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Strangers Are Just Friends Waiting to Happen

How an interdisciplinary workshop changed our campus life 

By Janette Kaspar, University Innovation Fellow of FH Salzburg (Salzburg University of Applied Sciences)

In our ever-changing world we notice different perspectives and viewpoints from both ourselves and from our peers. It’s natural to have differences in ideas, concepts and executions, and there is always a reason and benefits. But do we, as students and teachers, take them into account?

It has never been more important to be able to work through unexpected situations, to be able to deal with changing environments and to understand each other on a whole new level. Studies have shown that people who broaden their horizons, and who can think outside the box, generally do better than those who stick to just one area throughout their lifetime.

That is where interdisciplinary workshops and design thinking come into play. We noticed at our institution that the different degrees and programs became separated during the pandemic (or perhaps never had been that interconnected to start with). Some peers didn’t even know that certain programs and workshops existed. We decided to change that in hopes of bringing the different degrees and people closer together. And that we did.

In the beginning of Fall 2021, we were able to participate in the first part of a conference held at our university. Many first-year students attended this event, so we decided to use this opportunity to act and promote UIF at FH Salzburg and amongst the new students.

One of our aims is to increase the level of participation and democratic voice students get to have in their own study experience. Thus we held a survey during the conference and received confirmation that a lot of students basically didn’t know each other, had no real connections and were unaware of all the different opportunities at our institution. They wanted more interdisciplinarity.

They also were asked to request topics for the second part of the conference, which was set for Spring 2022 and wished for specific topics that were hardly ever covered. We already had this feeling but seeing it in numbers hit us hard. We had to do something now. The idea of holding a workshop arose almost immediately.

Through our training and experience with UIF we slowly developed the idea to create a workshop as a third part of the conference: a space where students could collaborate and work on the lecture topics from the conference.

Our university gave us a lot of support to organize and develop the two-day event for the conference participants. The first day consisted of four different talks about four different aspects of our day-to-day life, to give the students a better and broader perspective. On the day of the conference, talks were chosen based on results of our survey from the conference part one in the Fall. Day two was our day.

Our cohort hosted an interdisciplinary workshop, as part of the conference with the same title “Climate.Change.Resilience” (but we called it the CCRxUIF workshop). Our workshop consisted of three major components. First we gave the participants an insight into the world of UIF. Inspired by the 2022 UIF Meetup at Stanford University, we did a little wake-up session with the help of some energizing stokes, we introduced the agenda for the day, showed them various creativity methods for the ideation phase that we had learnt from our experience as well as from the book Creative Acts for Curious People and held a brief presentation on Design Thinking. We explained UIF and design thinking to the students, showed them methods for brainstorming and introduced them to Design Thinking. But just these input talks and motivational words would not result in more innovative thinking and collaboration. So we had a special plan in mind. It was important to us that the participants would actually get the chance to apply the Design Thinking steps while working on some of the big questions posed in the talks the day before.

At the UIF Meetup, we were part of an unconference, where students decided what to talk about and how to talk about it. Other participants could decide to join whenever they wanted. We found the idea very interesting and decided to try something similar for our workshop.

Our university allowed us to use the small castle on university grounds to hold our workshop. Each room contained a challenging question that had been discussed during Day 1 of the conference — just a general question, no instructions, no directions. However, just like in the UIF Meetup session “Co-Creation Is the Ghost in the Machine,” we also created a recommended agenda for their time as a group that they could follow if they felt lost. 

We then asked our peers to pick their favorite, something that sparked their interest and something they would love to talk about. Assigning the groups that way resulted in different students, from different degrees, with different viewpoints to all come together to discuss one topic they all had an interest in. The results were interdisciplinary, vastly different and thoroughly mixed groups that got combined by passion.

With some light support on our side — we assigned buddies for every team — the groups worked on ideas, problems and solutions for the topics, identifying issues and coming up with creative ways to solve them.

To motivate our peers even further and keep the energy going, we held a “find-your-mate” type of game during lunch. The instructions had been given in the welcome bag. Each student received a bag at the beginning of the day containing a notebook, pens, stickers and a card. Each card had a game printed on it. Have you ever seen people doing a push up competition in the middle of lunchtime, or someone suddenly speaking anything but their mother tongue? Starting a big game of “Marco Polo”? We certainly did and it was a blast! 

After lunch, the groups finalized their work and presented what they had come up with. We heard about how to reduce pollution by equipping cargo ships with hydrogen motors, how higher education could change the way we think about our failures, how you can use AI and still be cautious with it, and many more ideas and future projects.

The workshop was a success. The students loved interdisciplinarity, working together and getting to know each other. The final presentations were also held in front of a representative of the rectorate, and we received a lot of positive feedback. The rectorate has now asked this to be an annual event as part of the conference for our first-year students, in order to ignite our university spirit and to bring interdisciplinary innovation to our institution.

We believe we can notice how people now come together more often for new projects, our university is becoming more and more lively every day.

We can see the change. We can see what UIF taught us and what we can give the students at our university. For us as fellows it is wonderful to see that we have an impact at our very own university and that we can help to bring that motivation to innovate and improve our peers. Design Thinking and innovation to our peers. We saw different viewpoints and offered them to the students. It is clear that some of them gained a new perspective.

The original article can be found in the Events section of the 2021-2022 Change Forward Journal— Visions and Voices of Higher Education’s Future.

Is an impactful life work life possible?

Create impact through your profession without owning an impact enterprise

by Zişan Özdemir, University Innovation Fellow from Boğaziçi University

When I was a newcomer at the Chemical Engineering department, it was quite disturbing for me to realize that I would be working for companies producing petroleum-based products. Because, I thought I was going to work in industries that don’t care about their damage to the environment. (At that time, my knowledge of chemical engineering consisted only of what was taught in lectures.) This awakening demotivated me for a while but it didn’t take too long.  

Thankfully, with the help of a schoolmate, I discovered alternative ways of using my major for better purposes. With impact-oriented experiences (projects, trainings, internships, etc.) I gained throughout my college life, I was able to shift my career to the field I wanted. Long story short, if you haven’t discovered impact-oriented career opportunities yet, I’m writing this article exactly for you!

“With the mindset shift to the cross-sectoral approach, we are more aware than ever before that the participation of all stakeholders, a collective transformation, is essential to fully achieve sustainable development.”

The combination of pandemic conditions and increasing social and environmental awareness has been a massive wake up call, and people got the opportunity to rethink their career choices. Many people began to feel the need to change their jobs and look for a “purpose” in what they do. When it comes to “purposeful” jobs, thankfully, it’s been a long time since the only way to make a social and environmental impact was volunteering for an NGO. However, we still witness far too many people rushing towards just one option: becoming an impact entrepreneur! Of course you may start your own impact-oriented business if you have an idea to solve real-world problems and make a profit at the same time. However, impact entrepreneurship is more than owning an impact-oriented business, it’s a mindset! (Yes, I’ve also been asked many times why I haven’t founded an impact venture yet. The answer is very simple: I still don’t have a solid idea and not everyone has to found a start-up.)

With the mindset shift to the cross-sectoral approach, we are more aware than ever before that the participation of all stakeholders, a collective transformation, is essential to fully achieve sustainable development. From government to non-profits to impact ventures to venture capitals to academia, and the rest of the traditional for-profits, there’s a role for all organizations to contribute to the transition to sustainability. It’s a must! Therefore, you can make an impact as a policy-maker, impact investor, sustainability consultant, academician or intrapreneur. (We can extend this list as long as we want.) But first, you have to decide why and for what you want to make an impact. (Climate change? Poverty? Inequalities? Human rights?…) Which problem in the world is bothering you the most?

Besides all these, of course, you don’t need to have “sustainability” or “impact” in your title to make an impact in your position. There’s a growing number of impact enterprises or corporate companies that truly care about sustainability and impact out there. If you sincerely believe in the company’s mission and vision and if you enjoy the working conditions associated with the company’s culture, you may genuinely find fulfillment by joining such an organization, which is one of the alternative ways to use your expertise to make an impact.

In an ideal world we expect everyone to look after society and the environment in what they do, but I’ve tried to compile ways we can do our best until we get closer to the ideal (based on my own experiences). I believe we will achieve better as we demand. (fingers crossed!)

I’ve found my way to create impact by managing the carbon footprint of companies as a sustainability consultant @3pmetrics, and I want to contribute to decarbonization more and more!  

F

Finding a Great Team

A great team can help us shine and tackle problems effectively

By Macarena Oyague, Marcela Yeckle, Mia Townsend and Mirella Rivas—University Innovation Fellows from Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología

Being inspired all the time is difficult even for creative people. It is a hard reality we’ve come to realize because, despite our urge to create a positive impact in every person that crosses our path, at times we may feel like our motivation can falter, becoming a never ending storm in which negative aspects are eclipsing our desire to change the world. And this is a completely normal feeling. Also, at some point in our lives, we may be facing difficult situations in personal matters as well as in the professional side. Sometimes we may even feel alone trying to overcome this, but surrounding ourselves with colleagues that can match those pieces of your soul can help you to overcome every situation and make you believe that the rainbow at the end of every storm will appear. Digging even more in this topic, an inspirational teamwork is not about a competition to discover which star is shining more. On the contrary, it is about sharing our inner light with someone who needs it the most at a particular time. 

It is human to feel that someone has qualities that you admire, but it is also human to accept that you also have qualities that someone else would admire. The key to making a great team is to identify and appreciate the different abilites each person has and help them in the one they need to improve. Maybe one person can be the best at speaking in front of people but is not so good at managing bad news, and someone else could be capable of creating peace in chaos but is too shy to express their ideas. Together, they can improve all the difficulties, and that is the kind of empowerment we found at the time we start working as a team. 

Inspiration is about empowering the people around us to find their own path and be happy. We know that this can be seen as an idealistic philosophy, but it is seen in that way because there are always people who try to turn off the light in others. We are conscious that it is difficult to continue if someone is telling you that you won’t succeed. 

In our particular case and story, all of us have known each other for a short amount of time, but ever since we had started to work together in different initiatives, workshops, projects and even talking about life itself, we came to realize that this philosophy made us achieve a lot and learn as well. We inspire each one of us through difficulties in work and life, and come with crazy and amazing different ideas to overcome anything. This is the kind of group you can be with and think that you can overcome anything that comes in your way. 

Designing ideas and projects involves working harder. For that reason, you need to know that envy and competition are something that will always be there by the ones that only want themselves to succeed. We as a team, Mia, Mirella, Marcela and Macarena, have discovered a helpful insight to you: find a great team that helps you to literally shine with your inner selves and make you believe that at the end of every storm a rainbow will appear. 

The original article can be found in the Perspectives section of the 2021-2022 Change Forward Journal— Visions and Voices of Higher Education’s Future.

Emancipated Impact for Indonesia

Bridging Indonesia students to government funded opportunities with Kampus Merdeka

By Nurrizky Imani, Vincent Junition Ungu, Elan Yudhoprakoso, Fajar Kenichi Kusumah Putra—University Innovation Fellows from Universitas Gadjah Mada

As students, we never imagined that the lessons we learned in University Innovation Fellows would have such a profound effect on our fellow students. Ever since the very first training session, our Universitas Gadjah Mada team has been functioning below its potential. Due to everyone’s busy schedules outside of UIF, we regularly fell behind the target. Because of everyone’s varied schedules, we occasionally had to catch up on last week’s work. We even sometimes wonder if we’ll be able to sustain the impact beyond the UIF leadership period as we near the end of the training. It turns out, we underestimated how much it would grow.

“We discovered a missing piece of the puzzle in our community regarding how students have strong technical skills but insufficient work experience.”

During the most recent training, we developed an ambitious plan to establish three strategic priorities on campus. We thought it was too ambitious and the fact that Nurrizky, one of our fellows, was leading the UIF UGM in a different time zone  12 hours while on exchange at the University of Pennsylvania. In the end we develop these three priorities : 1) Creating a space for students to obtain industry internships. 2) Providing students with mentoring opportunities for preparing them for international experience through exchange students. 3) Creating an environment where students can learn about product engineering jobs and opportunities.

Our strategic objectives were determined by what we had learned as product engineering students in technology. We discovered a missing piece of the puzzle in our community regarding how students have strong technical skills but insufficient work experience. This has become an endless loop from which students cannot escape. On the other hand, we discovered that the Indonesian Ministry of Education is pushing a massive program called “Kampus Merdeka,” which translates to “Emancipated Campus,” to encourage students to learn off-campus via internship and exchange program. 

This allowed us to test our first strategic objective, “Mentoring Kampus Merdeka: Internship,” in which we established a mentorship program to assist students in obtaining their first internship. This mentoring program instructs mentees on how to compose a personal branding and interview. During the implementation, we were able to identify nine mentors with various business and engineering responsibilities. In addition, 42 individuals signed up to be mentors, and 18 students were selected as their mentees. With only one month of mentoring, we provide the students with learning activities and modules that give them a comprehensive understanding of each interview process. This Mentoring assists mentees in obtaining their initial internship. After 5 months, 75% of our mentees were offered internships. Our first endeavor has inspired us to make a second significant contribution. 

On our second priority called “Mentoring Kampus Merdeka: Exchange”,  we assisted students in applying for the Indonesia International Student Mobility Awards (IISMA). This mentoring program provided students with the opportunity to study at partner universities outside of Indonesia, including the University of Pennsylvania, Melbourne University, UC Davis, and more than 50 other institutions. UIF UGM created a mentorship program that assists students with the review of their essays and each step of the activity, such as the interview and test administration. We were able to attract up to 30 mentees and assist  20 students during the second round of applications for this mentorship. We were ultimately able to help 10 students be accepted in the program. It was remarkable that ten students were able to gain international experience in world class universities. This simple, cost-free but powerful mentorship has helped students have their best college experience.  

The impact of UIF UGM has led to unimaginable opportunities for students in our campus, and this has led them to a new journey of learning opportunities. This impact was not something that we expected in the first time and this led us to be excited with our next impact both on campus and also in other communities.  You can check our impact in instagram on @uif.ugm 

The original article can be found in the Operations and Student Life section of the 2021-2022 Change Forward Journal— Visions and Voices of Higher Education’s Future.

Diseña Tu Vida Universitaria

How can we help students design a fulfilling university experience?

By Valeria Aguayo, Danae Chipoco Haro and Diego Muñoz—University Innovation Fellows from Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología

I’m excited, it is the first week of the semester. I’m going to study a lot, I’m not going to fail any course. I think about the classes I’m taking, I hope to have good professors. “You must take the most of college to find a good job” says Mom. But one part of me doesn’t want to work. What is a “good job” anyway? It is the first week of the semester and I’m excited, yet at the same time afraid.

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Thinking about the future

During our freshman year, we don’t know much about the various activities and programs that our institutions can offer. Sometimes we are even overwhelmed by the information and some of it gets lost. But at the same time, we want to enjoy this time because we know it is going to be unique. Not all of us get to immerse ourselves in activities that will drive us closer to our goals. Some of us are trapped between classes and assignments. We think constantly about the future, but we cannot plan it.

Design Thinking for Life

Design thinking is a methodology to create and develop solutions. It has become one of the most used methodologies when designing prototypes and innovative services or at the moment we launch our first start-up. This human-centered process has allowed many companies to discover unsatisfied needs of their customers and improve their products. 

If design thinking has helped companies to succeed, could it do the same with our lives?

We can approach life planning through several ways. Design thinking sparks our curiosity and invites us to learn from others and ourselves; set us into a constant iterative process allowing us to learn fast and improve. Many times, our lives are not a straight line path and our problems are not resolved by consecutive steps. We are complex beings with many wishes and interests. We change all the time, as we discover new things. Thus, we need a plan with multiple options and objectives. By developing several life plans we have the chance of imaging different paths, each of them exciting in a unique way. In this way, we learn what works.

With the objective of showing freshman students these tools, we invited them to think about what they want and how they want to do it,to evaluate the different opportunities that college offers to take the most of it. Above all, give them confidence to take risks, try new things, to think as a designer and to build their path.

To show these tools to college freshmen, we invite them to reflect on what they want to do and how they want to do it, evaluate the various opportunities college presents to them to decide how to make the best use of their time there. Specially, give them the security to dare to take risks, try new things, think like a designer and build their way step by step.

Hands on!

Inspired by the books Creative Confidence and Designing Your Life, we discovered several tools to apply them in the design of university life and professional career. The first challenge was to select a few and how to present it to freshmen in a short time.

One of the distorted thoughts is the belief of finding a passion to dedicate yourself to it as your occupation. This generates fear or insecurity in people who enjoy doing different activities and do not know which one to choose as a “passion”, or others who do not believe they have found it yet. Therefore, we decided to start with an introduction to remove that fear and give them the confidence to find their occupations without having a passion in mind. Then, we went with them through three activities.

  1. Take part in meaningful activities. Before forming life plans, it is necessary to get to know ourselves and what we like to do. For this reason, we presented this part of the workshop, in which a diary of different activities carried out on a day-to-day basis is made and different comments are written about them. In addition, the level of commitment you feel with these activities and how much energy it demands or gives you is evaluated. This is how the students were able to get to know each other better through their day-to-day life.
  2. Build a north. If you want to pursue a journey, its because you want to enjoy all of it, not just one part of it. In the case of life plans, we want to create paths we will enjoy in all aspects important to us. But how do we know that? First we need to know what is important to us, and how we will treat those important aspects of our life. In this activity, students were given several questions regarding their occupation, hobbies, interpersonal relationships to guide their thoughts and how to best complement them.
  3. Design several futures. After the students get to know themselves better, we encourage them to plan their next five years. First they had to think about a plan with the resources they currently had. Then, they were asked to forget their constraints and focus only on what they wanted. To help them evaluate their plans, indicators were added at the bottom of the activity sheet: resources needed, how much they liked it, confidence, and coherence between the plan and what they have learned about themselves in previous activities.
  4. Identifying doubts. When thinking about our future plans it is normal to have doubts about them: am I ready for this? Are there job opportunities within my city/country? Are people currently working on the field fairly paid? But what’s important is to solve our doubts. Thus, we created a space for students to write down their doubts and solve some of them (the ones we could) among the people in the workshop. Finally we encourage them to talk with people that have done things related to their plans to solve their doubts.
Credit: Ariana Beraun Gasco

What have we learned along the way?

Most universities seek an integral education of their students and give them several opportunities for complementing their technical formation.

However, the way of communicating opportunities is usually not adequate. In addition, the number of opportunities can overwhelm the students and decrease their focus to take advantage of them.

Therefore, it is important for students to have spaces to think about what they want to do or what they want to try, so that they can take the most of this experience. Moreover, college is an important space for discovering new things and getting to know themselves better. As a result, it is common for students to change their goals along their years. Thus, developing these life plans at several stages of their career help them to focus on what they want. Moreover, allows them to identify questions and doubts which motivates them to solve and allows students to gain confidence to pursue their goals.

What Now?

A team of University Innovation Fellows at UTEC started the program “Diseña Tu Vida Universitaria” to teach students at several levels of higher education design thinking tools to plan their lives. This creates spaces to connect students at several stages and disciplines with alumni. Moreover, it facilitates experiences for students to get closer to different professional paths in their fields of interest that helps them in their career choices.

The original article can be found in the Events section of the 2021-2022 Change Forward Journal— Visions and Voices of Higher Education’s Future.

How Might Education Change to Prepare for the Future?

And what role does the workforce play?

By Harrison Kellick, University Innovation Fellow from University of Technology Sydney

Looking towards the future of work, technology should only replace or automate what we don’t need to think about. Human-centric skills cannot be programmed and will continue to grow in importance. I spoke with Humera Fasihuddin at the 2022 University Innovation Fellows (UIF) meetup at Stanford University, she said that “90% of problems are human problems [and] there are some tech problems that’ll require a human touch too.”

The pace of education is failing to keep up with the rapidly changing skills market. As universities typically offer long term study, with courses of three to five years, there is little room for integration of current in-demand skills. Interest is growing for the just-in-time learning approach, which may address the shortcomings of traditional educational institutes by delivering training on an as-needed basis for the learner. Learning is heading towards short form content or micro-credentials, in intensive and practical bursts to match industry needs, which can be referred to as flexible learning.

The rapid transition to online learning throughout the COVID-19 pandemic brought competition between education institutions to a global stage. For the first time, individuals can now complete micro-credentials based anywhere in the world from the comfort of their own home. The market is crowded by organizations targeting flexibility and costs, such as LinkedIn Learning and Coursera, driving up competition. Despite promoting fewer barriers to entry, these platforms are still in their adolescence and continue to struggle with financial and accessibility barriers.

Another emerging problem is the disconnect between secondary education, tertiary education, and the workforce. Secondary education fosters an environment in which students compete against one another for their rank and final mark, only to join a workforce dominated by teamwork and collaboration. Ise Lyfe’s and Bre Przestrzelski’s workshop at the UIF meetup ‘Co-creating is the ghost in the machine behind great design’, explored our human desire to be independent by nature through the lens of puberty. A child is heavily reliant on their parents for everything, whereas a teenager has a drive to be their own person. However, once independence is reached, many people stop there. My favorite quote from this session was “Independence is childish, and maturity is being interdependent with one another.”

A crucial step in the transformation of education is for organizations and industries to be more vocal about what they are looking for in a candidate. For example, a consultation company in the United Kingdom is now hiring school students in listings that call for transferable skills that students already possess, such as a knack for organization. This allows them to avoid competing for graduate talent and provides emphasis on the crucial role of human-centric skills in the workplace. Similarly, organizations are partnering with tertiary education to develop work-integrated learning, where students receive credit for work experience. When organizations are vocal, they help break student perceptions and highlight that flexible education is a legitimate and welcome pathway. Educational institutions will need to integrate flexible approaches to keep up with the rapidly changing paradigm of work.

To explore this, the UTS UIF 2020 team have curated workshops highlighting important skills of the future and how students can develop them, and have recently embarked on a project encouraging students to develop a portfolio that evidences these skills. As I approach the end of my degree and transition into the workforce, I’m interested in exploring new perspectives within this system and the impact that reflexivity or self-awareness has on a student’s experience joining the workforce.

I encourage you to consider what role you play in this evolving complex system; how might we encourage active, life-long learning?

The original article can be found in the Perspectives section of the 2021-2022 Change Forward Journal — Visions and Voices of Higher Education’s Future. 

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.

Do-Think-Make: Engage in Design Thinking & Creativity at Texas Tech

The Texas Tech University Innovation Fellows, composed of Marshall Head, Victoria Young, Valente Rodriguez, Taylor Persons, Francis Atore and Benjamin Simmons, were able to host an innovative thinking event on their university campus called Do-Think-Make. This event was similar to the activities at the recent University Innovation Fellows 2015 Annual Meetup.

The goal of the Do-Think-Make event was to:

  1. Encourage cross-pollination of ideas and information between students of different backgrounds
  2. Help students overcome the challenges brought about by being in unfamiliar situations and environments
  3. Show a fun and exciting way design thinking could be presented

Event participants composed of 40 students from the Honors College, engineering, wind sciences and South Plains College. The Do-Think-Make event was sponsored by the Edward E. Whitacre College of Engineering, National Wind Institute, Honors College, Group NIRE and South Plains College.

Held on April 18th from 10 am to 2 pm, the Do-Think-Make event began with a rock paper scissors warm-up, whereby the loser became a fan of the winning team until only two teams are left at the end. The students also took part in a table activity where they were asked to come up with eight ways to improve the innovative ecosystem on their campus. They then chose an idea they liked best and expanded on the idea. The table then voted on one another’s idea and the table clustered as a team around the idea with the most votes. The final idea was then graphically prototyped and pitched by the table to the rest of the groups. It was observed that innovative spaces were a popular theme, with 60% of the groups choosing it as their project of choice.

The students were then engaged in a creative sound exercise where they imitated and created new sounds with their peers, namely sound ball. Sound ball had the highest reviews, due to the fact that it initiated the most laughs and challenges. STEM majors do not often practice sound creation and imitation, and may be one reason it was the most challenging; however, it was also named as the “most fun” portion of the overall event.

At the end, as the students were taking part in a maker space design challenge, that constituted a physical prototype, we were joined by a member of the community who is currently in the process of building a community maker space. This member of the community was able to witness the raw energy of the students as they conveyed their needs and interests. The community maker space, namely Ubiquitous Labs, is envisioned to promote local entrepreneurs and complement design education in the local schools. The event then ended with a wind turbine challenge where students were given 45 minutes to design a wind turbine for a building.

The amount of ideas and prototypes generated within the 5 hour period was immense, but even more important were the bonds that were generated and ideas that were exchanged. It is currently a great time for the Lubbock community, as new technologies and practices emerge. Companies such as Wayne Brown Institute are collaborating with emerging startups to help them understand their venture readiness, while organizations such as Lubbock Economic Development Alliance (LEDA) are providing resources and incentives to retain innovative businesses. As departmental and community stakeholders continue to merge their strengths, the region will continue to grow, resulting in a lasting positive impact.

Penned by the South Plains College & Texas Tech University Innovation Fellows

/pen/ verb. past tense: penned
write or compose.

Virginia is for Makers*

Bluestonehacks 5*A play on Virginia’s state motto, “Virginia is for Lovers.”

We kicked off our roadtrip strong, driving 5 hours through 5 states – MA, CT, NY, NJ, and PA – before stopping in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to get some Zzzs. Our biggest priority was to get to James Madison University to join their first-ever, student-led 24-hour hackathon, Bluestone Hacks. Participants of the hackathon had started innovating about the time we hit the road Friday night (6 p.m. on Friday, April 17) and were up all night developing their ideas, building working prototypes, and honing their final presentations.

BluestoneHacks1

On Saturday, we arrived at Memorial Hall eager to see the students present their ideas in one of three categories: food and agriculture, health and medicine, or consumer goods and products. Humera Fasihuddin (co-lead of the Fellows program) was invited to judge the food and agriculture category. We arrived to an open auditorium with roughly 60 participants and tables covered in prototyping materials, computers, food and red bull. The participants’ 24 hours was up, and it was time to present their final ideas.

JudgesPanelFourteen teams had formed and had 5 minutes to present with an additional 2 minutes of Q&A from the panel of judges. The teams had developed ideas from aiding local food producers market where they would be selling local produce to gym powered greenhouses to apps organizing medical emergency information to a mobile solution for HR companies on-boarding their new hires. The winner of Bluestone Hacks was Volterre, a mobile app designed to predict epidemics. The software monitors moods, social networks and google searches in a geo-targeted location to identify the spread of sickness in order to avoid epidemics. The winner was a senior at JMU studying physics.BluestoneHacks-Winners

Bluestone Hacks was an amazing event, and the fact that 5 Fellows organized the entire experience in less than one month and raised $8,000 from sponsors in two weeks is highly impressive.

20150419_141902Sunday was an entirely different atmosphere. We took hit the road an hour south to Charlottesville, VA, to meet up with our University of Virginia Fellows and their faculty sponsor, David Chen. After an amazing lunch and tour in beautiful downtown Charlottesville, after which we hit the infamous TomTom Festival. In short, the TomTom festival is a celebration of founders, named after one of our nation’s original founders Thomas Jefferson. A celebration of the startup, creative and innovative talent in Virginia, the TomTom Festival is a two-week shindig incorporating art, music, food and innovation in a fabulous outdoor neighborhood street-fair setting.
20150419_142035

GeniusHourThere, we attended the Genius Hour — an event for makers of all ages — and saw many K12 and collegiate-level projects. It was described as “…a celebration of tech enthusiasts, crafters,  educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, artists, and students.” We had the opportunity to meet one of the organizers, Nate, a senior at UVa, who reached out to TomTom Fest organizers and pulled together the community to exhibit their creativity. As a program, we had heard we were making a difference (from both faculty sponsors and Fellows), but we were blown-away as community members recognized our University Innovation Fellows t-shirts at TomTom Fest.

ICEMakerHouse

After a wonderful afternoon at UVa, we headed back to JMU to have dinner and tour of the ICE House and ICE Maker House. The ICE House is a hub of resources providing students with access to resources for startups and small businesses, a maker space (ICE Maker House) and iterative learning experiences.

PinningCeremony-PresentationJMUPinningCeremony-Pres

Fast forward to Monday afternoon. Humera and I were invited to attend our first pinning ceremony with the JMU Fellows, their faculty sponsor Nick Swayne, President Jonathan Alger and his wife, Mary Anne Alger. Fellows Chris Ashley, Timothy Moore, Emily Pratt and Jack O’Neil gave an amazing presentation on their work as Fellows. We were extremely proud of their ability to articulate their vision and describe the enhancements they wanted to see on JMU’s campus.

And now, we’re on our way to Kent State University to our Fellows Robin Bonatesta, Sravan Kumar, Tapti Saha and Matthew Allen. We have put nearly 800 miles behind us, with many more to go!

Cheers,

Humera and Katie

Pictured Below: James Madison University Fellows: Chris Ashley, Jack O’Neil, Emily Platt, and Timothy Moore; Nick Swayne, Faculty Sponsor; and Humera & Katie.PinningCeremony-UswiththeCoolKids

Pictured Below: University of Virginia Fellows: Ben Matthews, Angela Liu, Katie Kan, Rachel Smith, Anish Dalal, Dasha Tyshlek; David Chen, Faculty Sponsor, and his beautiful children Sofia and Austin; Katie and Humera, along with Humera’s children Noah, Aliya and Jeremiah.UVA-GroupPhoto

Read all posts in this series here:

UIF Roadtrip April 2015

Virginia is for Makers

Just Kent Get Enough

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.

A Trip to Georgia Tech

Amin Mojtahedi,  UW Milwaukee

Amin Mojtahedi, UW Milwaukee

 


This article was written by Amin Mojtahedi, a University Innovation Fellow Candidate at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Amin is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Architecture and was visiting the Georgia Tech campus for one week at the end of January. See his full bio here
.

 

 

As part of an architectural study for Georgia Tech (GT), I had the chance to spend the entire last week on the GT campus exploring places related to the landscape of innovation and entrepreneurship

Georgia Tech Invention Studio

Georgia Tech Invention Studio

(I&E). One of my most memorable visits was to the Invention Studio at the Manufacturing Related Disciplines Complex where Alexis, a PhD candidate in Electrical Engineering, gave me a comprehensive tour of the facility. The Invention Studio was a student-run maker space where the opportunity for students to design, prototype and share was provided through workshops, experienced student “masters” in about 13 areas, and access to a wide range of materials and impressive cutting edge machinery including computer controlled machines (e.g., 3D printers, 3D scanners, laser engraving and cutting machines, waterjet, etc.), powered manual machines (e.g., bandsaw, injection molding, drill press, etc.) electronics equipment, and hand tools. In the fifth year of its operation, the Invention Studio has about 170 members and is opening branches in other schools on campus. Despite the rapid growth, members still bond over video games and move nights in the comfy lounge equipped with a large screen right across the Studio.

Amin_PicCollage1

IDClogo

Innovation & Design Collaborative, Georgia Tech

Perhaps the most exciting part of the trip was meeting the GT three UIFs: Megna, a 5th year Biomedical Engineer; Alex, a 3rd year Mechanical Engineer; and Rachel, a 5th year Biomedical Engineer. We all first met at the Starbucks in the architecturally impressive Clough Learning Commons. Later, Megna and Alex kindly gave me a complete tour of the Innovation & Design Collaborative in the GT library. IDC, or Design Block as Megna liked to call it, was an intelligently designed 4,000 sqf space with a variety of furniture from playful foam cubes to customized tall studio-like desks for group work. A Unistrut ceiling and racks provide drop-down access to electrical utility for users to be able to plug in while being in their desired spot and white boards were everywhere. With Wayne Li’s help, the space and program were designed after Stanford’s d.school. I concluded the tour by participating in Wayne’s class on Contextual Awareness – as one of the five tenets the 21st century creative thinker can use to disrupt markets and drive innovation. IDC’s space is open to GT students 24/7 and is currently holding workshops while providing resources for learning Design Behavior.

Amin_PicCollage2

 

 

 

 

Fellows Mid-Atlantic Regional Meetup: University of Maryland and Washington D.C.

Originally published by Epicenter

PRESS RELEASE: NATIONAL STUDENT ORGANIZATION HOSTS EVENT ON INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN HIGHER EDUCATION

The University Innovation Fellows Mid-Atlantic Regional Meetup will take place November 1 – 2, 2014, at the University of Maryland and in downtown Washington, DC.

October 28, 2014

The University Innovation Fellows, a national student organization, will host a regional event at the University of Maryland and in downtown Washington, DC, focusing on innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education.

The University Innovation Fellows Mid-Atlantic Regional Meetup will take place November 1-2, 2014. Fellows from across the country will join students from the University of Maryland to participate in experiential activities focusing on entrepreneurial thinking, creativity, design thinking and community engagement.

This event is hosted by the University Innovation Fellows program in collaboration with Fellows from the University of Maryland who designed the two-day program: Atin Mittra (Aerospace Engineering B.S. ‘14), Valerie Sherry (Architecture M.A. ‘15) and Meenu Singh (Civil Engineering B.S. ‘14).

“Our goal is to get participants thinking about innovation and entrepreneurship in new, inclusive ways that challenge the traditional assumptions of what it means to integrate these fields within higher education,” said Meenu Singh, one of the three Fellows organizing the event.

The Fellows are a national community of student leaders who help students at their schools learn about innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity, design thinking and venture creation. The program is run by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), which is funded by the National Science Foundation.

“Student engagement is the key to a vibrant and growing innovation ecosystem, yet many institutions struggle to inspire and activate their student body with top-down efforts,” said Humera Fasihuddin, leader of the University Innovation Fellows program for Epicenter. “Students, on the other hand, have been especially successful at igniting their campus culture across all majors. This event will be an opportunity for students to share best practices and develop new ideas.”

The theme of the event is “Creative Collisions” to help students incorporate innovation and entrepreneurship into all facets of student life and across all areas of study. The event is a collaborative experience that will allow participants to learn from practices at the University of Maryland and share insights from their home institutions.

Activities on November 1 will take place at the University of Maryland and include a creativity workshop, a discussion with administrators on partnerships with students, a campus scavenger hunt and a business model activity. Activities on November 2 will take place in downtown Washington, DC, and include a design challenge, visits to co-working spaces and points of interest, and a movement workshop on the National Mall.

A full schedule of activities is available upon request.

Media contact:
Laurie Moore
Communications Manager, Epicenter
(650) 561-6113
llhmoore@stanford.edu

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 http://epicenter.stanford.edu/.

Hypothesis Affirmed! Greenville, SC Ignited By Southeastern Regional Meetup

Last week, we tested our hypothesis that we could bring together a group of Fellows with other college students interested in creativity, innovation and design thinking and replicate the energy of our Annual Meetup at Google and Stanford at a place very far from Silicon Valley. We chose Greenville, South Carolina. Why? Because two of our star University Innovation Fellows happen to be in that region: Ben Riddle of Furman University, and Bre Przestrzelski of Clemson University, and their amazingly supportive faculty sponsors Ross McClain (Department Chair, Art, Furman) and John Desjardin (Associate Professor, Bioengineering, Clemson). What ensued gave strong support to our hypothesis.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/epicenterusa/sets/72157648089466547/player/

Ben and Bre’s work analyzing the Furman and Clemson Innovation & Entrepreneurship ecosystem informed their strategic plans to enhance that ecosystem (Furman Student Priorities, Clemson Student Priorities). They completed this work last year, over a 6-week WebEx-based program to become University Innovation Fellows and, as part of their training, flew to Google Headquarters and Stanford’s world-renowned d.school (the Hasso Plattner Design Institute). Over three days, 88 Fellows from all over the nation soaked up the innovation culture in Silicon Valley and discussed ways to lead a movement in student innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship on their campuses (March 2014 agenda, and photos). The Annual Meetup was transformative; both Ben and Bre saw the opportunity to replicate the magic and attract peers on campus.

Again, why Greenville? Program leaders, over the year that followed, discovered just how cool of a community Greenville, SC is, as both Fellows reported back the success and overwhelming support they received from institutional and community leaders. Greenville has a strong history of public-private partnership dating back to the entrepreneurial Mayor Max, under whose leadership the city attracted a major Hotel Chain and narrowed a four-lane thoroughfare into the charming downtown Main Street filled with great restaurants, culture, art and more. So, when the pair invited Epicenter and its founders, Stanford University and VentureWell, to co-facilitate design thinking and lean startup sessions with local experts, program leaders enthusiastically agreed. Thus was born the plan for the…

Southeastern Regional Meetup, Hosted by Clemson University and Furman University

SEregionalsmallEpicenter organizers, University Innovation Fellow program leaders and Fellows flew in from California, Massachusetts, Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, New York and the Virgin Islands. Fellows drove from North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and even as far away as Michigan and Massachusetts! They were joined by 20 Furman and 20 Clemson students. All had one thing in common: a desire to learn the techniques of design thinking and lean startup, two approaches used to develop strong human-centered ideas and develop scalable business models around them. Using real-world issues from the Greenville community, students applied new-found techniques in observation, empathy, brainstorming, prototyping, customer segmentation & value proposition development.

Students developed low-resolution prototypes and articulated real opportunities to improve Greenville – a more friendly main street and redesigning the eating experience. Students learned by doing and they discovered that their entrepreneurial mindset could be honed on real-world challenges in their local community. On the flip side, community members saw students as motivated and capable individuals who bring a fresh-perspective and an open mind to arrive at highly innovative and achievable solutions to their challenges. One student openly remarked during the debrief, “I learned more this weekend than in the entire semester,” a sentiment often heard by many who first encounter hands-on and experiential learning opportunities. The mood at the reception with community and academic leaders was one you’d see at a sporting event, as evident by the Bear Ninja Cowboy video posted below. This kind of enthusiasm for learning can transform our nation’s higher education institutions. We look forward to replicating this success in Washington D.C. and at UMD on November 1st and 2nd, ringing in National Entrepreneurship Month with an invitation only Meetup for 100 University Innovation Fellows. More on that soon!

~ Humera Fasihuddin, Co-director, University Innovation Fellows (on behalf of Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, Katie Dzugan & Laurie Moore)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olFpcx6x4Z8&w=560&h=315]

A Big THANK YOU to our Collaborators and Supporters

We are extremely grateful to the many local community members, without whom, this past weekend would not have been possible:

Design Thinkers Group USA, especially Joel, Marc and Susan, for their tremendous efforts in co-designing and co-facilitating a two-day experiential learning experience with our colleague Leticia Britos Cavagnaro from Stanford.

John Desjardin, Clemson, for his awesome giant room-sized Business Model Canvas exercise, imparting Lean Startup skills to participants in an experiential way (and his moral support).

Ross McClain, Furman, for forging an unprecedented partnership between a liberal arts institution and a major research university (and his moral support).

OpenWorks, for being so accommodating and allowing us to use their open work space for our activities on Friday (see agenda below).

Greenville Health System, especially to Robin, for joining us to discuss what you should never do in an interview — and making it funny.

Clemson MBA at ONE, for giving us access to their swanky new space on Main Street.

Also a special shout out to Envision SC, the Spiro Institute, Ten at the Top, SCBio and all of our additional facilitators and guests of honor.

Fellows Southeastern Regional Meetup Collaborators and Sponsors

Fellows Southeastern Regional Meetup Collaborators and Sponsors

Fellows Southeastern Regional Meetup Agenda

Fellows Southeastern Regional Meetup Agenda

58 U.S. Students Named University Innovation Fellows by NSF-Funded Epicenter

For Immediate Release
October 2, 2014

58 U.S. Students Named University Innovation Fellows by NSF-Funded Epicenter

Palo Alto, CA – Fifty-eight students from 26 higher education institutions across the United States have been named University Innovation Fellows by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter).

The University Innovation Fellows program empowers students to become agents of change at their schools. The Fellows are a national community of students in engineering and related fields who work to ensure that their peers gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to compete in the economy of the future. To accomplish this, the Fellows advocate for lasting institutional change and create opportunities for students to engage with entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, design thinking and venture creation at their schools.

This new cohort of Fellows brings the total number to 168 Fellows from 85 schools. The program is run by Epicenter, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell (formerly NCIIA).

“It is so critical for students to have an entrepreneurial mindset in today’s economy. They need more than just technical skills to solve the big problems our world is facing,” said Humera Fasihuddin, leader of the University Innovation Fellows program for Epicenter.

“This mindset helps students learn to be flexible, resilient, creative, empathetic. They learn how to identify and frame problems rather than simply solving what’s put in front of them. With these skills, students will be able to leave school better prepared to tackle challenges and create new and fulfilling jobs for themselves and others.”
Individual Fellows as well as teams of Fellows are sponsored by faculty and administrators at their schools and selected through an application process twice annually. Following acceptance into the program, students complete six weeks of online training, where they connect with their new network, examine their current entrepreneurial ecosystems and formulate action plans to implement their ideas. Throughout the year, they take part in events and conferences across the country and have opportunities to learn from one another, Epicenter mentors, and leaders in academia and industry.

Fellows have created student design and maker spaces, founded entrepreneurship clubs and organizations, worked with faculty to design courses, and hosted events and workshops. In the last academic year alone, Fellows created 553 activities, 22 new spaces and 65 innovation and entrepreneurship resources at their schools.

“Fellows are having a powerful impact at their schools,” Fasihuddin said. “They are working alongside students, faculty and their university leaders to help all students learn an entrepreneurial mindset, dream big and pursue their career aspirations.”

Learn more about the University Innovation Fellows at http://epicenter.stanford.edu/university-innovation-fellows and http://www.dreamdesigndeliver.org.

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 http://epicenter.stanford.edu/.

Media contact:
Laurie Moore
Communications Manager, Epicenter
(650) 561-6113
llhmoore@stanford.edu

Epicenter-NSF-Stanford-VW-logos-stacked

Summer 2014 Updates

Dear Fellows,

We can hardly believe that school is back in session – and we’re almost half way through training! We hope all of you enjoyed your summer endeavors and are settling back into campus life and managing your course loads this fall. As we catch up with you individually, we’d like to recap what we have been up to this summer:

National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges for Engineering
April 30 – June 1, 2014

UIFs & Dan Mote, National Academy of Engineering

UIFs & Dan Mote, National Academy of Engineering

Our first event of the summer was hosted at the National Academy of Engineering in Washington D.C. During these two days, Fellows discussed the 14 Grand Challenges identified by the Grand Challenge Scholar’s Program (GCSP) alongside deans from institutions across the country. Karuna Relwani (UPitt) presented on the student panel with students from Engineers Without Borders (EWB), Engineering Projects In Community Service (EPICS) and the GCSP. Each student discussed their experience with these programs at their institution and also their key learnings from being exposed to experiential engineering. Megna Saha (Georgia Tech), Mary Wilcox (ASU Tempe), Yifan Ge (Bucknell), Valerie Sherry (UMD College Park), Ben Riddle (Furman), Lauren Distler (James Madison), Natalia von Windheim (NC State) and Corey Brugh (Colorado School of Mines) joined as well to light the fire for these deans to commit to creating change on their campus. The outcome of these two days was 66 deans signatures that solidified their commitment to bringing visibility to the Grand Challenges on their campus. For more information, visit dreamdesigndeliver.org to see a video of the commitment that Fellows made and additional articles written by both Megna and Mary after this event.

Deshpande Symposium for Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Higher Education
June 10 -12, 2014

UIFs & Desh Deshpande, Deshpande Symposium

UIFs & Desh Deshpande, Deshpande Symposium

Back in June, Humera and I hoped in a car and met Nate Smialek (UPitt), Mary Wilcox (ASU Tempe), Rob Soloman (UWMilwaukee), Ben Riddle (Furman), Bre Przestrzelski (Clemson) and Valerie Sherry (UMD College Park) in Lowell, Massachusetts for the Deshpande Symposium. We also conveniently saw Kevin Desjardins (UMass Lowell) and his faculty sponsor Tom O’Donnell. The Deshpande Symposium is designed around innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems, curriculum, commercialization and trending topics. Fellows facilitated a session titled: Students: Secret Agents of Change. Fellows discussed their path to serving as campus change agents and offered tips on how to foster student engagement. We had two faculty sponsors join us: Ross McClain of Furman University and Ilya Avdeev of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. To add to the discussion, the faculty spoke to their approaches in cultivating a faculty sponsor-Fellow relationship and how they were supporting their Fellows strategies for change on campus. In addition, we got to visit UMass Lowell’s M2D2, a Medical Device Development Center; the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation (NERVE) Center; and Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center (ETIC).

EurekaFest 2014
June 20 – 21, 2014

Katie Dzugan, UIF Program Associate (left) & Fellow Hristina Milojevic, Union College at EurekaFest 2014.

Katie Dzugan, UIF Program Associate (left) & Fellow Hristina Milojevic, Union College at EurekaFest 2014.

EurekaFest is an MIT and Lemelson Foundation sponsored event hosted at MIT in June. InvenTeams are high school student teams invited to showcase their work from the year throughout the day in various formats — presentations and a demonstration. Student Inventions included a robotic snowblower to a pedal desk that created energy to light up a classroom to a reinvented irrigation and water system. In the evening, were the collegiate prizes which showcased the winners of two categories, “Cure it!” and “Use it!” The Lemelson-MIT student prize winners presented their technology-based inventions that were designed to improve healthcare and consumer devices and tools. The winners ranged from an easily accessible classroom 3D printer to a device that helped people monitor glucose levels. We were joined by Hristina Milojevic (Union), Natalia von Windheim (NC State) and Malik Oliver (Fayetteville) and also received a tour of the amazing MIT Media Lab. The MIT Media Lab is THE. ULTIMATE. MAKER SPACE.  Any undergraduate student that wants to support the work of the many research teams within the media lab can do so with ease. Imagine this at every campus.

 

Epicenter Research Summit
August 4 – 5, 2014

Cooking Up New Research Ideas: With Students, About Students; Epicenter Research Summit 2014

Cooking Up New Research Ideas: With Students, About Students; Epicenter Research Summit 2014

Fast forwarding to August, several students joined us at the Epicenter Research Summit held at Stanford’s d.school. Fellows in attendance were Hristina Milojevic (Union), Bre Przestrzelski (Clemson), Gurlovleen Rathore (Texas A&M), Ben Riddle (Furman), Elliot Roth (Virginia Commonwealth), Valerie Sherry (UMD College Park) and Gregory Wilson (University of Georgia). Along with program leaders, Fellows co-facilitated a session titled, Cooking Up New Research Ideas: With Students, About Students. We were extremely impressed with how each Fellow stepped up and truly helped plan and lead this session for an audience of roughly 70 researchers.

 

Researchers saw first hand that students were much more than research subjects and recipients of education. They could be active partners and co-designers of their educational experience. After a high-level program summary, researchers joined four

Valerie Sherry (UMD) during UIIF breakout groups; Epicenter Research Summit 2014

Valerie Sherry (UMD) during UIIF breakout groups; Epicenter Research Summit 2014

breakout groups, each led by a pair of University Innovation Fellows. They explored two research threads of interest to students:

  1. The what, who and why of successful I&E spaces for students: maker spaces, incubators, accelerators; and
  2. Personal and contextual factors that support the success of UIFs as change agents.

As a result of their participation, Fellows have reportedly joined together to undertake research projects with one another and with Researchers.  For more information on the Summit, click here.

 

 


Training, Fall 2014
August 25 – October 4, 2014

Fall 2014 Training Orientation; August 25

Fall 2014 Training Orientation; August 25

We have launched our Fall training! Much of our summer was consumed by application intake, interviews and planning training for the fall cohort. During the afternoon of Monday, August 25, over the course of 3 hours, we held a successful orientation session via Blue Jeans with over 80 participants, including new candidates, faculty sponsors and Epicenter staff!  In those 3 hours, we had an overview of the University Innovation Fellows mission, a faculty-only orientation discussing cultivating a strong candidate-faculty sponsor relationship and two breakout sessions for students before we convened to a close. So far, candidates have covered design thinking and have interviewed current Fellows to create 30 new how-to guides on the Wiki. This week they are surveying the ecosystem and delivering the first draft of their landscape canvases! Training will also cover spaces of innovation, the lean approach, students’ strategic priorities and finish with their strategies to give voice to student priorities for Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

Student IP Mission

Caleb Carr (UC Denver) has done an amazing job of getting Fellows involved to push the national agenda of student intellectual property issues. As a team, these Fellows are creating a full campaign, including a website, a petition, a Facebook and indiegogo page — even drafting bill language for the Higher Education Reauthorization Act that went up for revision this August. The following is a request for additional help from Caleb Carr (caleb.carr@ucdenver.edu):

I wanted to thank each and every one of you for your work and support these last couple weeks while pushing this very important initiative. We really are starting to lift a new leaf on the topic surrounding undergraduate/master’s research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. I am emailing you all to request some help. We need help in the following areas:

  • ​​Logo Development
  • Marketing
  • Social Media Management
  • Lobbying
  • Podcast development

If any of you have specific strengths that would help us in these specific areas and would be willing to put some time in it would be greatly appreciated. As always, if you have any questions or concerns please dont hesitate to contact me via email or phone. <End Message>

**Please note that this initiative is not directly supported by Epicenter or it’s affiliated partners: the National Science Foundation, Stanford University and the NCIIA.**

Meeting with NAB board members — Key Takeaways

Susan Brennan; Epicenter Research Summit 2014

Susan Brennan; Epicenter Research Summit 2014

Humera, Leticia and I met with three of the Fellows National Advisory Board Members — President Rick Miller of Olin College, Susan Brennan of Bloom Energy and Steve Blank of Lean Launchpad and Stanford. Our initial meeting included three Fellows: Bre Przestrzelski (Clemson), Ben Riddle (Furman) and Jaime Arribas (Morgan State). Way to represent! They discussed the projects they are implementing on their campus and what being a Fellow means to them. We met with Susan Brennan in California, just after the Epicenter Research Summit to discuss future strategies for the Fellows program.

 

(left to right) Katie Dzugan, Humera Fasihuddin & Leticia Britos Cavagnaro; Olin College 2014

(left to right) Katie Dzugan, Humera Fasihuddin & Leticia Britos Cavagnaro; Olin College 2014

Later in August, we had a wonderful visit from Leticia — she came to Massachusetts this time! During her stay we visited President Rick Miller at Olin College, had a wonderful tour from an undergraduate engineering student and also had lunch to meet a few key faculty members.

In other news: please keep up with the google group, where we frequently post travel opportunities for Fellows to travel around the nation with us and represent the national movement. We also hope you are available to join us for one of the two Regional Meetups this fall — Southeast: Greenville, SC (October 3&4) and Northeast: UMD College Park (early November).

Applications Open for University Innovation Fellows Program

Applications are now open for Epicenter’s University Innovation Fellows program.

University Innovation Fellow Meetup 2014
May 16, 2014

This week, the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter) opened the application process for its University Innovation Fellows program for U.S. college and university students.

The University Innovation Fellows, a national community of students in engineering and related fields, are leading a movement to ensure that all students gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to compete in the economy of the future. To accomplish this, the Fellows advocate for lasting institutional change and create opportunities for students to engage with entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, design thinking and venture creation at their schools.

The program is run by Epicenter, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA).

Fellows have created student design and maker spaces, founded entrepreneurship clubs and organizations, worked with faculty to design courses, and hosted events and workshops. At present, there are 78 Fellows at 110 institutions.

“The University Innovation Fellows program empowers students to become agents of change on their campuses,” said Humera Fasihuddin, leader of the University Innovation Fellows program for Epicenter. “With a little bit of training, some guidance, and a great support network, Fellows are working alongside engineers, their interdisciplinary peers and faculty to prepare students to pursue their career aspirations with an entrepreneurial mindset that is so critical in today’s economy.”

The Time Is Now: The University Innovation Fellows Manifesto

John DesJardins, Associate Professor of Bioengineering at Clemson University, said about his school’s Fellow and bioengineering graduate student Breanne Przestrzelski: “As a result of her University Innovation Fellows experience, Bre has systematically begun to transform the entrepreneurial and innovation landscape of our bioengineering program, our college, our university and our community. At every level, Bre has challenged the engineering and business educators, administrators and leaders in our community to become active facilitators of student-driven engagement in entrepreneurship and technology innovation.”

Elliot Roth, a University Innovation Fellow and engineering major at Virginia Commonwealth University, spoke to the benefit of having a network of like-minded peers across the country: “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 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.”

The deadline for program applications is June 30, 2014. Students can request an application, and faculty can request an application to sponsor a student at dreamdesigndeliver.org/apply.

Application and program details:

  • The application deadline for the Spring/Fall 2014 cohort is June 30, 2014.
  • Ideally, applicants are undergraduate students in engineering or other STEM fields, but Epicenter is thrilled to consider undergraduate and graduate applicants from all disciplines who are passionate about technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • Students can apply individually or in groups of up to five, called a Leadership Circle.
  • Applicants are sponsored by a faculty or administrator who can provide a program fee, travel support and a letter of support.
  • Following acceptance, students are required to take part in an online training and in-person events. Upon successful completion, students participate in a three-day immersive experience in Silicon Valley.

Learn more at dreamdesigndeliver.org.

About Epicenter:
The National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter) is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (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. Learn more and get involved at epicenter.stanford.edu.

Media contact:
Laurie Moore
Communications Specialist, Epicenter
(650) 561-6113
llhmoore@stanford.edu

Click here to download the full press release: Epicenter University Innovation Fellows press release – May 2014.

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