Three students work together in workshop on invention.

Gabriel Fatade ’26 (center) at Invent@SU, where he helped design an eco-friendly shredder and pulper called The Boxer.  

If Gabriel Fatade ’26 gleaned anything from last summer’s Invent@SU program, it’s the realization that entrepreneurship is more than a skillset. “It’s also a mindset,” says the computer engineering major at Syracuse University. “Entrepreneurial thinking is about taking risks—seeing challenges as opportunities and growing from them.”

Gabriel Fatade in lab.

A computer engineering major, Fatade hopes to pursue a career in AI.

Fatade’s group clinched the second-place prize for The Boxer, an eco-friendly shedder and pulper. Learning that each person in the United States generates a pound of cardboard waste a day was the impetus behind the invention. “It’s one of the easiest, most common materials to recycle,” says Fatade, adding that the U.S. recycling rate for cardboard is more than 82%. “The Boxer saves water, energy and electricity, not to mention space in landfills.”

For Fatade, another takeaway from Invent@SU—aside from the $1,200 purse—was a better understanding of lifelong learning. “Our professors told us that our invention doesn’t stop here, that there are other places on campus, like Blackstone LaunchPad, that can open doors for us. All we need to do is to keep moving forward.”

Discovering Syracuse: Gabriel Fatade's Unexpected Journey to a Beloved Campus

Fatade was barely a teenager when he first visited Syracuse with his brother. The Atlanta native didn’t know much about the University—or college life, for that matter—but the warm, inviting atmosphere intrigued him. “Everyone smiled at me as I walked around,” Fatade recalls. “That’s when I fell in love with Syracuse.”

Gabriel Fatade works in lab.

Fatade was among some 30 students at Invent@SU who designed, prototyped and pitched original devices.

College of Engineering and Computer Science Nurtures the Ambitions of a Future AI Expert

Pursuing a career in artificial intelligence, Fatade is a rising star in the College of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS). Credit his professors for giving him hands-on learning opportunities while taking a genuine interest in his academic development. “I’m learning how to apply my knowledge to real-world scenarios,” says Fatade, a part-time IT consultant who is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. “Everyone here wants me to succeed.”

Three students holding large prize money check.

“Syracuse University invests in me every step of the way,” says Fatade (center), whose team won the $1,200, second-place prize for The Boxer.

Holistic Support Paves a Path to Personal and Academic Excellence

Fatade also appreciates the University’s holistic approach to student success and engagement. In ECS, he has a trio of professionals—a student success advisor, a career advisor and a faculty advisor—who “support and mentor” him inside and outside of the classroom. “Syracuse University invests in me every step of the way, making sure that I’m the best student I can be,” Fatade says. “I am proud to be myself."

Fatade and team present together at InventSU.

Fatade (right) credits the University for instilling in him an entrepreneurial mindset. “I see challenges as opportunities and grow from them.”

To Build Stronger Community, Fatade Is Committed to Inclusivity

Community-building is important to Fatade, who is a second-generation Nigerian American. His favorite spots on campus include the Schine Student Center and the Barnes Center at The Arch—great for unwinding, socializing and networking, he says. In addition to esports and intramural soccer, Fatade participates in the African Student Union and Black Student Union. “Having a safe space lets me and my friends be stronger and closer together.”

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