Innovation and Determination

University Innovation Fellow Atin Mittra led a service learning trip to the Dominican Republic’s Barrio Blanco and learned a lesson about determination in the process.

by Atin Mittra
University Innovation Fellow, University of Maryland College Park

Atin Mittra (left) with members of his design team during their spring trip to Barrio Blanco in the Dominican Republic.

As I embarked to lead an Alternative Spring Break trip to the Dominican Republic, I had no idea the next week would be a life changing experience.

The community we worked in was called Barrio Blanco, named after the man who started the community, Blanco. Blanco is around sixty years old, but his passion for maintaining the barrio makes him move like he’s twenty-five. A small neighborhood hidden away in the bustling tourist attraction of Cabarete, Barrio Blanco represents the determination of community organizers to withstand gentrification. The wealth and abundance that kissed the beachside resorts didn’t make it to the barrio. In fact, half a mile from the five star restaurants, people were walking on unpaved streets covered in trash.

The three service projects our group focused on were teaching children at the DREAM school, painting a mural on the entrance of the neighborhood, and making mobile garbage cans. The mobile trash can project was primed for the design thinking process.

The Problem: The entrance to the community was a quarter mile long with two cinderblock walls on either side. The opening was only wide enough for one large truck. The side streets were far too narrow for the truck to make its way around so the residents could either carry their garbage to the truck or throw it out in front of their house. By and large people chose the latter. As a result, trash lay undisturbed, free to enjoy the Dominican sun. Unfortunately, trash leaked into the nearby lagoon behind the houses, contaminating the water and causing health concerns for the residents. Upon learning about design thinking from the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UMD, my co-trip leader and I quickly introduced the methodology into our facilitation identifying potential benefits of using it in a social context. I had hoped to give my twelve participants tools such as design thinking that would allow them to more easily tackle large-scale problems after the trip, a process known as activation.

The Task: Design and build eight mobile trash cans which can be pulled on unpaved, uneven streets and be light enough for children to pull.

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Young-Ju and Atin measuring wheel placements

The Process: First, we observed. I jotted some preliminary ideas for the frame and wheel placement after our work was finished each day. I pulled two participants who displayed interest in the design process to help, Taylor and Young-Ju. It was imperative for both of them to share their opinion during the prototype and test phase. At first, both were hesitant to give their input. After relentlessly insisting they share their ideas, Young-Ju exclaimed, “I don’t know, I’m not an engineer like you, you know what you’re doing.” I was both shocked and relieved. Shocked because it felt like I was finally breaking through timid Young-Ju’s shell and relieved because this was something that I could tell was on both of their minds. “What does engineering have anything to do with this, we just need to solve a problem,” I explained turning the focus on the task at hand.

From that point on, they both opened up throughout the design process.

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Team members attach a frame to a trash can

After numerous trips to the hardware store and shipping parts in fromPuerto Rico, we were finally ready to build all eight trash cans on our last day of service. It started at noon. To start building we created a six-person team. The inconsistent electricity made it difficult to make progress and it seemed like everything was standing between us and our goal. Through sheer determination we pushed forward. As people in the community saw us working, they began coming out of their houses to offer help. A group of men who ran a hardware business nearby stopped working in order to make sure we were adequately equipped to finish the project. Timid Young-Ju who had once held her tongue when asked her opinion now had no problem barking orders at other participants to ensure they were building the frames correctly. Wiping sweat away from my sleep deprived eyes, for a minute I observed at what was happening around me. There were at least a dozen people helping in some capacity now in an assembly line type fashion. My original design team acted as quality assurance. We even brought in someone else from the community to weld handles onto the sides of the can.

The schedule said to end work at 4:30 and head to a nice dinner on the beach, but we couldn’t leave until the job was finished. We finished the last can at 7:00pm as the sun forfeited its position above. Even though we were all battling heat exhaustion, sickness, and sleep deprivation, all ailments were buried the moment we finished. Accomplishment and satisfaction coagulated with the cool Dominican air. It felt like we just won the Super Bowl, everyone was in visible ecstasy. The community leaders invited us back the next day to give a proper thank you/goodbye.

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Seven of the completed trash cans

The next evening we entered the barrio making the long walk to the school one last time. As soon as we began walking down the entrance, we heard the pitter patter of running children and in the distance tiny voices yelling “they’re here! they’re here!” in Spanish followed quickly by the muffled thuds of them running into and embracing us with their small arms. They guided us to the school where leaders of the community and kids alike prepared speeches for us. They praised us for the work we did but most of all for caring about the barrio. Everywhere I turned all I heard was “nunca te olvidare” (I will never forget you). I was blown away that people we had no idea existed just five days prior were now telling us we changed their lives. I couldn’t describe the way it felt when I heard the work I did impacted someone’s life. It was the greatest high I’ve ever felt. I ducked out of the party early to look at the trash cans one last time before we left.

As I headed back to our work site, I saw Blanco sitting there alone as if he knew I was coming. I looked up from Blanco’s silhouette to see all the garbage cans were gone. “Where are the garbage cans, Blanco?” I asked. In a calm voice he told me if I wanted to see them again, I’d have to walk around the whole community because they had already been put to use. I was speechless. Not even twenty-four hours after we finished the project, they were already serving their purpose. It was incredible to think through engineering and design thinking we were able to build something that would help this group of people we grew to love.

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The final assembly team poses after finishing all eight trash cans

At times engineering can be nebulous and my mind would lay burdened by theory and formulas in class, but I wouldn’t have been able to help the residents of Barrio Blanco if not for those classes. It was amazing to be able to apply things from class to the real world and make a difference. It was also rewarding to be able to demystify engineering and design to non-STEM majorswho found instant utility from its principles. I will never forget how happy the residents of Barrio Blanco were. Our closeness to the community greatly aided the human centered piece of our design process. Not only did we want what we built to be used, but we cared so deeply about our friends in the barrio, that nothing but the best was acceptable. If you’re passionate enough about a project and you remain resolutely determined on achieving the goal, nothing can stop you.

Atin Mittra Atin Mittra is a student at the University of Maryland, College Park majoring in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Technology Entrepreneurship, graduating in 2014. he is passionate about social entrepreneurship and understanding social trends. Atin is also the Founder and Executive Director of MADE Microfinance, a non-profit that aims to build financial literacy and assets for people who are rejected by the traditional banking industry.

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
http://www.engineeringchallenges.org
http://www.grandchallengescholars.org

Engineers Without Borders USA
http://www.ewb-usa.org

Epicenter’s University Innovation Fellows Program
http://epicenter.stanford.edu and
http://www.dreamdesigndeliver.org

EPICS
https://engineering.purdue.edu/EPICS

For more information about this event, visit http://www.nae.edu/102159.aspx

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Congratulations Spring 2014 Fellows!

We are pleased to announce the launch of to 66 University Innovation Fellows from 45 U.S. campuses! A complete list of students is below. University Innovation Fellow bios, campus profiles and strategic priorities can be found on the student universityinnovation.org wiki here: http://universityinnovationfellows.org/wiki/University_Innovation_Fellows_Program.

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Epicenter University Innovation Fellows – Press Release April 2014.

 

For Immediate Release
(April 9, 2014)

Media contact:
Laurie Moore
Communications Specialist, Epicenter
(650) 561-6113
llhmoore@stanford.edu

66 U.S. Students Named University Innovation Fellows by NSF-Funded Epicenter

(April 9, 2014) — Sixty-six university students from 45 higher education institutions across the United States have been named University Innovation Fellows by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter).

The University Innovation Fellows are a network of student leaders working to create lasting institutional change that will increase student engagement with entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, design thinking and venture creation. The program is part of a national movement to help all students gain the attitudes, skills and knowledge required for them to compete in the economy of the future.

The new cohort of Fellows brings the total number to 110 Fellows at 78 schools in the U.S. The program is run by Epicenter, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA).

“It is no longer enough for engineering students to graduate with a purely technical education,” said Tom Byers, Director of Epicenter and Professor at Stanford University. “Whether they start their own companies or join established organizations, engineers need to have an entrepreneurial mindset to identify and seize opportunities, bring their ideas to life, and solve global problems.”

The program offers undergraduate students in engineering and other fields the guidance and support to become agents of change on their home campuses. The Fellows have made it their mission to expand the number and quality of resources available to students and to advocate for necessary advancements with external advisory boards, trustees and institutional leaders.

Fellows are sponsored by faculty and administrators at their schools and selected through an application process each spring and fall. Following acceptance into the program, students complete six weeks of online training, during which they connect with their new network of Fellows, examine their current entrepreneurial ecosystems and formulate action plans for their ideas.

At their schools, Fellows have founded entrepreneurship clubs and organizations, worked with faculty to create courses, hosted events and workshops, and created student design and maker spaces. Read more about their activities at epicenter.stanford.edu/story/engineers-take-action-university-innovation-fellows.

“University Innovation Fellows help their peers complement their coursework with interdisciplinary projects that build on their passions, career goals and desire to make a real impact in the world,” said Humera Fasihuddin, leader of the University Innovation Fellows program for Epicenter and Senior Program Officer at NCIIA.

“Students are capable of honing their leadership abilities by leveraging creativity, design thinking and an entrepreneurial mindset to solve problems on campus, in the local community and around the globe – all while still enrolled in school,” Fasihuddin continued. “These experiences give students a highly competitive edge in the job market because they are able to demonstrate the ability to bring products and services to market.”

The Fellows gathered in Silicon Valley March 20-22, 2014, for their annual meeting, where they took part in immersive experiences at Google, Stanford University and NCIIA’s Open Conference. Fellows participated in workshops and exercises focused on design thinking, creativity, brainstorming and team building. They engaged with entrepreneurs and leaders from Google, Google Ventures, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Design for America, 3 Day Startup, StartX and many others.

Learn more about the University Innovation Fellows program and learn how to apply at epicenter.stanford.edu/university-innovation-fellows.

About Epicenter:

The National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter) is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA). Epicenter’s mission is to empower U.S. undergraduate engineering students to bring their ideas to life for the benefit of our economy and society. To do this, Epicenter helps students combine their technical skills, their ability to develop innovative technologies that solve important problems, and an entrepreneurial mindset and skillset. Learn more, and get involved at epicenter.stanford.edu.

Spring 2014 Fellows

University Innovation Fellows Manifesto from Epicenter on Vimeo.

UIF Manifesto Image

Manifesto

Manifesto-template-events (Microsoft Word)

Letter to Larry Page

Microsoft Word - Letter to Larry Page - LM.docx

April 7, 2014

Larry Page
1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy
Mountain View, CA 94043

Dear Mr. Page,

We are writing to you on behalf of a group of over 100 student leaders from around the country to express our support for Paul Polak’s ambitious challenge to Google to help end poverty.

We are the University Innovation Fellows. We believe that poverty can be ended, and we are thrilled with the opportunity that Mr. Polak has presented you. By taking on this challenge, Google can help change the lives of over 100 million people, and can inspire millions more to address one of the world’s greatest challenges in a revolutionary way.

We do believe, though, that time is of the essence. By responding to this moonshot challenge now, Google can bring a spirit of optimism to the global community and spur a grassroots movement of innovation that spreads around the world. Too often, compelling ideas aren’t ever brought to life due to a lack of funding or problems with scaling. Google could address this challenge head on by paving the way for innovators to invest their time and talents in designing better solutions rather than writing grant proposals.

How many moonshot-sized ideas lie dormant inside the minds of people who have limited access to technology and resources? By focusing on access to education, healthcare and technology, Mr. Polak is offering simple solutions that will equip people with the tools and skills with which they can not only survive, but begin working creatively toward solutions of global consequence.

Many of us had the opportunity to meet Mr. Polak at the NCIIA OPEN Conference after spending time at Google and meeting with partners from Google Ventures. We were inspired by his message, which is why we are dedicating our time and talents to the effort of ending poverty in our lifetimes. In light of your mission to increase access to the world’s information, we invite you to join us in helping the world attain the basic means to access it, and we would gladly contribute anything we could towards coordinating such an effort.

The future depends on us. The time is now.

Sincerely,

The University Innovation Fellows

The University Innovation Fellows are part of a national movement to ensure that students gain the necessary attitudes, skills and knowledge required for them to compete in the economy of the future. These student leaders from schools around the country work with their peers to catalyze innovation and venture activity on their campuses. Our program is sponsored by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), which is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA).

DOWNLOAD PDF: UIF Letter to Larry Page

Pinning Ceremony

On March 20-22, 88 students from across the U.S. descended on Silicon Valley in California for our University Innovation Fellows (UIF) Meetup 2014. Over the course of three days, we convened at Google, Stanford University and OPEN 2014 to participate in an action-oriented, highly-engaging agenda (which was shared here a few days back). These 88 students comprised of elders, current Fellows, and new Candidates of the UIF program who are completing their training this week.

This event marked the first meeting of the Fellow Candidates and allowed them to forge partnerships with students from neighboring schools, find peers who were interested in the same opportunities, and create lasting friendships.

At the meetup, we recognized the University Innovation Fellows in our previous cohorts, who have already been incredibly active at their campuses. These students have put in tremendous amounts of work. They took part in 6 weeks of demanding training sessions last fall and spring that included researching strategic resources, interviewing other Fellows to learn from their activities, analyzing their campus ecosystems, learning about what students on campus want to see, and combining all of their new knowledge into a strategic vision to deploy on their campuses. This amazing group of talented, smart students have put in countless hours to engage students on their respective campuses to take interest in innovation and entrepreneurship and empower other students to harness their ideas and take control of their learning.

Below are students from our 2013 fall and spring cohorts.


Back row (from left): Dean Tate (Texas A&M), Brian Rhindress (UPitt), Valerie Sherry (UMD College Park), Mary Wilcox (ASU Tempe), Breanne Przestrzelski (Clemson), Brittany Wouden (WSU), Gregory Wilson (University of Georgia), Jennifer Mayo (Oklahoma State), Yifan Ge (Bucknell), Derek Dashti (Tulane)
Front row (from left): Katelyn Stenger (Rose-Hulman), Graham Leslie (Texas A&M), Terrence Agbi (NYU Polytechnic), Nate Smialek (UPitt), Ellery Addington-White (Beloit), Chen Cui (University of Iowa), Nolan Nicholson (University of Nevada, Reno), Andrew Dalman (North Dakota State)
Not pictured, but present at the Meetup: Jared Karp (UC Berkeley), Sharang Phadke (Cooper Union), Jack Goodwin (UC San Diego), Karuna Relwani (UPitt)

On the afternoon of March 21, we called these 18 Fellows up on stage, and symbolically welcomed them into our program by presenting them with Epicenter pins. We asked they choose a Candidate Fellow from the audience with whom they recently bonded to “pin them” (see below).


Front (left): Jorge Sanchez (ASU at the Polytechnic Campus); (right): Nolan Nicholson (University of Nevada, Reno)
Back (left): Kelly Thomas (UVA); (right): Brittany Wouden (WSU)

Each Fellow from the 2013 cohort now wears this pin with pride:

Congratulations to these students for tackling their learning needs and inspiring others to harness their creativity in order to make the world a better place! They represent a diverse group of leaders who will continue to inspire our up-and-coming generations.

Our Candidate Fellows will be finishing their training at the end of this week and we will acknowledge their efforts by presenting them with Epicenter pins in the very near future. The optimism and hope illustrated by this group of Fellows and the Candidate Fellows is remarkable. We are training groups of Fellows every semester. To host a University Innovation Fellow at your campus, apply today. Our fall deadline is September 8, 2014.

We truly believe students will change the world. Our nation needs us. The time is now.

 

 By: Katie Dzugan, Program Associate, University Innovation Fellows

Manifesto: We Believe Students Can Change The World

Fellows are boldly proclaiming that all peers across campus should engage in innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and creativity as a means to make a difference in the world and enhance every individual’s potential leadership abilities. They are declaring this to be a movement. Inspired by a deeper calling to advance their campus innovation ecosystem and strengthen the future economic prospects for their peers on campus, Fellows have put forth this Manifesto as rallying cry for others, across organizations and academic disciplines, to join them in this cause.

Thoughts From UIFs

“The fulfilling thing about being a University Innovation Fellow is that the experience doesn’t end on the last day. Humera helped us create the inventory of resources and network that got us started. Now, I’ve built relationships at my university and in industry so I can give back to my peers and future students by contributing to a strong innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem on my campus.”

Graham Leslie is studying Computer Science at Texas A&M, Class of 2015. For more information, visit Graham’s Student Profile Page.

INTRODUCING: Leadership Circle pilot

PLEASE NOTE: This article was posted during the Leadership Circle pilot in spring 2014, so the information contained may be outdated. For all current information, see the Info for Students and Info for Faculty pages. 

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie

University Innovation Fellows are rocking it! In a survey of 28 Fellows last Spring, students reported holding events, convening workshops, serving on faculty advisory committees, building maker spaces and creating venture funds. These Fellows reached over 9,000 other students. What was our biggest a-ha moment in studying these students’ success? Fellows who built the strongest teams were able to scale their efforts and create a structure that created lasting institutional impact.

That’s why we’re piloting a new program for the Spring 2014 cohort called the Leadership Circle. The Leadership Circle will allow up to 5 candidates to go through the 6-week University Innovation Fellows training together. Together, they’ll discover the assets and resources on their campus, contrast their ecosystem with others around the nation and arrive at new approaches to reach and engage students in activities that enhance their entrepreneurial mindset.  Supporting one another, and supported by a national network of peers, they’ll creatively experiment with strategies that ultimately achieve results despite the inertia that may exist in many of our environments.

We are calling for a team of interdisciplinary students including engineering and non-engineering students that stem from different class years (i.e., freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate, Ph.D.) to apply today. Here’s what you need to know:

For future candidates:

1.   Recruit like-minded peers who are willing to serve as change agents to help expose fellow students to more hands-on, experiential and entrepreneurial learning opportunities. Working alongside one-another in the 6-week training, you’ll not only feel more confident and empowered, but you’ll have more fun in a shared training-experience;

2.  Have team members complete the student application and gather their Faculty/Dean letters of support;

3.  Find one Faculty Sponsor to submit the faculty application. The fee remains at the same $2,000 rate and includes a travel stipend for one Fellow to attend OPEN 2014. All five teammates are welcome to attend and we encourage you to raise additional funding to make this possible. To complete the request to participate in this pilot, the Faculty Sponsor is required to submit a letter of support from the College or University President (or Vice President / Vice Chancellor / Vice Provost).

For future and current faculty sponsors:

1. Pick your students. If you have trouble picking just one driven, passionate student that seeks to change the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem on your campus, you now have the ability to tap 5 student change agents.  And, if you are having trouble thinking of 5 students, just ask the one or two students whom you have identified to scout out prospects within their network or reach out to faculty and staff members around your campus;

2. Have the students complete their student applications and gather their faculty letters of support (not necessarily from the same faculty member);

3. Complete your Faculty Sponsorship application. In this pilot phase, we are not increasing the fee from $2,000, but rather requiring you to secure a letter of support from the College or University President. Check the box indicating the willingness for your campus to be selected for the Leadership Circle pilot. Note: The team will need to peer select which delegate will be sent to the OPEN 2014 conference in San Jose (March 19-22) or raise additional funding to send multiple teammates.

For current UI Fellows:

If you completed training and are a full-fledged UI Fellow (congrats!) that seeks to build a team, you may find student peers that want to join your mission. Start talking to students and your faculty sponsor about putting a new team of candidates through this spring training. Think about what you could accomplish with 5 new team members that have the opportunity to participate in the same training! Refer new teammates to the steps above, under ‘For Future Candidates’.

 To recap:

  • Each student must complete a student application, which they can request here. Each student must provide a faculty letter of support. If participating as a team, these letters of support do not need to be from the same faculty member.

  • ONE faculty sponsor must complete the faculty application, which can be requested here , where they can also pay the training fee. Please make sure to check the box that indicates your interest in the Leadership Circle and that you plan to send a President or VP-level letter of support.

If you have further questions, please post them below so we can share the Q&A with other visitors. We will respond in a timely manner. If you would like to speak to someone directly, please contact Humera Fasihuddin at humera@venturewell.org or Katie Dzugan at kdzugan@venturewell.org.  We are looking forward to a great spring cohort!

Thoughts From UIFs

“The UIF training was hands-down one of the most beneficial programs in
which I have participated during my time in undergrad. Training isn’t a
learning experience rather, an eye-opening one. UIF mentors taught us how
to log, chart, evaluate, and predict events on our campuses and use them
to create unique opportunities for ourselves and our peers. Aside from
the landscape evaluation, the network of like-minded individuals has
provided us all with a valuable resource – each other. By speaking to one
another and sharing ideas and experiences we were able to learn from our
successes and failures and build strong programs in our respective
universities. I plan on continuing my active status in the organization
and recommend it, without reservation, to anyone interested in joining the
entrepreneurial movement.” – Nathan Smialek

Nathan Smialek is a Junior at the University of Pittsburgh studying Bioengineering. For more information, visit Nathan’s Student Profile page.

White House Features University Innovation Fellows

Today, University Innovation Fellows launched a new wiki platform at http://www.universityinnovation.org for students to share information and best practices about innovation and entrepreneurship at their schools. The wiki provides student leaders in academia with resources and how-to strategies for enhancing the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem on campus. Information on courses and programs also enables students on campus to find resources to advance their skills in topics such as creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, commercialization, technology translation and venture development.

White House Blog Mentions UI Fellows program and wiki.

White House Blog Mentions UI Fellows program and wiki.

The launch of the wiki coincides with the release of the report, “The Innovative and Entrepreneurial University: Higher Education, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Focus,” published by the Department of Commerce. Eleven ‘deep dives’ into innovative and entrepreneurial universities provide best practices for fostering innovation and entrepreneurship by supporting student and faculty entrepreneurship, university-industry collaboration, technology transfer and regional economic development. The data shared by the Department of Commerce report are now accompanied by 21 deep dives completed by University Innovation Fellows.

Celebrating the release of the report during the Presidentially-declared Entrepreneurship Month, the White House issued this blog post recognizing the University Innovation Fellows, Epicenter and the launch of the wiki.

~ Humera Fasihuddin, @ihumera

Senior Program Officer, University Innovation Fellows.

Innovation Activist?

Searching for a partner-in-crime to be my Associate for this growing student movement.

New position: Associate, University Innovation Fellows

New position: Associate, University Innovation Fellows

This is a new position, a description for which is available at http://nciia.org/jobs/. Action-oriented, organized, go getters who are passionate about empowering young people to pursue opportunities to create and innovate in college should email jobs@nciia.org to apply.

~Humera Fasihuddin, @ihumera

Senior Program Officer, University Innovation Fellows

Essential Reads for Engineers and their Peers

By Elliot Roth

This is a list compiled by the University Innovation Fellows of life-changing books. Each is a wonderful exposition into different facets of innovation and entrepreneurship. I’ve been working my way through this list, and have learned amazing lessons that have changed my perception on innovation, creativity, leadership and my journey as a student entrepreneur.

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IMG_9177By Elliot Roth is a Junior in Biomedical Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University. His interests are myriad and include slam poetry, music, international jewel thievery, being an EMT, and writing incredible articles as a Student Ambassador. You can reach him at rothet@vcu.edu and follow him on twitter @rothet

University Innovation Fellows, CEO, Kairos Society… What’s the difference?

How are University Innovation Fellows different from all other student networks? There is one BIG fundamental difference:

University Innovation Fellows care about enhancing the innovation ecosystem on campus.

They care about lasting institutional change that benefits the students’ educational experience. They care about leaving a legacy on their campus.

They are entrepreneurial, but they CARE enough about their peers, society and their alma mater to be a leader and expend the time it takes to change an institution that is very slow to change… the academic institution. That’s what makes them different from the person that only cares about their own personal success/venture.

University Innovation Fellows (UI Fellows) organize the demand-side … the students … and are making the academic experience more relevant so that engineers are productive citizens doing meaningful work that benefits society and is lucrative at the same time. They care about their generation not being unemployed, camped out in another #occupywallstreet demonstration. They are leading a movement on their campuses because students who thinking entrepreneurially, working on innovation projects with Engineers and their interdisciplinary peers, will be more likely to transition effectively to the workforce. These students will be more apt to solve the problems they WANT to solve versus the ones dictated by prevailing corporate R&D interests. They’ll be in the drivers seat of their careers, ‘taking back’ their future, ‘taking back’ our economy, ‘taking back’ the direction of society by producing citizens able to imagine a different world and invent it and make it happen. To Dream. Design. Deliver. what our planet needs.

UI Fellows might work catalyzing maker spaces, venture funds, incubators, 1,000 person TEDx events, Startup Weekend, design team formation, the addition of a CEO club or a Kairos chapter… All of these organization add value. All of them speak to a unique market segment on campus. UI Fellows and their team might work to bring each one to their campus. It doesn’t matter what it is so long as it enhances the innovation ecosystem and fills a gap that is presently inhibiting the production of entrepreneurially-minded students and ventures.

If you have a resource, cub, fellowship, association or program that our University Innovation Fellows should be aware of, check out our CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS to include it in our Partners Directory. Being in it will instantly give you access to a network of bright students who care about plugging your resource to their campus constituents. Apply by August 31st, 2013.

~Humera Fasihuddin, @ihumera

Senior Program Officer, University Innovation Fellows

(Pictured above: UI Fellows listen to Google’s Head of Innovation after tour of its global headquarters during Stanford E-Week 2012.)

Welcome to the brand new home of the University Innovation Fellows Program!

new*** NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR FALL TRAINING: We are searching for 27 University Innovation Fellows to join current team of 33. Deadline for Fall Training is September 16th. APPLY NOW. ***

Welcome to the brand new home of the University Innovation Fellows Program! So much has changed, where to we begin? Let’s start from the top:

  • First, the name University Innovation Fellows (UI Fellow) refers to the students who we train and groom to lead the movement on their campuses. This retires the name that gave us our start back in 2010, the Student Ambassadors Program… no offense to all you other Student Ambassadors out there, there are just way too many of you representing anything from software to consumer products. We wanted a name that conveyed the leadership qualities our students embody and conveys the prestige that comes with it. The new name also says a little bit more about what they do, which is to work to enhance the innovation ecosystem on campus. Learn more.
  • We are excited to announce that our application for Fall Training is now live! We are seeking 27 bright new students to join our team of 33 to bring us to 60 University Innovation Fellows for the 2013-2014 academic year. Learn more about the advantages of becoming a UI Fellow and of having one on your campus here.
  • Next, the new website address dreamdesigndeliver.org … University Innovation Fellows are inspiring students to ‘Dream. Design. Deliver.’ new solutions to the world around them. This is a call for engineers and their interdisciplinary peers to think creatively, invent and adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. So, if your campus is selected to have a University Innovation Fellow, you’ll likely see cool-looking students sporting fabulous T-shirts that urge students on campus to ‘Dream. Design. Deliver.’ along with them in a movement that will sweep their campus and the nation.
  • Finally, you’ll notice a lot of great new content written by University Innovation Fellows. These from-the-trenches perspectives on catalyzing student innovation on campus, tools and resources that hone the entrepreneurial mindset and examples of institutional change. This is the place you’ll learn how the actions of two students and their team helped land $20 million to fund a design institute. You’ll hear one University Innovation Fellow strategy of creating something every day to hone his creativity skills. And occasionally other contributors, from staff to students at large, will share lists of seed funding sources or free online courses that strengthen your innovation skills. You’ll want to make sure you follow this blog by email so you don’t miss anything. Just follow the link on our home page and make it so.

We’re really excited about some important enhancements to the University Innovation Fellows program and the plans in place for the year ahead! You’ll see a lot more coming from us in the next few months. We want this movement to bring together campus changemakers. Innovation and the entrepreneurial mindset are the way forward for us personally and as a nation and it will take ALL OF US pulling in the same direction to make it happen. Join us, either as a University Innovation Fellow or join us as a collaborator. We would love make students aware of the opportunities, resources and tools you offer to help strengthen the campus ecosystem. Join us!

You can contact me at humera at nciia dot org or post your comments below!

~ Humera Fasihuddin, @ihumera

Senior Program Officer, University Innovation Fellows.

*** NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR FALL TRAINING: We are searching for 27 University Innovation Fellows to join current team of 33. Deadline for Fall Training is September 16th. APPLY NOW. ***

Three Critical Remote Leadership Skills I Learned as a University Innovation Fellow

Three Critical Remote Leadership Skills I Learned as a University Innovation Fellow

(Useful, since my cofounder lives 500 miles away!)

By Blake Margraff

Note: These thoughts and stories, and whatever messages or lessons they may convey, are not limited to the experiences of University Innovation Fellows (formerly Student Ambassadors Program). Perhaps one of the most significant strengths of the University Innovation Fellowship is its ability to quite accurately simulate student entrepreneurship; the two are not mutually exclusive!

Part I: Accessibility keeps a team transparent and energized (as long as you have well-established limits!)

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????During my trip to the Stanford d.school following the University Innovation Fellow training, I remember Elliot Roth (read his articles!) turning to me and excitedly saying, “I love it when my team sends me emails.” This simple statement is more profound than it might seem at first. Elliot, a strong leader and budding entrepreneur, inadvertently hit upon one of the most important pillars of remote leadership: keep yourself accessible! By receiving and (if necessary) acting upon the emails we receive, leading a team suddenly becomes quite rewarding, even invigorating, and the benefit is mirrored right back onto the team itself.

However, as with most habits, accessibility in moderation is the best bet. If you’re getting calls and “urgent” emails in the wee hours of the morning on a daily basis, the simple solution is to establish working hours. Mine are from 7:30am to 11:00pm in whatever time zone I’m currently living. I can hear it now: “Blake, you crazy fool, I’ll never receive that many emails! And certainly not at those hours!” My only advice–wait and watch. As you pursue more exciting and intense projects and even companies, you’ll need to balance new parameters within your life. On that note, a few tips!

Three tips to make it happen:
1. Understand your smartphone’s “notifications” settings. Many a missed Skype call can be chalked up to the wrong alert preference. Other side of the coin, turn off your damn social alerts, especially Facebook and Snapchat; they’re timesucks (on which I’ll write another article).
2. Create an Office Hours chart for you and your team, in which everyone can simply list his or her free hours every week. It’s a pretty great feeling to be able to call up a cofounder in another state knowing that he’s probably free to chat!
3. Share your calendar with free/busy visibility (here’s how), and turn your phone on (and off) when you’ve said you will!

Part II: Timeliness becomes vital, tardiness becomes inexcusable

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????When you’re the only person within hundreds of miles working on (or even leading) a project, an uncanny sensation of surrealism can sometimes sneak up on you. This, at least, has been my experience, particularly during my first startup. One cofounder was in California, another in Illinois, and there I was, out on the east side of Missouri all by my lonesome! I learned very quickly that the only way to keep the team together was through frequent communication. Perhaps surprisingly, setting up calls and shooting emails back and forth wasn’t too tricky. One of the most difficult part each week’s call, aside from agreeing upon strong, SMART goals, was getting everybody on the call and underway each time, on time.

As soon as I noticed what was happening, I did something that I firmly believe everyone leading a team call or videochat should do: start the call with a quick, 30-second update from everyone on the call. People enjoy talking about their own work, and the shame of missing your update is quite a motivator. I also started to insert calendar invites in any email related to scheduling, and soon, the whole team caught on and communicated much more effectively.

Three tips to make it happen:
1. Use your technology. Set reminders, become familiar with the calendar applications on your phone and computer. I have a default reminder set for 15 minutes prior to every event that’s helped me not miss many a business call.
2. Insert a calendar invite directly into any schedule-related email! This helps avoid the “I didn’t know we had a call!” excuse, and automatically corrects for time-zone confusion.
3. Start with a 30-second update from everyone on the team. Everyone likes to share personal progress, and nobody wants to the “the one who missed out.”

Part III: Message-crafting is an art worth mastering, and is most powerful when combined with careful listening

webexshotThe story for this section is short and to-the-point. Back during my second Prezi presentation to the other University Innovation Fellow candidates and NCIIA leadership (a.k.a. Humera), I knew from the beginning that my Prezi was not the fanciest, most beautiful thing I’d ever created. With that in mind, I spent the half hour leading up to the call crafting my message instead of simply focusing on adding bells and whistles to a rather skeletal visual presentation. By picking the right words (“and,” “also,” “we,” “ours,” instead of “but,” “however,” “they,” “theirs”), and deciding what exactly you want to convey, even a quick 2-4 minute presentation can become punctuated with positive phrases, enjoyable articulation, and emotionally evocative messages.

Three tips to make it happen:
1. Pick a [real] message! You know you’ve gone too far when you’re rambling on about your dog’s recent bout of food poisoning, but sometimes presenters get off track without seeming to realize they’ve done so. If your message is “my school needs a physical space for innovation and creativity,” jot it down on a notecard and glance at that card every half minute.
2. Know your audience. This is the most basic one in the book. If you’re talking to students, keep the discussion student-centric. Kindergarteners and PhDs, on the other hand, will require unique (and respectively different) styles of communication.
3. Spark a dialogue when possible, if you’re comfortable with that format of communication. Making one’s self the moderator of a positive, productive discussion is a very rewarding and efficient way to convey ideas.

What’s your experience as a student leader? Post your comments below…

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Blake Marggraff is a University Innovation Fellow and currently a sophomore and Biochemistry major at Washington University in St. Louis, where he is enjoying a life of academics, multiple business ventures, and the occasional hiking or camping trip. Prior to attending Washington University, Blake won the top award at Intel’s International Science and Engineering Fair with a project that used pegylated tin to augment the efficacy of radiation therapy for treatment of simulated cancer cells with low to mid-energy X-ray sources. Blake’s enthusiasm for entrepreneurship began with his success in numerous public speaking competitions, and was furthered by his work as a leader of local National Youth Leadership Training courses. Looking toward the future, Blake intends to help shape the bioethics and consumer biotechnology industries, while inspiring peers to engage in entrepreneurship. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Reports of Innovation in Las Vegas

Watch this 15-minute interview with Jaun Carlo Pascua, 2010 Student Ambassador from UNLV, and you’ll get a sense for why we believe Patience, Persistence and Perseverance are three important qualities in a student changemaker.

2010 Student Ambassador Juan Carlo Pascua starting to see results in Las Vegas.

2010 Student Ambassador Juan Carlo Pascua starting to see results in Las Vegas.

2010 Student Ambassador from the inaugural group has been working way for the last three years, unbeknownst to me. Last I spoke with him in April 2011, Juan Carlo was at the end of his rope disappointed that only a handful of people attended his entrepreneurship I2V event. Having come from UC Santa Cruz and placed in the clean energy competition, Juan Carlo knew what a high-functioning ecosystem looked like. He had a vision that Las Vegas, with its infamous ‘strip’ and casino energy users would ultimately aspire to invent and innovate for the better. His efforts at University of Nevada Las Vegas are just starting to bear fruit.

Anyone know how much energy is consumed in Las Vegas?

For one, Tony Hsieh of Zappos moved company headquarters within a stones throw of the main drag and declared a commitment to make for a more vibrant creative community. To add to this, UNLV hired an entrepreneur in residence who offers up his home, the mansion formerly owned by Mike Tyson, for entrepreneurial events. Innovation is an idea whose time has finally come. The moral of the story is that it is a LONG road. Student changemakers, you will get a lot of no’s. You will get people telling you what you can and cannot do. There will be many red herrings. One of the most important things you can remember is to stay focused and persistent on the goal of cultivating the entrepreneurial climate on your campus.

~ Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, T: @ihumera

Why Being A Student Leader Is The Hardest and Best Thing College Offers

By Sean Newman Maroni

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

In my first post, we played with the idea of creating “autocatalyzing” events–being the person who gets a new event or initiative started but then gives up control to another person or to the community itself. In this post, I’d like to elaborate on how I came to this idea, and explain why being a true student leader, while quite difficult, is a tremendous opportunity to learn and grow as a person.

1. You Get To Learn Something Real

When I found myself with the opportunity to lead 10 students in cultivating more entrepreneurship on campus, I was excited for the chance to make an impact. One of the first things I did to prepare was sign up for a leadership class offered specifically to undergraduates leading student organizations on campus. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to wrap my head around the whole “leadership” thing. Unfortunately, this turned out to be incorrect. In the class, we were exposed to all sorts of leadership styles, theories, and techniques. I did well on the tests, but found myself unable to apply any of the concepts to my role in the NC State Entrepreneurship Initiative.

If you took a foreign language in high school, you might have had a similar experience. Like many people, I took 4 years of high school Spanish, but today can’t hold a conversation with a native speaker to save my life. After “Hola, como estas, muy bien,” I’m like a deer in headlights. I don’t even know what to say if I’m NOT muy bien!

In both high school Spanish and this leadership class, I was learning about a topic, not learning a skill. I think Richard Feynman gets it right when he says that there is a big difference between knowing the names of things and actually knowing about that thing.

The very fact that we made it to college means that we are really good at “knowing the names of things” because our environment values that type of learning. Knowing what to call things is vitally important to effective communication. But as a student leader, you realize that knowing the difference between “Great Man Theory” and “Relational Based Leadership” means basically nothing. Taking the leadership class was not really what I was hoping for, but I ended up learning all that was needed by actually doing things, which not every student gets a chance to do.

2. You Stop Making Excuses

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“I just didn’t have time this week.”

As students, one of our favorite pastimes is telling other people how busy we are. We love boasting about our all nighters, the hours we spend in the library, and the amount of coffee we drink. Why is this?

During one EI Student Network meeting, Raleigh entrepreneur and friend Anthony Pompliano discussed the difference between being busy and being productive. He explained that in college he too would boast about spending 10 hours in the library “studying,” but in reality most of that time was spent on facebook, twitter, NFL.com, and doing anything other than actually studying. He talked about how in entrepreneurship, nobody cares how long you spent on a product, as long as it solves their need.

As a student leader, you have a rare opportunity to learn this lesson 5, 10, maybe 15 years before most people do. First, you will find that juggling classes, a life, and making an impact on campus will force you to reevaluate how you spend time. You will find that it is not possible to simply throw more hours at things, hoping that brute force will solve them.

Furthermore, you will learn how to handle situations when members of your team use the “I just didn’t have time” excuse after missing a deadline. When someone on your team is consistently missing deadlines, it’s a sign that they might not be a good fit for your team moving forward. I’m of the opinion that there are really no excuses for anything, because if you really want something you will make it happen. Making excuses is just a roundabout way of saying that someone or something is not a high priority for you, and these are not the people you want on your team.

3. You Start Viewing Constraints as Opportunities

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In the book “Rework,” one of my favorite entrepreneurs, David Heinemeier Hansson, explains why workaholics never win. His company, 37signals, is famous for taking on industry giants like Microsoft by selling aggressively simple software. David’s philosophy is not to work harder, but to use creativity to solve problems in easier ways. In 2005, David invented a widely popular open source programming language called Ruby on Rails. “Rails” now drives much of the web 2.0 space, but would you believe he developed it while running a design company, developing software of his own, and getting his MBA? Even crazier, he developed 37signals’ best selling project management product “Basecamp” on only 10 hours a week.

Imagine telling David that you didn’t have time to hang some flyers because you had homework due.

The thing about David is that he is not some super-human, he just understands that constraints are tremendous opportunities to innovate. While the world around him was complaining about how long it took to develop software, he invented a totally new programming language. He was forced to come up with a creative solution because he had more obligations than hours in the day.

Most college students don’t give themselves the opportunity to use creativity to work more effectively, and they let school consume their entire day. We spend whole weekends in the library simply because we can. This is “Parkinsons Law”–whatever work you have will consume all the allotted time for its completion.

As a student leader, you don’t have the luxury of unchecked procrastination. If you want to hang onto your grades, make an impact, and get your 8 hours of sleep in a night, you need to find creative ways to detach your time from value. This pressure is where the idea of creating autocatalytic events came about, which has at least doubled our community’s size.

By embracing constraints, you can do great work. Don’t let any one part of your life consume all your time; box it up and starting looking for unobvious ways to do more in less time.

4. The Opportunity Snowball

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? The final reason that being a student leader is the best thing you can do in college is it can begin a lifelong accumulation of advantage. Studies cited by famous books like Gladwell’s “Outliers” are proving that most successful people become successful through a compounding series of opportunities. By doing a great job at everything they do, one initially small opportunity leads to more and more chances to do what they love and discover even more opportunities. I certainly believe that my time as a student leader is the start of a snowball effect of great new things to come.

So grab your chance to make an impact and do they very best you can. There’s no telling what new doorways may open.


sean-newman-maroniSean Newman Maroni is a senior in mechanical engineering at North Carolina State University. He is a Student Ambassador and the co-founder of BetaVersity, a startup specializing in building and supporting innovation ecosystems (see our blog post on it here). Sean can be reached at Sean@BetaVersity.com, and can be found writing about the amplification of human potential at RefuseToPeak.com

Berkeley Students Help Land $20MM From Jacobs Foundation for Design Institute

Jared Karp and Adam Eastman describe the sequence of events over one academic year which helped catalyze a student-led movement in the innovation culture on campus. New! Timeline for sequence of events posted below.

We got word of the $20 million gift on Monday afternoon and 78 hours later, we were able to extract Jared and Adam from their highspeed pace of change-making for a half-hour conversation. It felt like a clandestine secret agent meeting at the ungodly hour of 10:30pm EDT, but that’s what they were able to fit into their crazy schedule of summer internships, design teams, SPARK trucks (a traveling Maker truck sponsored by Motorola) and more.

Their efforts this past year drew hundreds of students from across disciplines to form design teams focused on creating solutions to industry-identified problems. The design community that took over as a result ultimately provided the momentum faculty and administration needed to land substantial investment from the Jacobs Foundation. Paul Jacobs, the CEO & Chairman of Qualcomm, serves on the Advisory Board of the Engineering School at Berkeley. This 30-minute video is a must watch if you want your campus to have more entrepreneurship and innovation activity, and for students to adopt a more entrepreneurial mindset.

Watch the video and post comments below for Jared and Adam’s direct feedback. Oh, and check back soon… we’re working on creating a timeline that helps document the key milestones their team undertook that brings us to present day in just under a year. If you would like to seed student change agents on your campus, consider enrolling a Student Ambassador for our Fall training. Epicenter is also introducing a Faculty Pathways program that works with teams of faculty and administration on a campus to acheive similar outcomes. For more information, visit us this week in Booth #417 at the American Society of Engineering Education, or email us today.

~ Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, T: @ihumera

Timeline: 2012 – 2013 Sequence of Events Leading to Design Institute at UC Berkeley

  • September 2012: Jared and Adam attend event and tour at IDEO
  • September 2012: Interdisciplinary group of seven students come together, read The Art of Design brief created by Adam, inspired by vision & recruited as core team. Design Engineering Collaborative (DEC) is born.
  • October 2012: DEC Team attend Design Thinking workshop at Stanford’s D.Lab
  • October 2012: Jared participates in Student Ambassadors Program training
  • October 2012: Student Leaders approve DEC request to take over unused storage room in Engineering Building
  • November 2012: DEC’s first Design Challenge: Transform room into innovation space with budget of $600. Named Student Hub of Engineering Design (SHED)
  • November 2012: SHED open for use by all student organizations on campus, all scheduling managed by Adam
  • December 2012: DEC hosts Dennis Boyle, Founder of IDEO, to lead ~100 students through workshop that catalyzes engineering design teams working on real projects
  • January 2013: Adam invited to be only student representative on faculty team called PROTO committee (quoted charter from department chair is shown below)
  • March 2013: Adam works closely with Department Chair Professor David Dornfeld to establish main points to discuss about design innovation in department meeting ; Adam creates PowerPoint that overviews what DEC has done & what needs to be taken into account when creating more active learning classrooms
  • March 2013: Student Ambassadors Program invites Jared to speak at Smithsonian in Washington D.C. at the OPEN Conference, video and blog post creates more buzz on campus
  • April 2013: DEC organizational leadership forms enabling Jared and Adam to focus on attracting funding and industry engagement
  • April 2013: NCIIA invites Jared to participate at EPA People, Planet, Prosperity Symposium on Washington Mall
  • May 2013: Project teams present to Engineering Advisory Board, team of prominent alumni, including Qualcomm board chair and CEO Paul Jacobs
  • June 2013: Jacobs Foundation Awards $20 Million to UC Berkeley for Design Innovation Institute
Jared Karp

Jared Karp

Adam Eastman

Adam Eastman

Attention: This is a matter of national security.

Secret Agents Wanted. Report to ASEE Booth #417.

We are recruiting operatives for the Fall training. Faculty and Administration should report to the Epicenter Booth at the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) to learn why the country’s future, not to mention the future of your engineering school, will only be secured by the addition of a secret agent of change (a.k.a. Student Ambassador) helping institutionalize a culture of innovation and engaging engineering peers in adopting an entrepreneurial mindset. Authenticate your identity, watch the video and report to ASEE, booth #417 this Sunday, June 23rd through Wednesday, June 26th for further instructions.

~ Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, T: @ihumera

Create Something Every Day: A Guide to Becoming a Producer

By Elliot Roth

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????CREATORS CREATE to

hone their CREATIVITY.

Engineers are artists. The best of them are making something everyday to exercise their creativity and problem-solving abilities. But, all too often intention is overshadowed by procrastination.

Everyone is guilty of procrastination. It’s easy to promise yourself that you’ll do something but it’s a different matter to actually do it; that’s why gym membership purchases increase after New Year’s. That’s why so many entrepreneurs are starters rather than finishers. However, there is a way to become a finisher, and it starts with a few key steps.

Put yourself on an information diet

It’s 9 p.m. on a Sunday night as I sit down to write a paper at my computer. I jot down the first sentence, then check Facebook to see if my friend has responded to my most recent message. Three hours later, I’ve still got one sentence and I’m watching Harlem Shake videos.

When the entire world is at your fingertips, you can lose yourself for days in mindless junk. Distractions are endless, and while you gorge yourself on information, your bloated mind is drained of the motivation to create. Deadlines keep piling up, you’re always rushing everywhere, and you’re stressed and drained at the end of the day. That is the way your brain feels when you only consume information.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Turn off your phone. Turn off your internet. The best way to keep yourself honest is to have a way to keep track of the days you produce content. This could either be a distinct schedule, or a calendar that you cross off as you go. The trick is to be accountable to someone other than yourself. If you’re accountable to a calendar, a deadline, or a certain amount of time at a certain hour, you are more likely to succeed.

As an entrepreneur, you’ll see leaps forward if you pick a specific time each day to work on your project. Many articles state successful people take a couple hours in the morning to start their day with creating. The trick is to wake up and immediately begin so that you start your day out on a positive note by creating value.

Consuming without producing anything of value is a waste of resources. Consumption should have meaning. Each bit of information you take in should lead you to new ideas. New ideas stimulate a snowball effect, through which you gain greater insight and knowledge. Without the outlet of creation, the knowledge you gain stagnates and eventually evaporates. The best way to work out your mind is to make something.

Do something. Do anything. Just get started.

This mantra has been especially helpful to me in writing. The best advice I ever got about how to write was simply: “Write every day.”

While that may seem daunting at first, particularly if you don’t have a good idea, it is far better to do something than nothing at all. The minute pencil touches paper, thoughts become reality and you immediately discover ideas that you would never have realized without starting to create. The same holds true for any discipline. Write, draw, doodle, craft, play. These simple “paper prototypes” allow you to begin finding new knowledge.

Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect. Something is always better than nothing. Yoda and his crazy green Jedi knowledge are dead wrong. The truth is, most effort ends in failure. Despite this fact, amazing things happen when people try.

A problem that many wannabe entrepreneurs face is that they begin many projects, but don’t follow them through to completion. The reason they don’t succeed is because they aren’t consistent.

Consistently improve

When I was in 11th grade, my friend Dan got an award for attendance. It turns out that he had missed a single day of school in 11 years (he’d had the flu). He was top of the class and got in to a prestigious school with a full ride scholarship.

Dan illustrates the rewards of consistency. By going to school every day, Dan learned and practiced far more than his fellow classmates. Attending class became a habit, so much so that when senior year rolled around, he didn’t skip a single class.

Consistency favors sustainability over speed. If you’re going to dedicate yourself to becoming an entrepreneur, you must think on a larger timescale. Begin building positive habits early so that they become a part of you. The most important thing to remember is to strive to improve consistently. Bill Gates improved Microsoft consistently as a CEO.

A side benefit of consistency is that people will be more honest with you about your work. It’s far easier to tell someone that their baby is ugly if they are going to make another one tomorrow. Honest feedback leads to dramatic improvement and stronger relationships. It is much harder to be honest with yourself.

This past April, I tried to write a poem every day for National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo). Thirty poems in thirty days is a HUGE challenge. At first, I was very dedicated and stayed up late writing. But then I started to slack. After missing a day or two, I couldn’t keep up and quit halfway through the month.

There were a few key elements missing in how I went about this gargantuan task. Primarily, I failed to develop a routine. I was continually distracted by “more important” things, and cared more about the outcome than the process. I wasn’t able to delay gratification in order to create something of value.

Delay gratification

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????In 1970, a Stanford experiment conducted by a psychologist Walter Mischel tested children on their ability to delay gratification. He placed a marshmallow in front of them and told them that they could eat it, but if they waited they could have a second one. The amazing results showed that the children who could delay gratification were much more successful later in life than their counterparts.

Long-term rewards are arguably better than short-term rewards. However, it is difficult to see the steps involved in getting to the end result. The best way to achieve is to be consistent in your work. Produce something simple and easy every day and you will get closer and closer to your goal.

Practice makes permanent

Producing content on a regular basis leads to many valuable things. At first everything you make seems terrible. Don’t despair. Over time, you’ll improve your skills as you learn through producing. You get comfortable with making new things. All this practice will enable you to hone your skills, so that when you have an epic idea, nothing can stop you.

The more you put out into the world, the more you receive. However, beware of sharing your small successes. Recent studies have shown that if you share what you are working on, you are less likely to follow through. So don’t share. Commit first and work out the early kinks, get into a habit, gain momentum, and then tell the world.

You will begin building a skill-set that can advance you personally, and produce ever-improving quality projects that will attract other creative people. Other self-made experts will come out of the woodwork and share ideas with you.

Don’t worry if the content you produce is not up to par yet. Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to accomplish mastery of any subject. Most communities accept this fact, and welcome newcomers with open arms. The entrepreneurship community is like that; serial entrepreneurs mentor young entrepreneurs because they want to give back. The only way for young entrepreneurs to improve is to consistently practice. Originality comes from practice. Mastery comes from practice.

If you follow these steps, and produce consistently, nothing will be able to stop you. So go and start creating. The path to 10,000 hours of mastery begins with a single hour of creativity.

elliotrothElliot Roth is a Junior in Biomedical Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University. His interests are myriad and include slam poetry, music, international jewel thievery, being an EMT, and writing incredible articles as a Student Ambassador. You can reach him at rothet@vcu.edu and follow him on twitter @rothet.

INFOGRAPHIC: The Entrepreneurial Mindset

Source: ODesk and Millenial Branding, The Future of Work

Thank you to ODesk and Millenial Branding for conducting this study and producing an awesome infographic that articulates the mindset of our Student Ambassadors. Our Student Ambassadors, most of whom are engineers, have “seen the light’. They have come to realize that through engineering, they can solve some of the world’s most pressing problems be it through a corporate job as an ‘intrapreneur’, a startup of their own or doing independent project work as many of the users at ODesk.

What makes our Student Ambassador Leaders different is their commitment to helping their peers on campus see the light.

Let’s face it, the most entrepreneurial and creative thinkers amongst us are going to find a way to pay down our college debt after graduation. It doesn’t matter if its by landing that dream job, creating a portfolio of projects that pay the bills or creating a venture spin-out while at school that ultimately employs ourselves and, for the sake of our fragile economy, many others. Student Ambassadors have a deep passion and motivation to enable their peers to pursue curricular and co-curricular opportunities while at school to prepare them to think entrepreneurially, operate independently and pursue a career path that is more meaningful than the peers that get stuck in a cubicle. For more information, check out the Future of Work Website and flip through the summary Powerpoint on Slideshare.

Untitled~ Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, T: @ihumera

Is It Ever Okay to Skip Class? A Two-Minute Checklist for the Student Entrepreneur

By Blake Marggraff

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????When it comes to balancing your efforts as a student entrepreneur and campus ambassador with school, choices that once seemed black and white suddenly tend to blend together. Sure, a few late nights (early mornings?) here and there don’t seem too bad, but in a world where assignments and exams already fluctuate in waves, balancing education and venture frequently collide quite similarly to constructive interference in electromagnetic radiation.

constructive interference

As you can see in the the diagram (courtesy of Signal Harbor), constructive interference occurs when nasty midterms and demanding group projects synchronize with startup deadlines and even Student Ambassador (SA) assignments to create Danger Zones. Side effects of exposure CIDZ (Constructive Interference Danger Zones) may include nervousness, irritability, excessive coffee consumption, and for some individuals, premature balding has been observed.

It’s this kind of stress and situation when you, the driven, intelligent, and probably over-committed student entrepreneur, to ask, “Should I skip class?”

Fortunately for you, we’ve got a checklist that will make your decision a lot easier. Before we get there though, let’s lay out some ground rules. Specifically, there are several situation where skipping class is probably not only a poor use of time, but also a dangerous and expensive choice that will cost you in the long run.

  1. NEVER skip class just to study for an exam in that class later that day. Professors have a strange habit of covering material that will be on their exams up to and including the very last lecture, either intentionally or otherwise.

  2. Don’t sleep through a class, unless your health and medical well being depends on the extra hour or two or rest you’ll get. It’s just not worth the time you’ll spend catching up on missed lectures, or worse, trying to study what was covered without notes or a recorded video.

  3. Try your best not to miss classes where participation or attendance is noticeable or important for your grade. As obvious as this seems, but being in good standing with your professors and going for the easy hand-raise points makes a difference.

Additionally, the old concept that you can just get notes from a friend should finally be taken off life support and be allowed to die peacefully. You’ll only get the full classroom experience if you’re actually in the classroom. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the first rule of tautology is the first rule of tautology.

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for! To use this checklist, give each bullet point below a score of 1-5 (don’t worry, you can give the same score to multiple items); 1=Strongly Disagree, 3=Neutral 5=Strongly Agree. When you’re done, match your score with the Skipping Key to see if you should consider skipping class.

  1. The class I might skip contains information relevant to my startup or entrepreneurial interests.

  2. The class I might skip is tough, and I’m not sure I’m on track for the grade I want.

  3. The class I might skip is small enough that the Professor would notice my absence.

  4. The class I might skip counts attendance toward part of the overall grade.

  5. The class I might skip has a review/recitation session that I’ll certainly attend.

  6. I have used my previous 24 hours as efficiently as possible (working diligently ≥16 hours)

  7. I have attended just about all of my previous lectures.

Alright, now, add up your responses for bullets 1, 2, 3, and 4. Then, subtract the sum of responses from bullets 5, 6, and 7 from the first total.

Put another way: (#1+#2+#3+#4)-(#5+#6+#7)= Your Skipping Score.

Skipping Key:

Score

Should you Skip?

-11 to -8

Okay, maybe you’ve earned it. Go ahead, skip just this once, and make sure it doesn’t happen again!

-7 to -3

Hm, this is a close one. Go if you can, and whatever you do, make sure you don’t forget to catch up on the material.

-2 to 17

Holy guacamole, don’t even think about it! Tough it out, get some rest when you can, and take a look at your schedule to see what’s causing the most stress and sucking up your time.

So there it is. Keep in mind, as with any decision you make as a self-directed student and young entrepreneur, everything we’ve discussed should be taken with a grain of salt the size of Yosemite’s Half Dome. In the end, just ask yourself: will any negative ramifications of your choice justify the benefits, both short and long-term?

Blake_Marggraff_photoBlake Marggraff is a Student Ambassador and currently a sophomore and Biochemistry major at Washington University in St. Louis, where he is enjoying a life of academics, multiple business ventures, and the occasional hiking or camping trip. Prior to attending Washington University, Blake won the top award at Intel’s International Science and Engineering Fair with a project that used pegylated tin to augment the efficacy of radiation therapy for treatment of simulated cancer cells with low to mid-energy X-ray sources. Blake’s enthusiasm for entrepreneurship began with his success in numerous public speaking competitions, and was furthered by his work as a leader of local National Youth Leadership Training courses. Looking toward the future, Blake intends to help shape the bioethics and consumer biotechnology industries, while inspiring peers to engage in entrepreneurship.

Cultivating an Entrepreneurial Community as a Student Leader

By Sean Newman Maroni

Building a university entrepreneurial community is unlike any other student leadership role. As a student leader of NC State’s Entrepreneurship Initiative for the last three years, I’ve learned a lot about sparking entrepreneurship and why many university entrepreneurship programs fail. This article is the first of a 12-part series on cultivating thriving innovation ecosystems in the often constraining university environment.

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Humans (and College Students) Don’t Scale

If you are a student leader, you will learn this lesson sooner than most. To make a dent in the way your campus operates, you will quickly find that time is your scarcest resource. Being any kind of student leader inevitably intensifies the college student lament about the zero-sum game of balancing sleep, grades, and a social life.

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When I started helping build our community, my triangle was engineering classes, entrepreneurial endeavors of my own, and planning events. Minimizing sleep felt like some sort of badge of honor, and my “reality distortion field” worked to soothe the academic concerns of my parents. These sacrifices seemed warranted because as “President” of the EI community, I felt it was my responsibility to do everything I could to make things happen. But despite the time investment, too many of my initiatives could be summed up with “at least there was pizza.”

It became clear that something needed to change.

After reading a few good books, watching hours of Stanford eCorner videos, and reflecting, I decided to try to remove the “I and me” from the equation. I had mistakenly conflated the fancy “President” title with my importance, and as a result limited the potential of people around me. Unfortunately, entrepreneurship’s past is filled with great ideas that died due to a similar arrogance of leadership. Steve Jobs explains his own struggles with this concept here.

As a student leader, you have a unique opportunity to avoid developing the habits of ego and hubris that can squander a group’s potential. If you give someone responsibility and trust, their IQ will miraculously double.

Autocatalysis

What do chemical reactions have to do with event planning?

It turns out more than you think.

An autocatalytic reaction occurs when the output of the reaction contains the inputs of that same reaction. What makes these reactions so cool is that if you have the basic input ingredients for one reaction to occur, a self-sustaining and possibly accelerating chain of activity ensues. This idea is used by tech startups in the form of “network effects” to accelerate growth. The explosion of a viral video is autocatalytic because one “share” leads to more shares, which in turn leads to still more sharing.domino

Your main focus in creating new events and initiatives should be to integrate autocatalysis. This is how it is possible to grow a community without letting it consume all of your time.

For example, we once built something called an eBoard as a way of spreading the word about our events. It’s a giant free standing whiteboard that we place in the middle of high traffic areas to market events. Back when I was the only person that deployed the eBoard, it saw the light of day 2-3 times a semester. Now, we allow anyone in the EI community to check out the eBoard to promote their own projects. This leads to even more people discovering our innovation space, attending events, and in even turn more people using the eBoard.

We’ve also created an autocatalytic “Community Office Hours” program. We started this when we noticed that entrepreneurs are highly interested in connecting with students, sharing insights, and offering them opportunities. To start this program, I invited a local attorney to work out of our innovation space, “The Garage,” for a few hours on a Friday afternoon. I posted on our facebook group and sent out an email that he would be in the Garage to offer free legal advice from 3-5 pm, and that anyone was welcome to show up. The first session went well, so I welcomed him to post on our facebook group anytime he planned to hold hours. He shared this with other local feeders to the entrepreneurial community, and it’s taking off. This program only required one meeting and few emails to set up, yet it’s been quite valuable. By giving trusted community members direct access to our channels, I’ve removed myself as a bottleneck for serendipitous entrepreneurship to happen. We are experimenting with even more autocatalysis by getting students to start holding their own office hours.

I encourage you to think of unique ways to make events self-sustaining; there is truly no limit to how big you can go.

Steps to Starting Autocatalytic Events

1. Listen. In community building, your target market is all around you. Consistently seek out the opinions of others to understand what they’d like to see happen. If someone voices enthusiasm for creating something, ask if they would like to take the lead on making it happen.

2. Design with the end in mind. Since your goal is to create self-sustaining events, think of unique ways to integrate autocatalysis and empower many community members to take ownership of its success.

3. Actively Create The First Reaction. If you are the lead person on a project, it is your job to be the catalyst that begins the chain reaction. Pinpoint the essential tasks that must be completed to go from idea to first iteration, and proceed to execute, taking every opportunity to engage your team’s unique skills.

4. Empower a “DRI.” After the first iteration of a new program, identify a “Directly Responsible Individual” who is interested in sustaining that event in the future. Ideally, this is the person who came up with the idea, or contributed the most so far. Trust this person to execute, and be prepared to support them when needed. Even if you have a fancy title like “President,” it’s your job to support, not control a DRI. DRI’s are responsible for the day to day things that need to be done to make something happen, and perpetually improving the quality of that initiative.

5. Manage the sun and the rain, but let the plants do their thing. Let DRI’s and the community shape the budding events and spend your time ensuring the fundamental ingredients of an entrepreneurial culture are in place. Entrepreneurship is inevitable if all the right inputs are present, but dies if any input is missing for too long. A few of these include a rich talent density, communal acceptance of new ideas and participants, cross-disciplinary perspectives, a “failure = learning” mindset, and using reciprocity as a currency of opportunity.

6. Know that not everything will work. If you are confident that the right ingredients are in place, but a certain event is still not working, it’s ok to let it go. There is an element of natural selection in community building; if the community doesn’t find something valuable it’s ok to let it die.

The role of a community builder is to create the conditions for entrepreneurship to happen. Work to put the right people, resources, and entrepreneurship mindset in place, but trust the people around you to build on that foundation. After giving up control and reframing my role, our community has doubled in size, we’ve launched more companies, had a lot more fun, and I’ve actually received more (undeserving) recognition than when I was trying to do it all myself. No man is an island; the entire community must help craft an ecosystem to be proud of.

This article is the first in a series of writings on creating thriving university innovation ecosystems.

sean-newman-maroniSean Newman Maroni is a senior in mechanical engineering at North Carolina State University. He is a Student Ambassador and the co-founder of BetaVersity, a startup specializing in building and supporting innovation ecosystems (see our blog post on it here). Sean can be reached at Sean@BetaVersity.com, and can be found writing about the amplification of human potential at RefuseToPeak.com

Four Student Ambassadors Launch Innovation Space Venture, BetaVersity

Congratulations to Student Ambassadors Sean Maroni (NCSU), Lucas Arzola (UC Davis), Blake Marggraff (Washington University St. Louis), and Jared Karp (UC Berkeley) who launched BetaVersity this past April. BetaVersity designs and installs prototyping labs and ‘design kitchens’ for students to not only cook up new ideas, but also to make them a reality.
betaversity

For a fee, campuses can be up and running with a space and brand that draws students from all disciplines to design and bring their idea to life. For their investment, campuses receive training and support for student leaders and campus officials who are increasingly recognizing the importance of supporting a ‘maker culture’ to support the anticipated demand in manufacturing jobs (summarized well in this Forbes piece: The End of Chinese Manufacturing and Rebirth of U.S. Industry).

Within a month, the team landed their first customer UC Davis and now lists UC Berkeley and North Carolina State University as BetaVersity sites. These happen to represent three of the four locations where the founders go to school, so my guess is that Washington University at St. Louis will take advantage of their ‘in’ before BetaVersity has a backlog.

Tim Huntley’s piece BetaVersity – Taking Innovation to School, in An Entrepreneurial Life, credits the team’s visit to Stanford E-Week. There, the founding team met for the first time learning about the value of innovation spaces like Stanford’s D.Lab or ‘The Garage’ on Google’s campus. Imagine the power of connected innovation spaces on each of the nation’s 350 undergraduate engineering schools. Now THAT would make for an economically competitive future. To learn more, visit their website at www.betaversity.com.

~ Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, T: @ihumera

UC Berkeley Ambassador Speaks at Smithsonian, Washington D.C.

Jared Karp, Student Ambassador from University of California Berkeley, spoke at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in an event entitled, “Spaces of Invention.”

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The six-speaker event, held as part of the NCIIA Open Conference in Collaboration with Epicenter and was delivered Pecha Kucha-style (also known in some circles as an Ignite talk). In 15 slides that auto-advanced every 15 seconds, Jared Karp, a 3rd year Mechanical Engineering major at Berkeley, captivated the audience with his team’s quest to bring a Stanford d.School and IDEO-esque design space to the Engineering School at UC Berkeley. The result of their work, the Design Engineering Collaborative is a space now claimed by the Engineering Department as their own and is used by student clubs and faculty alike. Less lecturing and more hands-on making will create more inventive and innovative engineers, is the premise under which Jared Karp, Adam Eastman and other core team members are operating. NCIIA has seen many faculty espousing this belief in its 17 year history, but it’s the first time we’ve seen a student-led effort to make it so. Student Ambassadors joining the program will learn catalytic strategies like these to institutionalize a maker culture within their STEM Colleges and Universities. To see Jared’s 3.5 minute talk, advance to 32:40 of the following YouTube video of all six talks.

The five other speakers include faculty who describe their Design Kitchens and maker spaces from the collegiate through K-12 arenas. They include:

~ Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, T: @ihumera

Penn State Student Trades Pen for Ford 250 Truck in 8-wk Trader Challenge

redtruck

Update 3/20 11:20am: We have a picture of Joe and his new red truck! Way to make your daddy proud.

 

The culmination of the much-anticipated Trader Challenge yielded an undisputed win by Joe Marcus whose most recent trade was a Ford 250 Truck for a Bowflex PR3000 Home Gym.

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According to reports in the campus paper, Penn State’s Daily Collegian, “His goal was to get a more reliable four-wheel drive car for his father to drive in the winter.” He traded the Bowflex Gym to an out-of-shape elderly man to achieve his goal, the paper reports. Read the entire article: Ultimate Trader Challenge at Penn State reveals award winners. We hope to have a picture to post soon.

Congrats to Penn State Student Ambassador John Oliver and his team for a successful Trader Challenge! Later this week, in Washington D.C., twenty student ambassadors (9 new trainees and 11 current), along with close to 300 OPEN Conference attendees will have the chance to hear directly from Oliver about the affects of this challenge on the Penn State Innovation and Entrepreneurship ecosystem in a panel moderated by Epicenter’s own Tom Byers of Stanford University.

~ Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, T: @ihumera

Bottling the Bay Area and Stanford Magic

Student Ambassadors travel to Bay Area, attend Stanford E-Week

Nine top-performing Student Ambassadors had an immersive experience in Silicon Valley last week to bring back best practices to their campuses. Some may say, “What happens at Stanford can’t be replicated in our region!” Perhaps not in its entirety. But, we think by breaking down the constituent parts of the magic that is at Stanford and its surrounding area, Student Ambassadors learned valuable new tools that will enhance their own Entrepreneurship and Innovation (E&I) ecosystems.

Student Ambassadors reported that the trip was life-changing for them and as one student described, it was a “completely tremendous experience, exceeded literally every other leadership/entrepreneurship event I’ve ever had the chance to attend.” They learned about several key-ingredients in the secret sauce at Stanford, including the importance of optimizing SPACE for creative thinking, to “unencumber the mind from constraints”. They learned about being EMPATHETIC, which allows them to get at the root of the source of the problems for people instead of just treating symptoms of assumed problems. They were involved in 2-hour and 12-hour DESIGN CHALLENGES saying, “it was cool to work with a team of strangers to get something done.” They attended a lecture with Tom Byers that “broke down entrepreneurship” and spent some one-on-one time with Byers who inspired them to lead an E&I movement on their campuses.

Off-campus, they met examples of rising-star INTRAPRENEURS at Google and EBay/PayPal and saw first-hand how Google’s open workspaces, casual atmosphere, and amenities like free food and laundry service maintain happy/healthy/productive people who foster an their inherent culture of design thinking, creativity and innovation. Students returned to the d.lab to have a one-on-one with CEO Rick Klau of Google Ventures who imparted words of wisdom like “beware of small successes”, and kicked-off roundtables with 12 portfolio company CEOs. Student Ambassadors also attended lectures and signature classes like the Entrepreneurship Thought Leaders Series (top download from iTunes U) with the four founders of SkyBox Imaging, followed by a discussion of their backstories with the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Class, taught by Draper Fisher Jurvetson Partner Heidi Roizen.

All-in-all, the trip was amazing, exhausting and inspiring. Students Ambassadors are all digesting the experience and returning to their campuses having bottled a bit of the magic. Stay tuned for more as we develop step-by-step materials that teach Student Ambassador how to implement the implementable on their campuses. In the meantime, recruit a Student Ambassador to attend our Spring Training, which begins at the OPEN Conference on March 21st of this month (register here: Apply).

~ Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, T: @ihumera

UPDATE 3/26/13: View additional photos at the Epicenter Facebook Album.

Only Students Could Have This Kind of Impact

TEDxWakeForest Student Ambassador Christina Oelsner had tough shoes to fill. Last year’s Student Ambassador Lucy Lan rocked the campus with a sold-out first-ever TEDxWakeForest to share ‘ideas worth spreading’ and infuse innovation and entrepreneurship into the dialogue at Wake. Not only was Christina tapped on the shoulder to be a Student Ambassador with two other co-organizers, but her brother Billy was NCIIA’s first Wake Forest Student Ambassador back in ’10-’11. Well, Christina and her colleagues are killing it! Conference registration opened on January 1st for the February 25th event, but relative to this time last year the team has double the registration figures at 375.

*THIS* Is Why We Believe Students Can Change the World

Students are the customers of the educational experience Colleges and Universities are providing them. They know what other students need to hear and who they need to hear it from. That is why our Student Ambassador Program is so successful. Students can leverage their peer-to-peer marketing abilities to create a movement on campus and create a climate for innovation and entrepreneurship.

This bodes well for the event which drew nearly 1,100 participants last year… unless, of course, there is a maximum capacity for the Wait Chapel space… in which case you better hurry up and register. Check out the awesome video (above) produced by the co-organizing team of three. You can also check out the event website and Facebook page.

Sign up to have a Student Ambassador on your campus by the March 21st deadline.

~ Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, T: @ihumera

Nine Top Performers Announced! Trip to Stanford E-Week.

Nine Top Performers Announced! Trip to Stanford E-Week.

John Oliver, pictured above in blue, is one of nine recognized as a Top Performer.

John Oliver at Penn State is one of nine students who is being recognized as one of our 2012-2013 Top Performers. He is called out amongst the 27 Student Ambassadors not for the 2 concurrent SPARKs he led during Global Entrepreneurship Week, nor for the awards event that culminated, but rather for the Ultimate Trader Challenge that is taking off with more thrust than the Space Shuttle! Inspired by the Canadian who traded up a red paper clip to a house over a year and 14 trades, the Challenge at Penn will start with a blue pen and has been featured in this week’s campus paper, The Collegian, and on radio B94.5 The Morning Zoo Crew.

Now THIS is student-led impact… for a first-time competition, there are 110 already signed up to trade up from a blue pen to goodness knows what else! Even if it only engages 110 traders, that’s countless others who will trade with them and watch from the sidelines. What does trading have to do with entrepreneurship? Well, this exercise in particular teaches participants about the value (or perceived value) of an object. It teaches people to get behind your entrepreneurial vision and support you in your quest to trade up to something meaningful. It teaches you that you don’t get what you don’t ask for AND you’ll never attain a goal by watching on the sidelines. That is entrepreneurship. To generate value, get behind a goal, inspire people and hustle. Now, imagine a huge campus like Penn State bit by the entrepreneurial bug… That is what movements are made of—go John! It’s no wonder that you are one of the 9 top performers we are rewarding with a trip to Stanford’s E-Week.

Aside from John Oliver of Penn State, the top performers include Sean Maroni of NCSU, Michelle Zwernemann and Nishant Kumar of Johns Hopkins, Lucas Arzola of UC Davis, Jack Goodwin of UCSD, Alexandra Halbeck of Tufts, Blake Marggraff of University of Washington St. Louis and Elliot Roth of Virginia Commonwealth University. They will spend five days and four nights in the Bay Area attending E-Week events at Stanford, meeting Google Ventures, meeting start-up founders and other luminaries.

If you are interested in becoming a Student Ambassador, or having one to lead an entrepreneurial movement on your campus, and would like to have a shot at prizes like the trip to Stanford E-Week, act fast! Registration for the Spring Training closes on March 21st. Students trained this spring and next fall hold their Student Ambassadorship for the ’13-’14 Academic Calendar (the spring training gives you the advantage of coming to NCIIA’s Open Conference and to learn from incubent student leaders on their campus, before some graduate and leave campus). We believe students can change the world. Join us in starting a movement on your campus.

~ Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, T: @ihumera