Word From Our Fellows

The Fellows program gave me the support and legitimacy necessary to participate in important conversations with administrators and stakeholders in regards to changing my campus culture. I had the training, backing of a national movement, support of hundreds of students, and research, all of which I called on in my mission to more adequately prepare students for the economy of the future.

I’ve learned that failure is a learning experience, and more than anything, an opportunity to revise and improve. I learned that I belonged in arenas reserved for what I thought only to be the “elite.” I found a network of students that support me to this day, a group of facilitators and teammates who still guide and inspire me, and a sense of belonging I’d never felt before.

Since joining the University Innovation Fellows program, our team has been redesigning a general education course to include two weeks of design thinking curriculum. The course will be offered to 1,500 students from all disciplines each year, and the skills students learn will give them confidence that they can solve problems in any field.

When students enter the workforce, the problems and challenges they face will not have single, clear answers they can look up in a book or website. Students must be taught how to deal with uncertainty and use creative mindsets to come up with innovative solutions. That is why I joined the University Innovation Fellows. I want other students to learn the valuable skills I have learned as a Fellow so they can compete in the economy of the future.

As Fellows, we realized that it had become commonplace for students at GVSU to only interact with other students in their major. To help break down these barriers, we created a group on campus called IDEA (Interdisciplinary Entrepreneurship Alliance) that brings in problems from the outside world and encourages students to collaborate with students outside their major and use the design thinking framework to come up with solutions. The ultimate goal of our work is to teach students how to solve any problem they are faced with. Changing the way the students learn at GVSU and across the nation has become our passion, and the impact that it will create will not only benefit our university but also our community.

The hallmarks of the liberal arts experience at William Jewell are breadth and depth of knowledge, an intimate awareness of one’s role as a critical and informed citizen, and active involvement in the world to serve others. As a University Innovation Fellow, my work has complemented our strengths as a college with workshops on campus and partnerships in Kansas City that give our students real-world experience with creative problem solving and the processes of innovation. The Fellows program has helped me understand our campus from a 40,000 foot perspective, and I am now applying the tools of design thinking to develop programs inside and outside the classroom that build capacity, drive change, and open new doors for our students.

I’m immensely excited about creating a ‘pop-up’ innovation and entrepreneurship kiosk for my campus. It will be a portable cart design that houses 3D printers, computers with parametric design applications and a desktop CNC machine that I’ve purchased with my own funds. I plan on sharing the portable cart design with all UIFs. My favorite part of the program is being surrounded by people who are passionate about the positive impacts that innovation and entrepreneurship have on the equalization of prosperity for all. As a student mentor, I am providing leadership to several I-Corps program participants being taught the Lean LaunchPad methodology. Without UIF, I would not be prepared to support the positive changes my institution is undertaking.

As a Fellow, I hope to unlock the potential in students that most don’t realize they have. I’m planning a program that allows students to partner with their school in order to recreate the academic spaces they frequent day in and day out. I want to make sure the students at my school are equipped to lead and unafraid to tackle challenges. After we get this program rolling, then I hope to work with students in helping them find ways to improve current programs at school as well as sharing their newfound innovative/creative spirit with the rest of the campus, creating a campus movement. You enter the University Innovation Fellows program as a student, but you graduate as a student leader, a believer, and a seeker of challenges based on the work you did to understand the campus as well as how to engage with faculty and students on a deeper level.

My favorite part of the program so far was the trip to California to visit Google and Stanford. The other Fellows and I were able to share ideas and hear about programs already in place on other university campuses that we could implement at our own colleges. I came home with a renewed understanding and desire to increase entrepreneurship on OU’s campus. At OU, we are collaborating with the faculty and administration to build an innovation hub that will be a co-working space for students and faculty, as well as a world class maker space complete with all the equipment the students would need to make any of their ideas possible. I hope that all students will utilize this space to collaborate on ideas, and learn and teach others they may not normally run into.

At the University of Oklahoma, we are working extremely close with several VPs on campus who are fully on board with the mission of UIF and have embraced the maker movement. Having these influential faculty on board from day one has allowed us to move very quickly and have such a big impact. We are in the process of creating an world class space on campus that will act as a hub of innovation allowing students, researchers, and community entrepreneurs to come together, share expertise, and collaborate on amazing projects outside of the classroom. Once it is completed, almost every freshman at the university will interact with the space during their first year on campus. Opportunities like this will fundamentally change the way students learn in higher education and pave the way for the next generation of innovators.

For me, the UIF Meetup allowed me to solidify my understanding of concepts I learned during our UIF training. Visiting those big, high tech companies brought concepts like design thinking to life, and allowed me to apply those to create solutions I had only imagined. As a fellow, I have taken on the mission of improving student education in engineering in order to increase student interest in this field. I am currently working with faculty at Tuskegee University to conduct research in engineering education and use innovative ideas to re-design engineering courses. This type of work is important to keep our nation competitive in the sciences with other nations in the world. I think that the use of innovation in any discipline is a great way to generate ideas and fuel students to make a lasting and significant impact in our nation and in the world.

The six-week UIF Training Program was fundamental in transforming us, the UIFs, into advocates for our schools, our students, and our I&E movements.  I enjoyed the opportunity to meet with countless other motivated students from across the country and have stayed in close contact with many of them- comparing our campus obstacles, our plans for our students, and bouncing ideas off of each other.  The network we formed by way of the 6-week UIF training has been incomparable to any network of students I’ve had before.  We are people who get the job done and have some fun while we’re at it.

The UI Fellows program helped me immensely not only in my entrepreneurial endeavors, but in creating a lasting impact at my university. During the training I learned what it takes to be a leader, to tell a compelling story, and to work alongside a community in making a sustainable impact. Possibly the most important thing about being a UI Fellow is the other amazing students in the program. By sharing our experiences, we collectively learned more as a group than any one of us ever could alone. I would recommend any aspiring leader and student entrepreneur to join the UI Fellows.

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.

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.

Word From Our Fellows’ Faculty Sponsors

Our University Innovation Fellows are exposing more students to innovative thinking by championing those currently active in the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. They have connected these students with the centers and faculty who are interested in innovation across campus. This group is impressive – where everyone works together as equals. They work seamlessly with faculty and administrators across each College including the Office of the Provost. They have embraced innovation and entrepreneurship across all disciplines, positions, and ages of participants at Notre Dame. The importance of their work cannot be understated. This is the first initiative I have seen where students are driving a large project from ground zero. While our university tries to endow its students with the skill set to be change-makers, the training that the Fellows received has given them skills, insights, and credibility that has made them so successful.

Clark Atlanta University is committed to creating transformational change focused on fostering an ethos of innovation across all disciplines. Student participation and engagement in this transformation is vital. I am working hand in hand with our four University Innovation Fellows as I continue to build Clark Atlanta’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development. From the innovation ecosystem mapping to the connections made with other institutions, the University Innovation Fellows program has been catalyst for this effort.

Lauren and Ryan’s designation as University Innovation Fellows has elevated them and the entire topic of innovation on campus. They are contributing to building a series of innovation events for the next school year, including creating co-working days, developing popup collaborative spaces and makerspace events, and planning speakers and events around coding, innovation and creativity. This is part of a broader effort to build a strong innovation culture on campus led by senior faculty and administrators, and Lauren and Ryan have a meaningful seat at the table because of their role as Fellows.

The University Innovation Fellows program has transformed Bre from student to educator, from researcher to innovator, from participant to leader. With her leadership and involvement, the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Clemson has begun to change, grow and flourish. In one short year, university courses of been created, entrepreneurship awards have been won, and innovation conferences have been held; all as a result of Bre’s dedication to the mission of the Fellows.

Attiyah is laying the framework for a student-led movement across campus. She is working hard to create a maker club and is helping to organize several mixers to showcase the University Innovation Fellows program, makers club, and the Lean LaunchPad course. When students feel they have skin in the game, and play the key role to an activity’s success, they really go all in

The Fellows at UWM have already had an impact on students by organizing a three-day startup springboard event. They have joined a cohort of several universities across the country for an interactive series of workshops that catalyze entrepreneurial team formation. Fellows are also helping to organize TEDx event at UWM. Their work is important because it shows other students that they can make a difference. They can leave this campus a better place than they found it.