Opening Minds

Quite a few Fellows have found or created positions to do their innovation work in their university. This story is an excerpt from Designing for Change.

When La Salle Fellow Onesimus Morrison was a sophomore, he attended a seminar on innovation and entrepreneurship taught by Professor Steve Melick, director of the La Salle Center for Entrepreneurship. 

The idea of entrepreneurship attracted Onesimus immediately. He connected with Professor Melick and worked with him on a student-run thrift store program. 

At the end of Onesimus’s sophomore year, Professor Melick asked him if he wanted to work part time on a project. He wanted a student’s input on something that would help students learn creativity and innovation.  

That project became La Salle’s first Open Minds Challenge, held in February 2015 and focused on promoting interdisciplinary collaboration and sustainable solutions. When he graduated in Spring 2016, Onesimus became a full-time program coordinator for the Center for Entrepreneurship.

In addition to co-organizing what is now the annual Open Minds competition, Onesimus also manages a team of La Salle students from different majors. These students help local companies with marketing, branding, finance and other business-related topics. 

This, Onesimus says, is beneficial to both parties; the work allows the students understand how start and run a business. 

Onesimus said that his position as a recent student helps him considerably in his work. “When you can see things from a younger generations’ viewpoint, it’s easier to have the right type of empathy or understanding of students’ needs,” he said. 

Another vital part of Onesimus’s job is designing new ways to benefit students, and seeing new opportunities for impact. As a Fellow, Onesimus worked with other La Salle Fellows including RJ Lualhati and Kenneth Brewer to turn an underutilized space in the basement of the library into a makerspace called the Innovation Factory.

“A lot of students think that innovation and entrepreneurship are these big scary business terms,” he said.

“It’s really important, and enlightening to me, that you can apply those terms to anything. I enjoy showing students that you can take whatever you’re passionate about, and turn it into something that will benefit you and others.”

UIF Roadtrip April 2015

7 Days. *5 Campuses. 25 Fellows.

Picture of Ford Expedition

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Saturday, April 18th, 2015

Humera and Katie are hitting the road, traveling through eight states to visit University Innovation Fellows, faculty sponsors and administrative leadership, to experience their spaces of innovation and hear stories of the way in which student engagement is expanding opportunities for peers and creating lasting institutional change.

First stop is James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where Fellows are holding Bluestone Hacks, the first-ever student led hackathon. Innovative students are prompted to hack solutions to real issues over 24 hours. We’re excited to judge ‘food and agricultural’ innovations, and view team projects in the ‘healthcare’ and ‘consumer devices & tools’ categories.

Next stop — Richmond, VA, to visit our University of Virginia Fellows. Our venue is the infamous Tom Tom Festival which we’ve heard about for years from Elliot Roth, a Fellow from Virginia Commonwealth University. There, we’ll be crashing the Genius Hour, “a showcase of interactive technology with all kinds of innovators, students, creators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers and enthusiasts.”

We’ll hit the road again, headed to Kent State in Kent, Ohio, for a walk-through of innovative spaces on campus including their TechStyleLAB, Blackstone Launchpad, Student Multimedia Studio and the Architecture Library. Afterwards, we’ll attend a meeting where Fellows present their experiences and plans to campus administration. We’ll end our time at Kent meeting the team at HacKSU, the masterminds behind the growing annual Kent Hack Enough, the Kent State Fashion/Tech Hackathon (which explores the growing wearables technology industry), and many other cool learning opportunities that get Kent-area students excited about making, tinkering and engineering new and creative innovations.

Heading back East, we’ll hit Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Fellows at the University of Pittsburgh have a strong partnership with numerous innovative faculty. Our first Fellow, Karuna Relwani (who has since graduated), tells the story of the early days when she and her student colleagues worked to form the ESMD Club (Engineers for Sustainable Medical Development). Now, the program has grown substantially, has systematized its organizational structure (currently on its third President), expanded into a new space which is staffed by an Innovation Director, and has undertaken a beautiful rebranding with the name Pitt DesignHub.

Our trip may include some surprise stops along the way in PA, NY and CT, so be sure to stay tuned with LIVE tweets, photos and video right here on this page!

Hittin’ the road!

Humera and Katie

**Updated 5/5/15: Our surprise stop was to La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pa., making this a 5 campus-tour. (Posts coming soon)

Read all posts in this series here:

UIF Roadtrip April 2015

Virginia is for Makers

Just Kent Get Enough