Fellows Speak at White House

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

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


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


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

~Humera Fasihuddin, University Innovation Fellows



Higher Education Maker Summit @ ASU, October 23-24

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

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

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

For more about the summit visit

– Humera Fasihuddin

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