#UVUIFamily (Utah Valley University Innovation Family)

by Magann Dykema


  1. Pens are designed for right handed people.
  2. Chairlifts are magical in team building.
  3. I love my #UIFamily.

It never ceases to amaze me how much the community of University Innovation Fellows is like a family. Whenever I am in a room full of UIFs, I instantly feel at home. With over 1500 Fellows and counting, it is difficult to know everyone, and there is something special that happens when I meet another UIF in person for the first time. Most of the people at the Rocky Mountain Regional Meetup, from June 23-24, 2018, I had never met before, and that did not stop us from greeting each other with hugs and phrases such as, “You’re the one I’ve been emailing!” or “I finally can put a face to the name!”

The event was hosted and designed by the Utah Valley University Fellows (UVUIF as they call themselves) Khaliun “Holly” Amarjargal, Brayden Cutler, Wendy Fernandez, Luke Kennard, Tim Smith, Nicholas Tyler, Nick Varney and their Faculty Champion Cynthia Wong. The team designed a weekend so unique that I cannot compare it to any other UIF experience I have had…They carefully crafted a mixture of indoor/outdoor experiences that showcased the work they are doing on campus, as well as the beauty of the community around them. There were a mixture of hands on experiences, engaging presentations, and team building opportunities.

Our first day, we arrived at the UVU Business Resource Center and were greeted with smiles and hugs from everyone as well as handed a waiver. A few of us looked at each other and wondered, “What did we get ourselves into that we needed to sign a waiver with an emergency contact?” I can now say that we got ourselves into the experience that we would all be grateful for. Before we got started, our attention was directed to the corner of the room where the team had brought in the famous mobile prototyping cart for us to use! I have heard about this cart so many times from UVU Fellow Tanner Wheadon, and there it was. It may not seem exciting to some people, but there was an excitement in the room as some of us were given the opportunity to see the cart in real life rather than in photos!

We didn’t waste anytime jumping into the day’s festivities. Our first activity: an Environmental Design Challenge. Nick shared with us a systems map that he had created with some teammates that they had used for a competition at Oxford. With about half of the room being from out of town, we were surprised to learn that Salt Lake City has an issue with smog which is trapped between the mountains due to inversions in the winter. After sharing with us the process of interviewing stakeholders and his team’s findings, Nick challenged us with creating a dual-purpose solution that would improve air quality and appeal to Utahns (residents of Utah). He shared that the top issues that Utahns are willing to contribute to a solution are crime, air quality, homelessness, economic opportunity, and public transportation.

Team Photo

We formed teams (making sure there was at least one Utahn in each team) and started brainstorming and prototyping. In the end, my team created a solution that would tackle a few of the listed issues. Our idea: Pedicabs in Salt Lake City. Homeless community members would receive work through either building or powering the pedicabs, and community members and tourists would ride the pedicabs as another form of transportation. Other teams came up with solutions such as a carnival, coworking spaces, and community centers with Teslas.

Next, we headed on a walk to learn more about campus and how UVU is designed for student success – from the exposed, colored pipes running through the buildings designed for teaching to the hands on classroom models to the stackable credentials to the dual-mission model. It was evident how valued the students’ voices are at UVU.

Our last stop before lunch was an amazing stained glass window series called the Roots Of Knowledge. Throughout the artwork, it tells the story of the human quest for knowledge. The artist even added little “easter eggs” throughout. (Hint: Batman is standing on top of a building in panel Y2 and looks like a shadow.) I could have spent hours in the room looking at the 80 panes of glass, and I still would not have seen it all. It was truly breathtaking.


We enjoyed lunch in a room of the library that overlooked the gorgeous landscape of mountains and then we made our way back to the Business Resource Center for an Innovation Incubator led by Luke, Nicholas, Nick, and Cynthia. For those of you that have participated in an un-conference, the idea is similar. Using Poll Everywhere, we answered the question: How might we expand UIF influence on our campuses? From there, the top four solutions were placed on whiteboards around the room:

  1. Popup events for students, faculty, and administration
  2. Monthly design thinking challenges
  3. Sneaky little experiments
  4. UIF showcase (showing different student projects).

We shared our thoughts on the topics of interest by walking around and sharing our thoughts; what came out of it were really cool ideas. Ideas like a secret book in the library with event invitation in it and a golf cart that brings students from the parking lot to class and asks trivia questions about innovation on campus. I may have to bring some of these things back to my campus with me.

After a short break, Tim led us in a design sprint around the idea of bringing mobile makerspaces to the community and K-12 schools. The design sprint was based off of the five day Design Sprint that Google Ventures has developed. Because of limited amount of time, we focused on pieces of the first three days of the sprint and fit it into an hour and a half. Teams came up with radically different solutions and different interpretations of the sprint guidelines. My team focused on bringing the mobile makerspace to elementary schools. We wanted to prove to the schools the importance of this tool in a creative way while solving other concerns the school may have. We created a food truck makerspace that taught students lessons of making through cooking breakfast while also helping to feed students that might not otherwise have the opportunity to eat breakfast. Other teams’ solutions included a drone delivery system with prototyping tools, a creative way to occupy underutilized school space after hours that engaged the whole school district, and a consultation business that would teach employers how to bring out talent from their staff through the use of hackathons and mobile maker carts.


The programming for the first day ended with a keynote from Dr. Kyle Reyes. I can honestly say that this is one of the best keynotes I have ever heard. Dr. Reyes had us looking at the different lenses we are born with in life, build throughout childhood, and how those are adjusted as we continue to experience life. One of the most impactful things that he shared with us was how the world is often designed for people that are right handed. He proceeded to list off things that are difficult for people that are left handed such as opening doors, writing, and scissors. Then, he blew everyone’s minds with…well, I won’t spoil you experiencing this. Find a pen. Place it in your right hand and read it. Now, move it to your left hand and read it. Did you notice something change? Pens are designed to be read by right handed people! As a right handed person myself, I never realized how much I take for granted; it was missing from the catalog in my brain. Dr. Reyes explained how all of our experiences are cataloged in our brains which can create preconceived ideas and biases. As we continue to learn and experience new things, our catalog gets updated.

Our first day had come to an end, but that did not stop us from spending time with each other. The Pleasant Grove Strawberry Days were happening only a short drive away. We piled into the cars and made our way to the festivities. There, we enjoyed walking around the carnival, eating Strawberries N’ Cream, and watching the rodeo. It was a nice way to end the day and get to spend more time getting to know all of the people I was in Utah for the weekend with.


Headed into the second day, we had a change of scenery. The day was spent at Brayden’s aunt and uncle’s cabin in Sundance. We arrived at this amazing cabin on the side of the mountain where we started our day off with Nicholas sharing an ignite about what he is currently working on at UVU. He shared how he is starting a video project in work with Lifey, an autobiography company near the school. These videos give students the opportunity to share their innovation stories because as Nicholas asked, “If no one remembers what we did, then what was the point of what we have done?” These video preserved the stories of the innovative students at UVU. We pondered the question “How will you leave your mark?” as we walked outside.

There, waiting for us, were three piles of supplies including a tarp, a pool noodle, a shovel, rope, a pair of scissors, duct tape, and some gardening gloves. Our challenge was to create a shelter that would keep us warm and dry and be sturdy. It was extreme prototyping at its finest. We broke off into teams and went off in different directions into the forest to create our shelters. The shelters were tested and we were allowed to make some modifications before the final test. As a group, we gathered together to walk around to all of the shelters and see how they structured based on weather-proofing, sturdiness, and warmth. In the end, we had all created structures that would have kept us safe if we would have had to sleep in them that night.


At this point in the day, it was getting close to lunchtime so we all piled in the cars to head down to the Sundance Resort. There, we rode an hour-long chairlift to the top of the mountain; These chairlift rides and conversations are some that I will remember for a long time. With no structure for the ride and the opportunity for free flowing conversations, we rode up to the top of the mountain in groups of four getting to know each other, continuing earlier conversations, and creating connections that we otherwise may have never made. The chairlifts were truly magical.

As we reached the top of the mountain for a late lunch, we could not help but notice the gorgeous mountains that were surrounding us. While everyone was taking in the view, I stepped aside to watch them. Something had changed, this group that was already like a family had become even more of a family (if that is even possible). I watched as people were taking pictures together, laughing, running after hats flying in the wind…we were one big, happy family! I didn’t want this moment to end, but we had to make our way back down the mountain before the chairlift closed. Conversations continued as we made the hour ride down the mountain, and the group continued to grow as a family.

Everyone was pretty quiet as we made our way back to the cabin. I could tell that the impending end of weekend was floating around in the back of everyone’s minds. That did not stop us though. We gathered outside near a slackline that was set up with hammocks all around us. Brayden looked to Humera and asked if she would be so kind to help him with a demonstration. With the assistance of Nick on one side of the slackline and Humera walking across, Brayden proceeded to give an ignite on his UIF journey. He shared that you will fall off, but it is the people that are there to support and guide you that keep you going. You have to keep looking forward to the goal. As Humera made it to the end, the group erupted into applause. Brayden continued to step up onto the slackline, make his way across, and share his final thoughts: the UIF journey is just like slacklining.


From that point, everyone was encouraged to try out the slackline and the hammocks that were placed around. We watched as everyone supported each other across the slackline. Whether it was the two people helping someone make it across or the group that cheered them on, the support was unreal. As someone who had never tried slacklining, I was nervous to step up on to the one inch piece of nylon holding me up, but I was able to do so and make it all of the way across because of everyone supporting me.

As the evening was wrapping up, there was a feeling in the atmosphere of gratitude, happiness, and love. We sat in the living room in a circle and went around sharing what we were grateful for during the weekend. The theme that many shared: the family that we had been able to be with for the weekend. Crying, laughing, and hugs proceeded as we said our goodbyes. But, they were not “goodbyes”; rather, they were “see you laters”. Because with the family UIF creates, you never know the next time you will talk to someone in person, on a BlueJeans call, in an email, or in our Facebook group. This family that UIF creates is like no other. With 1500+ people all over the world, there is always a family member not too far away. This family meetup in Utah is just one prime example of the power of the #UIFamily that I love.


Insights from the UVUIFs:


“I was shocked and proud to see the meetup happen. Seeing the faculty and students come together as one to make this happen was like no other. I talked to Tanner Wheadon about it afterwards, and we would have never believed that our campus fellows would ever get to the point of holding a meetup. One thought I continually have is concerning our current status, we have done some great things, and our program has come far. However I don’t think we can settle for the things we have done so far. We want to see lasting impact, and that is going to take more time and work.” – Brayden Cutler, University Innovation Fellow

Luke's Baby

“We needed to design for the user in mind. What that meant to us was that we weren’t going to give you something that you had been taught at every UIF meet up, nor was it something that you would see at any other regional meet up. We wanted to give you the experience and lifestyle of Utah. We wanted you to learn of our real air quality issues, see the gorgeous mountains, and live the slow paced reflective Sundays. We value the family time so much. As evidenced by the two future fellows present (e.g. Tanner Wheadon’s son and ours).” – Luke Kennard, University Innovation Fellow


“The planning, coordinating, getting the permissions from the right VPs and Deans, working with the Faculty Champions and the UVU Innovation Council to take this from a goal to a reality was a challenging growth opportunity and I am ever so grateful for the experience. The event itself was incredible and that is due to the herculean efforts of the UVU Fellows and faculty that picked up the baton and carried it to the finish line… A very memorable event filled with camaraderie and strengthening of bonds that forged lasting relationships and brought all of the participating UVU personnel together as one team instead of several cohorts.” – Tim Smith, University Innovation Fellow


“The biggest thing I pushed for in the beginning of our planning was that if everyone is going to come here, we wanted to give you the UVU and Utah experience. Saturday was  focused on the UVU experience: showing you the Business Resource Center (which is the most innovative and entrepreneurial resource on campus) and showing you how campus was designed for student engagement. Sunday was focused on the Utah experience: showing you the Rocky Mountains, outdoor culture, and one of the gems of Utah – Sundance.” – Nick Varney, University Innovation Fellow



“The Rocky Mountain Meetup was a huge success due to a combined team effort. It was a privilege to watch individual strengths and talents emerge as we worked through different challenges involved with navigating all of the rules and regulations of the university, lining up events and activities and coordinating the logistics. Because this was our first meetup, we knew that the event was going to be a prototype and we had our share of “ta-da moments” and frustration at times. As the fellows leveraged their individual strengths, each iteration became better and better. In fact, the meetup ended up looking completely different than our initial plans. With a “yes, and” attitude a great deal of hard work and sacrifice, the meetup was far better than what any of us could have achieved individually.” – Cynthia Wong, Faculty Champion


About the Author: Magann Dykema

Magann headshot

Magann is a Fellow from Michigan Technological University where she is studying Civil Engineering. This summer, she is interning for the University Innovation Fellows program. For more information on her and the work she is doing: http://universityinnovation.org/wiki/Magann_Dykema



Now Accepting Applications for Fall 2017 UIF Program


Applications for the University Innovation Fellows program 2017 fall training are now live! Please request an application here: universityinnovationfellows.org/apply/application. Once requested, you will receive access to the full student application within 24 hours.

What You Need

In order for your application to be complete, you need the following materials:

  1. A student application (one per student);
  2. Three letters of support from peers and mentors in your community (submitted online after the student application is submitted);
  3. A faculty application, complete with the $4,000 program fee;
  4. One institutional letter of support from the university President, Provost, Chancellor, or other VP-level administrator.

Student Letters of Support

We have adjusted the letter of support process for students this year because we want to learn more about you! We’re now asking for three letters from your peers, faculty or mentors. We are suggesting a few  different types of letter writers, in which you need to ask three:

  • A student peer
  • A person with whom you have volunteered
  • A faculty, staff or administrator
  • A mentor in your community
  • A student peer with whom who have collaborated on a project

Next Steps

The application deadline is Monday, March 24, 2017, midnight Eastern Time. EXTENSION: Monday, May 1, 2017, midnight Eastern Time.

We take one week to reconcile all of the application materials for each school. We will then send a status update sheet so that you can view items that have been submitted and items that have not. Based on the status sheet, if all application materials are submitted, your school will be marked in green (for GO!), and you and any other students from your school will be invited to interview together during the month of April.

Interviews are conducted in leadership circles (up to 4 students applying with you from your school). These are interactive and meant to showcase you as a team, whereas the application is to get to know you individually. If you are the only student applying from your school, you will be interviewed, we encourage you to find like-minded students like yourself to apply alongside you. All interviews are conducted by current University Innovation Fellows and recorded for review.

Once all interviews are completed, we will be in touch about your status with the program. Interviews run for up to a month (maybe a week more), so you should hear from the program team no sooner than mid-May.

Training Dates

Fall training will begin on Tuesday, September 5, 2017, with orientation. There will be two orientation sessions running, as we are now accommodating global time zones. Orientation is one hour, and will introduce you to the 6 weeks of the online training program and set expectations.

  • The first orientation is September 5 at 8 p.m. eastern time.
  • The second orientation is September 5 at 10 p.m. eastern time for participants in India (8:30 a.m. India standard time)

Training will conclude with your official launch as a University Innovation Fellow on October 20, 2017.

Fall Meetup

Upon successful completion of the program, you will be invited to attend our Silicon Valley Meetup November 16-19, 2017. You will learn more about this at orientation and throughout training.

If you need more information as a student, please follow this link: http://universityinnovationfellows.org/apply/students/

If you need more information as a faculty sponsor, please follow this link: http://universityinnovationfellows.org/apply/faculty/

Or, visit our frequently asked questions page: http://universityinnovationfellows.org/apply/faqs/

If you still have questions about the application, or the program in general, please contact Katie Dzugan, katie@universityinnovation.org, or +1 (413) – 274 – 7077.

Press Release: 169 Students Named University Innovation Fellows

University Innovation Fellows gather at the d.school during the Silicon Valley Meetup in March 2016. Photo by Ryan Phillips.

University Innovation Fellows gather at the d.school during the Silicon Valley Meetup in March 2016. Photo by Ryan Phillips.


169 students from 49 higher education institutions in four countries have been named University Innovation Fellows.

The University Innovation Fellows program empowers students to become agents of change at their schools. Fellows work to ensure that their peers gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to compete in the economy of the future and make a positive impact on the world.

To accomplish this, the Fellows advocate for lasting institutional change and create opportunities for students to engage with innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and creativity at their schools. Fellows design innovation spaces, start entrepreneurship organizations, host experiential learning events and work with faculty to develop new courses.

The program is run by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school). With the addition of the new Fellows, the program has trained 776 students at 164 institutions since the program’s creation. Read about what activities the new Fellows plan to create at their schools here.

“We believe that students can be so much more than just the customers of their education. They can be leaders of change and they can co-design the higher education experience,” said Humera Fasihuddin, co-director of the University Innovation Fellows program. “This core belief has driven the program since its inception, and we’ve seen the results of this belief put to action at schools around the world. Fellows are collaborating with their peers, faculty and administrators to create more educational opportunities for students at their schools. They are making measurable gains, both in the number of resources and the students served by the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.”

Individual Fellows as well as institutional teams of Fellows are sponsored by faculty and administrators and selected through an application process twice annually. Following acceptance into the program, schools fund the students to go through six weeks of online training and travel to the annual University Innovation Fellows Silicon Valley Meetup. Throughout the year, they take part in events and conferences and have opportunities to learn from one another, Stanford mentors, and leaders in academia and industry.

“Through this program, Fellows learn how to analyze their campus ecosystems for new opportunities, understand the needs of stakeholders at their schools, collaborate with peers from different disciplines, and solve open-ended problems,” said Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, co-director of the University Innovation Fellows program. “All of these mindsets and skills will help Fellows make a difference in higher education as well as in the increasingly complex world that awaits them after graduation.”

The new Fellows join the program from the following schools:

  • Ajay Kumar Garg Engineering College, India
  • Boise State University, USA
  • Bucknell University, USA
  • California State University, Fullerton, USA
  • City College of New York, USA
  • Clemson University, USA
  • CMR Institute of Technology, India
  • Cooper Union, USA
  • Furman University, USA
  • George Fox University, USA
  • Grand Valley State University, USA
  • Gujarat Technological University, India
  • Hartwick College, USA
  • James Madison University, USA
  • JNTU College of Engineering, India
  • JNTUA College of Engineering Pulivendula, India
  • JSS Academy of Technical Education, India
  • Kamla Nehru Institute of Technology, India
  • Lawrence Technological University, USA
  • Madanapalle Institute of Technology & Science, India
  • Michigan Technological University, USA
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology, USA
  • Morgan State University, USA
  • North Carolina A&T State University, USA
  • North Dakota State University, USA
  • Rice University, USA
  • Rowan University, USA
  • Siddharth Institute of Engineering and Technology, India
  • Smith College, USA
  • South Plains College, USA
  • Southern Illinois University Carbondale, USA
  • Susquehanna University, USA
  • Tennessee Technological University, USA
  • Texas A&M University, USA
  • Texas Tech University, USA
  • Universidad de Ingeniería & Tecnología, Peru
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA
  • University of California, Riverside, USA
  • University of Connecticut, USA
  • University of Delaware, USA
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA
  • University of Miami, USA
  • University of New Hampshire, USA
  • University of North Dakota, USA
  • University of Southern California, USA
  • University of Twente, Netherlands
  • University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, USA
  • Visvesvaraya Technological University, India
  • Western State Colorado University, USA

In March 2017, students will have the opportunity to participate in the Silicon Valley Meetup, which brings together all Fellows trained in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017. During this gathering, Fellows will take part in immersive experiences at the d.school, Google and other Silicon Valley organizations. They will participate in experiential workshops and exercises focused on topics including movement building, innovation spaces, design of learning experiences, and new models for change in higher education.

Applications for the Spring 2017 cohort are due on October 31, 2016. Learn more and apply at universityinnovationfellows.org.


About Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school):

The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University (known as the d.school) brings together students and faculty from radically different backgrounds to develop their creative confidence and their potential as innovators by tackling real-world challenges. Learn more at dschool.stanford.edu.


Media contact:
Laurie Moore
Communications Director
University Innovation Fellows Program
(650) 561-6113

The Power of Mindset for Student Change Agents – #BigBeacon Twitter chat

On Wednesday, April 13 at 8 p.m. ET, we had the privilege of engaging in a Big Beacon Twitter Chat hosted by the KEEN Program. Using the hashtag #BigBeacon, leaders from across the nation spent an hour discussing the notion of students as change agents, and how the University Innovation Fellows program develops students’ entrepreneurial mindset to equip them as agents of change in higher education. The conversation included voices from faculty, students, administrators and other stakeholders who drove home the importance of infusing active student participation in the strategic issues facing our college campuses. Participants were given the following questions in advance:

Why is student led change vital to higher education?
Q1: What is a #uifellow?
Q2: How does the UIF program improve or enhance engineering education?
Q3: Why is focusing on mindset just as important as focusing on skill set to equip students for their careers?
Q4: What does UIF do to ensure that students gain necessary attitudes, skills & knowledge to compete in the economy of the future?
Q5: Can you list some highlights of the UIF program and the impact it has had on students?
Q6: What happens once fellows go back to their campuses? Why is that important?
Q7: What is the value of analyzing one’s campus ecosystem?
Q8: Why is it valuable to identify relevant stakeholders and developing empathy for them?
Q9: What does the UIF experience do to change attitudes and dispositions of students?

Among the answers were the following favorites:














A transcript of the entire conversation can be found here, on Big Beacon’s Storify page.

Online Information Session: April 12, 2016

April 18th Update: Video Recording of Info Session Now Available…


Interested in bringing the University Innovation Fellows program to your campus? Join our 30-minute info session.

The University Innovation Fellows program will host an online information session for interested students, faculty and leaders from across the U.S. and, for the first time, from around the world. This short session will highlight the impact of the program and key elements of how it works, through the voices and stories of current Fellows. The session will be recorded and shared afterwards on our application page.


To join, select from the following options:

1) Web Browser (easiest option)

a) https://a2m.bluejeans.com/a2m/live-event/yl79885


2) Laptop paired with room system (best experience)

a) Dial: bjn.vc or in the room system.

b) Go to https://a2m.bluejeans.com/a2m/live-event/yl79885/room-system/

c) Enter the pairing code displayed on your room system screen into your browser.


3) Room System

a) Dial: bjn.vc or in the room system.

b) Enter Meeting ID: 520023783 and Passcode: 1963


4) Joining via a mobile device?

a) Download the app from App Store or Google Play.

iPhone/iPad : https://itunes.apple.com/app/blue-jeans/id560788314

Android : https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bluejeansnet.Base

b) Enter event ID : yl79885


5) Phone

a) Dial one of the following numbers :

+1 (760) 699-0393 (US)

+1 (877) 305-0280 (US Toll Free)

See all numbers here: http://bluejeans.com/numbers/primetime-attendees

b) Enter the participant PIN: 4099388194 followed by # to confirm.

2015 Year in Review: What Innovation & Entrepreneurship Education Looks Like

“Since our Nation’s founding, our progress has been fueled by an inherent sense of purpose and ingenuity in our people.  Americans have more opportunities now than ever before to carry forward this legacy — to create something, to raise capital in creative ways, and to pursue aspirations.” – President Obama, Presidential Proclamation of National Entrepreneurship Month (November 2015)

2015 was a year of opportunity for University Innovation Fellows to be co-designers of and contribute value in higher education. Today, innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) education can take a wide range of forms at our colleges and universities in the U.S. In addition to starting ventures, I&E education can also expose students to the mindsets and skillsets that make innovators and entrepreneurs successful, whether they start their own companies or join industry, government or the nonprofit sector. Faculty and students are seeing the benefit of exposure to an entrepreneurial mindset in all majors and career paths, and there isn’t one perfect model or collection of activities that can be used to teach students.

Across the country, students are taking the lead to understand their school’s needs and develop opportunities for their peers to learn an entrepreneurial mindset and skillset. The University Innovation Fellows are leading this charge. This national student program — run by the NSF-funded National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), which is directed by Stanford University and VentureWell — empowers students to be change agents in higher education. Fellows collaborate with one another and with faculty and administrators at their schools to develop activities that teach entrepreneurship, innovation, design thinking and creativity including courses, spaces, workshops, events and organizations.

Below are just a few ways that Fellows are creating new opportunities for their peers to pursue their aspirations:

Startup weekendsUniversity of New Haven

  • In November 2015, a Fellow at the University of New Haven hosted 3-Day Startup, a 72-hour learning-by-doing campus workshop. This program is used by colleges across the globe to teach entrepreneurial skills to university students in an extreme, hands-on and experiential environment.
  • William Jewell College, Rockhurst University and the University of Missouri – Kansas City William Jewell Collegecollaborated to host #OneDayKC in April 2015. This event gave six teams of undergraduate and graduate students 12 hours to create and pitch a lean startup company that leverages Kansas City’s infrastructure and the Internet of Things to solve community challenges.



  • University of the Virgin IslandsFellows at the University of the Virgin Islands hosted a hackathon in November with 28 students from different majors who collaborated on ideas to impact the local community. The winning team designed the community service app “Win-Win.” This app’s goal is to raise awareness and participation in community service across the territory. App users will earn points for performing community service that could then be redeemed at local merchants for discounts and other specials.


University of Puerto Rico MayaguezK-12 engagement


Virginia Commonwealth UniversityCo-working spaces

  • A Fellow and several students from Virginia Commonwealth University created Indie Lab, a co-working community laboratory designed to provide access to equipment in a creative space in order to accomplish scientific projects. The space provides a membership program to supply aspiring scientists, artists and entrepreneurs with the tools necessary to perform safe and reliable experiments outside of higher education labs.
  • This Fall, Fellows at Kent State University created and launched The Fridge, an open co-working space in the library for students from all majors to work on collaborative projects. Fellows hosted a University Innovation Fellows Regional Meetup in the space in mid-November, where participants used the design thinking methodology to explore ideas around advising and mentorship.


Michigan TechFreshmen orientation

Pop-up classes

  • At James Madison University, the JMU X-Labs offer free, non-credit workshops to help faculty, students and community members learn new skills. Faculty and students also use JMU X-Labs as maker spaces and facilities to teach courses, with a future goal of offering 24-hour access to the campus community. In November, Fellows and faculty also hosted a University Innovation Fellows Regional Meetup in the X-Labs space, where attendees participated in design challenges and explored projects Fellows are implementing across the country.

  • Utah Valley UniversityA Fellow at Utah Valley University created a mobile cart with prototyping materials that can travel to multiple classrooms to teach design thinking. This pop-up model allows faculty to help students to engage with the methodology without having to create new curriculum, with the future goal of creating a dedicated makerspace on campus for this type of engagement.



  • Southern Illinois University CarbondaleAt Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Fellows enhance the entrepreneurial playing field for the region’s student entrepreneurs and innovators through Saluki Ventures. This incubator runs the Saluki Innovation Series, which offers a pitch competition, hackathon, marketing workshop and other events.


Student organizations

  • Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 1.21.14 PMNorth Dakota State University’s Fellows created the Hammock Initiative to encourage students to discuss ideas in a relaxed setting. As part of the #uifresh initiative, in August, they hosted the activity “I3: Ignite Innovative Ideas,” where students relaxed on hammocks and discussed innovative and entrepreneurial activities on campus and in the community.
  • Fellows at La Salle University created a 3D printing club to pique interest in entrepreneurship among students and establish a culture of making. The space features a white board where students can share new ideas and connect with others. In the future, the Fellows plan to collaborate with faculty on robotics and design thinking activities in the space.


Program Updates for 2015

  • Welcomed 274 of Fellows: 123 in Spring 2015 and 151 in Fall 2015.
  • Held largest (to-date) Annual Meetup, which took place at Google and Stanford’s d.school in February 2015 with 157 Fellows and 12 faculty sponsors. Participants learned design thinking and lean startup strategies and worked on collaborative projects.
  • Created two national initiatives:
    • #uifresh: launched in March with 10 campuses, #uifresh introduces incoming STEM students to innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and creativity. The number of campuses doubled to 20 in August by partnering with Epicenter’s Pathways to Innovation program.
    • Higher education commitment in honor of the first-ever White House Demo Day: 30 institutions committed to actions that will expand innovation and entrepreneurship education offerings in order to enhance the economic potential of colleges and universities and better prepare students to create products that benefit humankind.
  • Attended multiple conferences to share the impact of Fellows, including the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) for the first time. Members of Epicenter’s Research Team received two paper awards at the ASEE Annual Conference in Seattle, Wa.
  • Co-hosted two regional meetups at Kent State University (read one student’s perspective here) and James Madison University.

This is a high-level synopsis of 2015 and we’re excitedly looking toward the future and what 2016 will bring. Happy New Year!



Imagine, Create & Ignite: Building a Path to a Meaningful Future

STVP Future Fest 2015, Elon Musk

STVP Future Fest 2015, Elon Musk. Photo by Matt Beardsley.

by Francis Atore

As I sat in the Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University, I was in awe of the environment. The architecture of the hall plus the opportunity of being in the presence of influential people in attendance such as Bernie Roth and Heidi Roizen made me feel euphoric. As the talk began, Elon Musk, (founder of Tesla & SpaceX) and Steve Jurvetson (partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson) walked out on stage. Steve began to ask Elon a series of questions about the future of technology and even Mars! I was blown away at the moonshot thinking that the people  around me had. They spoke freely about audacious goals and progress for mankind with moxie and hope. They even discussed how artificial intelligence (AI) and genetics are projected to be the next major revolutionary fields. Talking cars, watches and phones were regarded as impossible 20 years ago and are now reality. Holograms were a fairytale, but with the emergence of developer environments such as leap motion, they are now reality (I guess fairytales come true)!  An episode of MTV cribs on Mars now seems far fetched, but how about we fast forward to 2035. Will the first episode feature a University Innovation Fellow?

The event was an incredible experience and encouragement to what I hope to achieve as a person who happens to be studying engineering. Hearing Elon Musk speak about the future and the opportunity to go after goals that are often difficult for most people to picture exemplifies the seed that was planted in me through the University Innovation Fellows program. We always need to think about how people imagined our present world in the past, then think about the present, then think about how we view the future, and then time travel to the future by making it happen. We don’t necessarily have to focus on one thing our whole lives, and don’t have to specialize in what we went to college for or what we have always done.  It’s ok to be regarded as crazy–at least we know it. The crazy ideas tend to have the best chance of changing the world, but we always need a community of realistic collaborators and friends to keep us streamlined.

Alexandra Seda (left) & Francis Atore (right) with their DIY Tesla waiting to enter STVP's Future Fest with guest Elon Musk.

Alexandra Seda (left) & Francis Atore (right) with their DIY Tesla waiting to enter STVP’s Future Fest with guest Elon Musk.

I entered the program as a creative hopeful with the outlook that I could accomplish little. However, through the program I’ve grown to outgrow the limited mentality I once had–the mindset that dreams could not come true if I did not have sufficient resources on hand. Now, after becoming a Fellow and having the opportunity to travel to California twice, gaining and sharing as much knowledge accumulated back to my campus; I know this is only the beginning.

Elon mentioned how he only focuses on solving problems that will have a significant impact on others. He is able to solve these problems with an extraordinary team of doers who have the capacity to imagine and believe. As a Fellow, I hope that I can ignite the freedom of imagination and belief in solving mankind’s challenges through empowering the students on my campus. As we analyze the world we live in and imagine the future, we need to identify the most interesting problems to solve that will develop a meaningful purpose in others. Secondly, prioritize the sequence in which we tackle problems based on the amount of resources that are readily available for each problem. Third, the notion that good people finish last is not true and does not have to be the case. We can always help others shine and succeed and still be successful.

STVP Future Fest 2015 with guest Elon Musk at Stanford University.

STVP Future Fest 2015 with guest Elon Musk at Stanford University. Photo by Matt Beardsley.

UIF’s mantra is, “We believe students can change the world!” As a Fellow, I firmly believe and stand by this . How do Fellows live out this mantra? We live it by creating/strengthening innovation spaces, entrepreneurship events, design thinking workshops, multi-school collaborations, and national partnerships in the hopes that these offerings will raise up curiously empowered problem solvers and selfless entrepreneurs all across America and the world. “We believe students can change the world.” Do you believe?

P.S. This has nothing to do with the talk, but you need to make sure that you have the RIGHT type of post its. That is, a number of 3 X 3 post it brands and not yellow (too generic), multi colored set. For more technical details consult Leticia, the POST IT guru.


Francis Atore, Texas Tech

Francis Atore, Texas Tech University

Francis is an honors college student studying
Chemical Engineering at Texas Tech. He is
engaging students in design thinking and
creativity through Do. Think. Make. events.








Alexandra Seda, Ohio Northern University

Alexandra Seda, Ohio Northern University

Alexandra Seda, Ohio Northern University

Alexandra is studying Electrical Engineering
at Ohio Northern University. She is working to
redesign spaces across campus to enhance
creative thinking in students.


White House Demo Day, Higher Education Commitment Letter

For Immediate Release
August 4, 2015

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

Higher education leaders send letters to President Obama

with commitment to expand innovation and entrepreneurship offerings

August 4, 2015 — In letters of commitment shared with President Barack Obama on the first-ever White House Demo Day, 30 institutions committed to actions that will expand innovation and entrepreneurship education offerings in order to enhance the economic potential of colleges and universities and better prepare students to create products that benefit humankind.

The White House Demo Day showcases talented innovators from across the country to demonstrate the value of giving all Americans the opportunity to pursue their bold, game-changing ideas. The event was hosted by President Obama and took place at the White House.

To support this effort, the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter) gathered institutional commitments to expand innovation and entrepreneurship education by means of a signed letter shared with President Obama on Demo Day. Epicenter is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell.

The letter collected signatures from leaders, faculty and students at 30 institutions. These supporters committed to one or more of eight key actions aimed at providing students of all majors on campus access to innovation and entrepreneurship learning opportunities. These commitments include advancing team-based learning that tackles real world problems, integrating underserved populations into the innovation ecosystem, celebrating faculty and student entrepreneurial outcomes, and supporting innovative faculty teaching practices.

Schools included in the initiative to date are:

  1. Bucknell University
  2. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
  3. Case Western Reserve University
  4. Clark Atlanta University
  5. Clark University
  6. Clemson University
  7. Georgetown University
  8. Illinois Institute of Technology
  9. New Mexico State University
  10. New York Institute of Technology
  11. New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering
  12. North Dakota State University
  13. Olin College of Engineering
  14. Temple University
  15. Tennessee Technological University
  16. Universidad del Turabo
  17. University of Alabama
  18. University of Maryland
  19. University of Michigan
  20. University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  21. University of New Haven
  22. University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  23. University of Oregon
  24. University of Pittsburgh
  25. University of Portland
  26. University of Texas Arlington
  27. University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
  28. William Jewell College
  29. Wingate University
  30. Albemarle County Public Schools (K12)

Five individuals representing Epicenter’s University Innovation Fellows program are attending the White House Demo Day in support of the letter. There, they will share the initiatives they are collaborating on with their school’s leaders to address the goals put forth in the letter.

This letter was supported by organizations including the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE), Engineers Without Borders and Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS).

Read the letter on the White House website.

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. 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 the Fostering Innovative Generations Studies research program that informs activities and contributes to national knowledge on entrepreneurship and engineering education. Learn more and get involved at epicenter.stanford.edu.

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 stvp.stanford.edu.

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 www.venturewell.org to learn how we inspire students, faculty and investors to transform game-changing ideas into solutions for people and the planet.

What Role Can Students Play in Attracting & Retaining their STEM Peers?

#BigBeacon Twitter Chat – April 22, 2015

Join the conversation at 8 p.m. EST.
Tweeting as @epicenterusa, using the #BigBeacon.

Preparing college graduates for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is a national education priority in the United States. According to a report published by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, fewer than 40 percent of students who enter college intending to major in a STEM field actually complete a STEM degree. Many organizations have been working to address this issue on the national level, and higher education administrators and faculty are working on ways to attract and retain more STEM students on an institutional level.

This article was originally posted on bigbeacon.org. To read the full post, please follow this link.