Summer Updates and Fall News

To our student and faculty community, welcome back to school! The new academic year is an exciting opportunity to explore new opportunities for learning and to continue making change on campus.

It’s also a brand new year for the University Innovation Fellows program. We are quickly settling into our new home at Stanford University’s, after the mid-summer conclusion of the NSF-funded National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter).

What have we been up to over the summer?

  • In June, we hosted a workshop with a colleague from Google as a partner event of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit called “Hack Your Creative Culture.” Fellow and facilitator Alexandra Seda shares her experience at the workshop and stories of five entrepreneurs she met in this blog post (and see photos here).
  • In June, we also hosted sessions and the Fellows presented posters at the annual ASEE Conference in New Orleans (see photos here).
  • In July, we hosted the first Teaching and Learning Studio workshop for higher education teachers (see photos here). These workshops help educators experiment with new ways of engaging students using design thinking.
  • On September 6, we launched the orientation for our Fall 2016 training.
  • We’ve got a big international opportunity in the works. Stay tuned for the announcement!
Fellows spoke and facilitated a workshop at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford University in June 2016l

Fellows facilitated a workshop at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford University in June 2016.

What’s new this year?

  • The University Fellows Program has gone international! We’re accepting students from around the world.
  • We’re offering new workshops for higher education faculty and teaching staff called the Teaching and Learning Studio. The first workshop took place in July (see above), and additional workshops are planned in January 2017, June 2017 and July 2017. They are held at the and facilitated by the UIF program team and Fellows. Learn more here.
  • We’re handing over the reins of our Instagram feed to Fellows who are hosting events and taking part in some exciting venture. Find out what they’ve been up to this summer.
  • Our new home at the will provide our Fellows and faculty with lots of new opportunities for engagement. Stay on the lookout for new friends and resources.
Fellows and program leaders hosted the first Teaching and Learning Studio for faculty in July 2016.

Fellows and program leaders hosted the first Teaching and Learning Studio for faculty in July 2016.

What will continue as always?

  • Being a program of Stanford’s allows us to maintain the same mission and vision as we had with Epicenter and also provides us with new support from teaching experts and collaborators.
  • We will continue to place an emphasis on design thinking, entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity.
  • Applicants can be students from all majors and all levels of higher education (freshmen through PhD students).
  • We’ll hold two application and training cycles each year (next deadline is October 31, 2016).
  • We’ll host the annual Silicon Valley Meetup in the spring and Regional Meetups throughout the year (stay tuned for information on this year’s Regional Meetups).
  • There will be many opportunities for Fellows and faculty to join us at conferences and workshops around the world.
Fellows at the annual American Society for Engineering Education conference in June 2016

Fellows at the annual American Society for Engineering Education conference in June 2016.

Yes, we’ve got a lot going on, as we always do. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Want to get involved? Here are some ways you can join in the fun:

  • Share your updates with us. We want to bring you with us to events and conferences and feature your work on the UIF website (and the soon-to-launch new website). Once we know what you’re working on, we’ll know what opportunities to connect you with. Send us a quick note in this Google form.
  • Give our social media followers a look into the work you’re doing at your school. Email Katie to guest-post on the UIF Instagram channel. On Twitter? Include #uifellows or @uifellows on your tweets. 
  • If you’ve got a story burning at your fingertips, we have a UIF Medium channel, and we’d love to include your article. Email Laurie for more details.
  • Fellows, want to meet some new future friends and help out as a mentor? We’re looking for volunteers to help with several projects, including interviewing Spring 2017 candidates. Let us know in the UIF Volunteer Opportunities form.
  • Fellows: find out what your community is up to! Connect with all of us on Slack, the closed Facebook group, the google group, and subscribe to our blog.


From the UIF team, we love you all, and we continue to be immensely proud of the work you’re doing. You are making a lasting impact on your university and in the lives of your peers. It’s important work, and we’re so glad you’re doing it.

Your #UIFamily,

Humera, Leticia, Katie and Laurie

Online Information Session: April 12, 2016

April 18th Update: Video Recording of Info Session Now Available…


Interested in bringing the University Innovation Fellows program to your campus? Join our 30-minute info session.

The University Innovation Fellows program will host an online information session for interested students, faculty and leaders from across the U.S. and, for the first time, from around the world. This short session will highlight the impact of the program and key elements of how it works, through the voices and stories of current Fellows. The session will be recorded and shared afterwards on our application page.


To join, select from the following options:

1) Web Browser (easiest option)



2) Laptop paired with room system (best experience)

a) Dial: or in the room system.

b) Go to

c) Enter the pairing code displayed on your room system screen into your browser.


3) Room System

a) Dial: or in the room system.

b) Enter Meeting ID: 520023783 and Passcode: 1963


4) Joining via a mobile device?

a) Download the app from App Store or Google Play.

iPhone/iPad :

Android :

b) Enter event ID : yl79885


5) Phone

a) Dial one of the following numbers :

+1 (760) 699-0393 (US)

+1 (877) 305-0280 (US Toll Free)

See all numbers here:

b) Enter the participant PIN: 4099388194 followed by # to confirm.

Change Agents Activated

Students take the lead in the evolution of higher education at the University Innovation Fellows 2015 Annual Meetup. Originally posted via Epicenter

by Laurie Moore

At 8:00 pm on Saturday, February 21, the second day of the University Innovation Fellows 2015 Annual Meetup was drawing to a close. Nearly 160 Fellows from across the U.S. had just participated in a 12-hour day of activities at Stanford University, including a one-hour movement workshop, a self-guided tour of campus to discover innovation spaces, and a four-hour, five-session circuit of experiential activities.

They should have been tired.

Instead, they sang karaoke together. They danced. They played basketball outside in the warm (to the East Coasters) evening air. They made s’mores around a fire pit and told their favorite stories from the day. They took selfies and gathered in small groups to learn more about one another and their schools. When the buses came at 9:30 pm to take the students back to their hotels, they demanded one final karaoke song, and then another.

It was hard to believe that these University Innovation Fellows met for the first time as a community only 48 hours earlier.

The University Innovation Fellows program, run by Epicenter, offers training and support for students to become change agents at their schools. Through the training and ongoing support, Fellows learn to navigate their campus landscapes and create offerings that hone peers’ entrepreneurial mindsets and instill creative confidence.

Fellows on the last day of the Annual Meetup at Stanford's

Fellows on the last day of the Annual Meetup at Stanford’s

While many Fellows had met online during their intense 6-week video-conference-based training, the Annual Meetup allowed them to connect in person for the first time. Together, they had the opportunity to share experiences and insights from their schools, collaborate on new strategies for change in education, understand their role in this national movement, and learn from leaders in higher education and industry.

The Fellows at the 2015 Meetup were from two cohorts trained in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015. Also in attendance were 12 of the Fellows’ faculty sponsors, who who were invited to attend and participate alongside students as partners in achieving institutional change.

The Meetup was organized by the University Innovation Fellows program staff at Epicenter: Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, Humera Fasihuddin, Katie Dzugan and Laurie Moore. Eight Fellows assisted with the design and facilitation of the event and hosted several sessions: Atin Mittra, Meenu Singh and Valerie Sherry from the University of Maryland, College Park; Greg Wilson from the University of Georgia; Ryan Phillips from the University of Oklahoma; Bre Przestrzelski from Clemson University; Ben Riddle from Furman University; and new Fellow Bradley Dice from William Jewell College.


Rhythm of a Movement






The event spanned three days. The first day at Google was hosted by Frederik Pferdt, head of Innovation and Creativity Programs at Google. Activities included an inside look into Google X with Amanda Kelly, a design challenge in teams, a panel discussion with representatives from People Development at Google, a spaces tour, and a talk on Google for Entrepreneurs with Daniel Navarro.

The second and third days of the Meetup took place at Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design ( Sessions on Saturday included a leadership through movement session with Stanford Dance and Performance Arts instructor Aleta Hayes, an exploration of Stanford innovation spaces, a talk with Olga Dotter from Citrix on the intersection of lean startup and design thinking, a circuit of five experiential activities, and a workshop to help students create and facilitate similar activities at their schools.

Sunday activities included a panel with educators and students on new models of education, examples of campus initiatives from current Fellows, and a workshop on how students can accelerate change in higher education. Several special guests stopped by the meetup, including Stanford alumnus and violinist Kai Kight and author and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki.

Surprise guest: Kai Kight

Surprise guest: Kai Kight

At the end of the event, Fellows shared their insights from the event in the form of sticky note “bumper stickers” which they placed on a life-size, hand-painted University Innovation Fellows Volkswagen van. Examples included “Never give up,” “Think, Do, Fail, Learn,” “Innovation or Bust,” and “Be the change.”

After the three-day event ended, Fellows returned to their campuses. Their charge: to be the change they want to see in higher education.

Fellows Bus after creating bumper stickers.

Fellows Bus after creating bumper stickers.

More 2015 Annual Meetup materials and articles:

Talking With America’s Future: Removing Barriers, by Shawn Drury

Event photo gallery:

Meet the changemakers: map of student attendees at the University Innovation Fellows Annual Meetup 2015:


Purpose, Passion and the Quest for ‘Why?’: Today’s College Students Yearn to Make Sense of STEM

The Massachusetts STEM Summit, held October 22, 2014, had roughly 1,300 attendees at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts. Attendees traveled from across the state to discuss engaging k-12 students in science, technology, math, engineering and independent research. The University Innovation Fellows were invited to present in the afternoon. The following excerpt appeared in the MA STEM Summit program booklet. 

“Weed-em-out’ courses, dry lectures, rigorous math and an array of prerequisites stamp the love of learning out of young college students. Some universities are getting it right, but overall not so much. Fewer than 40% of students who enter college intending to major in a STEM field complete a STEM degree, according to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). Our nation needs us to produce one million more STEM college graduates than predicted. So, how do we, as K-12 educators, who care about the future of our most promising students, ensure a successful handoff to our collegiate counterparts? A new program called the University Innovation Fellows empowers college students to develop a culture of creativity and innovation. These students are developing strategies and learning opportunities that engage peers in project-based learning and human-centered design. The model of empowering students to develop their voice to serve as partners to faculty in bringing about institutional change has been a fruitful one, yielding innovation spaces, new courses and has even attracted alumni investment in new programs. University Innovation Fellows believe connecting high school graduates to a creative community of makers and innovators is the answer. Connecting freshman to learning opportunities that inspire students based on relevant and real-world problems as soon as they arrive at college is a means to keeping students engaged in STEM. As 168 Fellows at 85 schools work to expand and attract peers to innovation and entrepreneurship programs, the opportunity exists to create a bridge for high school students to a cool creative culture of like-minded students who can introduce and engage them in the innovation ecosystem. Recognized by the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, the University Innovation Fellows is a program of the Epicenter and is funded by the National Science Foundation. In this session, participants will be introduced to the work of two Fellows who also volunteer their time in local K-12 schools to inspire young STEM enthusiasts. Learn what triggered their interests in STEM and hear their recommendations for high schools to guide students towards successful STEM careers.

The session was moderated by the Fellows Senior Program Officer, Humera Fasihuddin. The two Fellows panelists were Ellery Addington-White and Kevin Desjardins (below).

Ellery Addington-White

Ellery Addington-White

Ellery is currently a senior at Beloit College in Wisconsin working to complete a Computer Science degree. He is actively involved in CELEB, the Center for Entrepreneurship in Liberal Education at Beloit. Find out more about his student priorities here.

Ellery became very interested in digital art in high school, which led him to teach the class to other students his junior year. He now volunteers his time to work with the Beloit Boys & Girls Club and other K-12 youth to make innovation, entrepreneurship, coding and computer science more accessible.



Kevin Desjardins, University of Massaschusetts, Lowell

Kevin Desjardins

Kevin is a senior at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. He is completing his degree in Civil Engineering and his taking his capstone project to the next level by creating an immersive, hands-on, project-based learning experience in Haiti. Find out more about his student priorities here.

Kevin has always had an interest in engineering. He works closely with Future Cities and other local organizations to bring underserved youth STEM education learning opportunities.





Hypothesis Affirmed! Greenville, SC Ignited By Southeastern Regional Meetup

Last week, we tested and affirmed a theory. Our hypothesis was that we could bring together a group of Fellows with other college students interested in creativity, innovation and design thinking and replicate the energy of our Annual Meetup at Google and Stanford at a place far from Silicon Valley. We chose Greenville, South Carolina. Why? Because of our star University Innovation Fellows who happen to be in that region… Ben Riddle of Furman University and Bre Przestrzelski of Clemson University, and their amazingly supportive faculty sponsors Ross McClain (Department Chair, Art, Furman) and John Desjardin (Faculty, Bioengineering, Clemson).

Ben and Bre’s work analyzing the Furman and Clemson Innovation & Entrepreneurship ecosystem informed their strategic plans to enhance that ecosystem (Furman Student Priorities, Clemson Student Priorities). They completed this work last year, over a 6-week WebEx-based program to become University Innovation Fellows and, as part of their training, flew to Google Headquarters and Stanford’s world-renowned (the Hasso Plattner Design Institute). Over three days, 88 Fellows from all over the nation soaked up the innovation culture in Silicon Valley and discussed ways to lead a movement in student innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship on their campuses (March 2014 agenda, and photos). The Annual Meetup was transformative; both Ben and Bre saw the opportunity to replicate the magic and attract peers on campus.

Again, why Greenville? Program leaders, over the year that followed, discovered just how cool of a community Greenville, SC is, as both Fellows reported back the success and overwhelming support they received from institutional and community leaders. Greenville has a strong history of public-private partnership dating back to the entrepreneurial Mayor Max, under whose leadership the city attracted a major Hotel Chain and narrowed a four-lane thoroughfare into the charming downtown Main Street filled with great restaurants, culture, art and more. So, when the pair invited Epicenter and its founders, Stanford University and VentureWell, to co-facilitate design thinking and lean startup sessions with local experts, program leaders enthusiastically agreed. Thus was born the plan for the…

Southeastern Regional Meetup, Hosted by Clemson University and Furman University

SEregionalsmallEpicenter organizers, University Innovation Fellow program leaders and Fellows flew in from California, Massachusetts, Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, New York and the Virgin Islands. Fellows drove from North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and even as far away as Michigan and Massachusetts! They were joined by 20 Furman and 20 Clemson students. All had one thing in common: a desire to learn the techniques of design thinking and lean startup, two approaches used to develop strong human-centered ideas and develop scalable business models around them. Using real-world issues from the Greenville community, students applied new-found techniques in observation, empathy, brainstorming, prototyping, customer segmentation & value proposition development.

Students developed low-resolution prototypes and articulated real opportunities to improve Greenville – a more friendly main street and redesigning the eating experience. Students learned by doing and they discovered that their entrepreneurial mindset could be honed on real-world challenges in their local community. On the flip side, community members saw students as motivated and capable individuals who bring a fresh-perspective and an open mind to arrive at highly innovative and achievable solutions to their challenges. One student openly remarked during the debrief, “I learned more this weekend than in the entire semester,” a sentiment often heard by many who first encounter hands-on and experiential learning opportunities. The mood at the reception with community and academic leaders was one you’d see at a sporting event, as evident by the Bear Ninja Cowboy video posted below. This kind of enthusiasm for learning can transform our nation’s higher education institutions. We look forward to replicating this success in Washington D.C. and at UMD on November 1st and 2nd, ringing in National Entrepreneurship Month with an invitation only Meetup for 100 University Innovation Fellows. More on that soon!

~ Humera Fasihuddin, Leader, University Innovation Fellows (on behalf of Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, Katie Dzugan & Laurie Moore)

A Big THANK YOU to our Collaborators and Supporters

We are extremely grateful to the many local community members, without whom, this past weekend would not have been possible:

Design Thinkers Group USA, especially Joel, Marc and Susan, for their tremendous efforts in co-designing and co-facilitating a two-day experiential learning experience with our colleague Leticia Britos Cavagnaro from Stanford.

John Desjarin, Clemson, for his awesome giant room-sized Business Model Canvas exercise, imparting Lean Startup skills to participants in an experiential way (and his moral support).

Ross Mclain, Furman, for forging an unprecedented partnership between a liberal arts institution and a major research university (and his moral support).

OpenWorks, for being so accommodating and allowing us to use their open work space for our activities on Friday (see agenda below).

Greenville Health System, especially to Robin, for joining us to discuss what you should never do in an interview — and making it funny.

Clemson MBA at ONE, for giving us access to their swanky new space on Main Street.

Also a special shout out to Envision SC, the Spiro Institute, Ten at the Top, SCBio and all of our additional facilitators and guests of honor.

Fellows Southeastern Regional Meetup Collaborators and Sponsors

Fellows Southeastern Regional Meetup Collaborators and Sponsors

Fellows Southeastern Regional Meetup Agenda

Fellows Southeastern Regional Meetup Agenda

Fellows Speak at White House

On September 24, 2014, two University Innovation Fellows went to the White House to address 60 leaders from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) who attended a half-day Maker Workshop. Two Fellows, Jaime Aribas Starkey-El of Morgan State and Ulysses Knight of Virginia State. Jaime spoke on a panel (see video) about his efforts to bring a maker space to Morgan. He also happens to be on the team of Fellows driving the Student IP Rights project (independent of Epicenter, Stanford or VentureWell) and was able to garner support and visibility for their efforts.

This is one in a series of followup events the White House is holding to leverage its first ever Maker Faire held this past summer. As part of that event, Tim McNulty, Vice President of Government Relations at Carnegie Mellon, gathered 150 signatures from University Presidents to commit to the development of Maker Spaces. HBCUs were largely absent from that list. That’s not OK. It is imperative that HBCUs are at the forefront helping lead the movement that has the potential to democratizing innovation, entrepreneurship and opportunity. The workshop was designed to make that case and introduce resources in support of the effort.


IMG_3029The day was designed to shed light on the power of the Maker Movement to educate. The Founder of Make Magazine and the increasingly popular events called ‘Maker Faire’, was an inspiring keynote speaker following Tom Khalil’s opening remarks. Our colleagues from the United College Negro Fund and the American Public Land-grant Universities discussed their efforts to expand Innovation & Entrepreneurship offerings at HBCUs. All three referred to their partnership with Epicenter, through the Fellows program. Tim McNulty expressed an interest in developing a community amongst the 150 signatories, much in the way Fellows have used community to acheive its change strategies on campus. Our colleague Craig Forest of Georgia Tech highlighted the success of the Invention Studio, an entirely free student-run maker space available to all majors for class projects or pet projects. Students have access to an array of equipment and also teach one another classes to acquire new skills.


University Innovation Fellows was up at bat again in the last half, with yours truly speaking on the a panel alongside TechShop, Maker Faire/Make Magazine and NSF’s HBCU-UP Program, as resources to help HBCUs get started. The audience was very receptive to the our message of using students to get traction on space and, more importantly, what goes on in the space. Design thinking workshops, lean startup events, challenges and other learning opportunities are the kinds of things that make the difference between a cool room and a vibrant student community. This strategy, along with the students completing the landscape canvas and networking campus stakeholder efforts together, has aided the university administration’s efforts to expand I&E on campus. Fellows created 22 innovation spaces last year alone, three that attracted additional funded by the institution in the millions of dollars as they demonstrated strong student engagement. A number of school committed to bringing on the University Innovation Fellows program that day. There were many highlights to the day, but my personal favorite was meeting Megan Smith, former executive with GoogleX and new Chief Technology Officer of the United States of America (pictured below). With her at the helm as CTO, we may just see some amazing ‘moonshot’ approaches to embedding the maker movement into all schools throughout the U.S.

~Humera Fasihuddin, University Innovation Fellows



Higher Education Maker Summit @ ASU, October 23-24

The University Innovation Fellows are excited to take part in the upcoming Higher Education Maker Summit. The event is the inaugural convening of 150 higher education institutions that recently committed to creating maker spaces, as part of the first-ever White House Maker Faire. Once realized, these maker spaces will provide thousands of people  access to the tools and skills that 21st century makers, creators, inventors and innovators need to be successful.

Fellows attending the event will speak to student-led strategies they’ve employed to create innovation spaces quickly and cheaply to begin innovation activities on campus. Often times this programming and community building has attracted the much-needed investment campuses need from alumni and state sources. Investment in student engagement strategies has had a profound affect in creating vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems. Attend this important Summit to learn more about strategies that University Innovation Fellows are employing to bring about these lasting ecosystem enhancements.

Read about our Berkeley University Innovation Fellows success in developing innovation spaces on this earlier blog post.

For more about the summit visit

– Humera Fasihuddin

Fellows Make Statements of Commitment at National Academy of Engineering, Washington D.C.

Ten University Innovation Fellows flew to DC this week and made a statement of commitment to organize students on their campus to address the Grand Challenges. These statements were delivered at a workshop entitled ‘Educating Engineers to Meet the Grand Challenges’ held at the National Academy of Engineering in Washington D.C. on May 1, 2014 (apologies for the grainy video).


The meeting was designed to identify best practices for preparing students to address the Grand Challenges. The meeting included a keynote address by Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation White House Office of Science & Technology Policy as well as panel discussion and breakout sessions with Academic, Program, Industry and Student Leaders. The intended result was a consortium of engineering schools committed to sharing practices for providing their students/members with an engineering education that includes elements such as learning through service, global perspectives, practical applications, entrepreneurship, and aspects of policy and human behavior.

Convening organizations:

National Academy of Engineering

Engineers Without Borders USA

Epicenter’s University Innovation Fellows Program and


For more information about this event, visit


White House Hosts STUDENT STARTUPS Hangout with #UIFellows Own Jared Karp & Shark Tank Hosts

November 23, 2013 – The video recording of the Student Startup Google Hangout is now available. Due to technical difficulties, they are in two parts. Watch the first video until just after 7:30, then switch to the second one to view the remainder of the session:

Here’s our favorite excerpt…


Q: Doug Rand, The White House: What kinds of projects do Jared’s friends get to work on in the innovation space and how can other universities get such an innovation space?

A: Jared Karp, University Innovation Fellows @  UC Berkeley: there are a ton of projects people work on. It is a free space for students to bring their own ideas and projects to the table, to recruit help from other talented individuals. For example sometimes students work on industry-sponsored projects or they design for a cause. One of my friends recently designed a water pump for farmers in India to replace high-cost diesel-powered water pumps, using capillary physics to generate water from a well and bring it up to the source. Other students work on fun projects such as video games like Campus Cart, which is a live mapping of your college campus and you use an RC car to drive around the levels that are made by your own environment. I actually made this (holding up device) … this is a mini MPC, which is a music production tool which fits onto the back of most cellular phones and you can export the files to your favorite music production software and make beats on the go. For those who are interested in connecting with BetaVersity (company that installs maker spaces at college campuses) or bring an innovation space on campus you can check out the website or as a student there are many ways to bring an innovation space to your campus without necessarily having to go through an external party (see wiki page:


November 22, 2013 – Today the White House hosted a #wethegeeks Google Hangout with our very own Jared Karp and Engineering Undergraduate student at University of California Berkeley. According to the White House blog, the live streamed online conversation will celebrate “the extraordinary stories of young entrepreneurs—students who, along with all the usual demands of pursuing a high school, college, or a graduate degree, are building companies today that are spreading homegrown ideas all over the world.”

Join us at 2pm ET here.

The blog goes on to say, “Two proven entrepreneurs featured on the popular TV show Shark Tank will join these student innovators to share lessons from their own entrepreneurial journeys”. Barbara Cochoran and Daymond John, two of the six sharks on the show, will be joined by Jared, three other college students and members of NIFTY, a program that inspires young people in low-income communities to stay in school, recognize business opportunities and plan for successful futures.

More about Barbara Cochoran and Daymond John…

Tweet questions using the hashtag #WeTheGeeks. See you at 2pm ET.

~ Humera Fasihuddin, Senior Program Officer, University Innovation Fellows