#uifresh Announcement March 23, 2015

Update on #uifresh here:

For Immediate Release

March 23, 2015
Media contact:
Laurie Moore
Communications Manager, Epicenter
(650) 561-6113

University Innovation Fellows launch #uifresh campaign to attract and retain first-year students to STEM majors

March 23, 2015 — Today, the University Innovation Fellows launched a campaign to expose all incoming freshmen at a school to the types of experiences in design thinking, entrepreneurship, and innovation that will attract and retain more incoming students in the STEM disciplines.

According to a report published by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology [1], about 60 percent of students who arrive at college intending to major in STEM subjects switch to other subjects, often in their first year. To combat this trend, the University Innovation Fellows program is partnering with 10 universities and colleges to launch “#uifresh” (University Innovation Freshmen).

The #uifresh campaign is being launched as part of a White House collection of initiatives to further enhance STEM in the United States. The initiatives are being released to coincide with the White House Science Fair on March 23, 2015, to increase nation’s stakeholders’ commitment to expand and enhance STEM activities. View the White House announcement here.

Fact Sheet Screenshot

The University Innovation Fellows program is run by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), which is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell. The program empowers students to become change agents in higher education who help their peers learn an entrepreneurial mindset and creative confidence.

The Fellows are working with their institutions’ leaders and orientation week organizers to provide learning opportunities that are fun, experiential, creative and lead to increased interest in making an innovation on campus. Fellows were required to secure letters of support from their college and university presidents in order to join the campaign.

Schools involved in the initiative to date include:

Many of the 291 University Innovation Fellows at 115 U.S. schools are working working to gather signatures on campuses in the coming weeks. In preparation for the launch of #uifresh at their schools this Fall, Fellows will work together to determine how the programs will be rolled out at their campuses and share best practices regarding the retention of freshmen in STEM.

Ben Matthews, a University Innovation Fellow from the University of Virginia, and Humera Fasihuddin, co-leader of the Fellows program for Epicenter, were invited to attend the White House Science Fair to celebrate the launch of the #uifresh campaign. At the fifth White House Science Fair on March 23, President Barack Obama welcomes more than 100 of the nation’s brightest young minds, with some showcasing innovative inventions, discoveries, and science projects.

To learn more about the University Innovation Fellows, visit The program is currently accepting applications for Spring 2016; apply by October 26 at


Update on #uifresh here:

About Epicenter:
The National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter) is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell (formerly 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. Epicenter’s three core initiatives are the University Innovation Fellows program for undergraduate engineering students and their peers; the Pathways to Innovation Program for institutional teams of faculty and university leaders; and a research program that informs activities and contributes to national knowledge on entrepreneurship and engineering education. Learn more and get involved at

About Stanford University:
At Stanford University, the Epicenter collaboration is managed by the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP), the entrepreneurship center in Stanford’s School of Engineering. STVP delivers courses and extracurricular programs to Stanford students, creates scholarly research on high-impact technology ventures, and produces a large and growing collection of online content and experiences for people around the world. Visit us online at

About VentureWell:
VentureWell was founded in 1995 as the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) and rebranded in 2014 to underscore its impact as an education network that cultivates revolutionary ideas and promising inventions. A not-for-profit organization reaching more than 200 universities, VentureWell is the leader in funding, training, coaching and early investment that brings student innovations to market. Inventions created by VentureWell grantees are reaching millions of people in more than 50 countries and helping to solve some of our greatest 21st century challenges. Visit to learn how we inspire students, faculty and investors to transform game-changing ideas into solutions for people and the planet.




Related Links

March 2015:

September 2015:

About #uifresh:



Sponsors Crash Fellows Meetup: A Faculty Glimpse into the Student Movement

The following post is a reflection of two faculty sponsors: Landon Young of William Jewell College (Missouri) and John Santa Lucia of Wayne State University (Michigan). Both faculty sponsors had the pleasure of joining Fellows at two separate meetups; the first was the Southeastern Regional Meetup in Greenville, South Carolina, from October 3 – 4, 2014 and the second was the Mid-Atlantic Regional Meetup in College Park, Maryland, and Washington D.C. from November 1 – 2, 2014. Each meetup had a unique theme dedicated to the strengths of the universities being represented and the resources within local community relationships. 

Southeastern Regional Meetup

John Santa Lucia (right), Fellows Faculty Sponsor;  Professor at Wayne State University and Owner, DNA Software, Inc.; Southeastern Regional Meetup

John Santa Lucia (right), Fellows Faculty Sponsor; Professor at Wayne State University and Owner, DNA Software, Inc.; Southeastern Regional Meetup

It takes a special person to be an entrepreneur. It takes courage, vision, innovation, optimism, energy, perseverance, team building, leadership, and technical skill. Few people have the winning combination of skills needed for success. However, three students from Wayne State University — Nikolas Upton, Siwatu Sanders, and Pradeep Bhat — have these skills in spades. All three of them successfully completed the training for the University Innovation Fellows (UIF) program. Nationwide, only 168 students have completed the program to date.

As a faculty sponsor, it is a privilege to mentor Nik, Siwatu and Pradeep. I have been working with them to refine their business ideas and their ideas for spreading entrepreneurship at Wayne State through business short courses and the creation of a “maker space” for 3D printing, prototyping and fabrication. The capstone event for the UIF training was a regional meeting October 3-4 in Greenville, SC. This was attended by 68 students from throughout the U.S. and our hosts from Clemson and Furman University were wonderful. I was thrilled to be able to participate in this event.

John Santa Lucia, Southeastern Regional Meetup

John Santa Lucia during dancing (!!!) activity; Faculty Sponsor, Wayne State University

We started out at 9:00 PM with an overnight road trip from Detroit to South Carolina. The road trip itself was a great opportunity to have extended conversations with the students. Their energy and optimism is infectious. At the UIF meeting we were treated to some wonderful talks from local entrepreneurs and various instructional games from the Design Thinking Group. The students participated in several workshops that involved brainstorming business ideas in small groups, making elevator pitches, writing business plans, dancing (!!!), and performing real marketing research by performing polls of people on Main Street. As a faculty sponsor, I had great fun mostly observing the incredible creativity of the students. It was also fun to jump in and offer some guidance and to ask some probative questions.

I love the social idealism of this generation. Most of their business ideas involve socially conscious issues such as care of the elderly, how to deal with student loan debt, green technologies for energy and waste disposal, engineering prosthetic devices for handicapped people, and engineering clean water for poor countries. One of the unique aspects of the regional meeting was that the structure of the meeting was engaging, instructional and FUN! Quite different than the usual classroom didactic. I think that more faculty sponsors should be encouraged to go to these meetings so that they can import some of the entrepreneurial ideas into their curricula. Entrepreneurs like Nik, Siwatu, and Pradeep give me optimism for the future of our country.

John SantaLucia
Professor and UIF faculty sponsor, Wayne State University

Mid-Atlantic Regional Meetup

I am thrilled that I chose to attend the University Innovation Fellows (UIF) Mid-Atlantic Meetup at the University of Maryland with my students! It was a provocative weekend that helped me to better understand the goals and activities of Epicenter and the UIF program. I was able to experience the activities with students first-hand, and this shared experience reinforced the bond with students and gave us a shared vocabulary, vision and purpose.

The hands-on activities gave the students experience in materializing their ideas into tangible products and designs, and we all had a blast laughing at ourselves as we fashioned virtual reality wearables out of fuzzy pipe cleaners!

Landon Young (left), Faculty Sponsor, William Jewell College

Landon Young (left) during the creativity circuit; Faculty Sponsor, William Jewell College

The meetup took several serious turns as well. As a group, we discussed national trends and specific ideas for William Jewell College, including an outline that we developed for changes in the student curriculum. The most meaningful take-away for the students was being guided into a mindset of empathy, which gave them insight into other points of view, including the perspective of a customer, a friend, and an administrator on campus.

As a faculty member and advisor, I was able to meet the staff and organizers from Epicenter. Over the course of the two-day gathering, I saw the passion and knowledge that they brought to the table and learned the specific methodologies that they use. This group of driven and focused individuals guided the students with care and gave specific as-needed instruction to each Fellow. The group accomplished so much together, and I left inspired by the relationships forged and the innovative dialogue we shared. I cannot wait for the next meetup when I can join students and advisors in shaping the next phase of the UIF program.

Landon Young
Professor and UIF faculty sponsor, William Jewell College