Three students from Lawrence Technological University are among 155 students from 47 higher education institutions nationwide who have been named University Innovation Fellows by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter)
The LTU Fellows are Leah Batty, a junior in industrial engineering from Macomb Township; Justin Becker, a junior in civil engineering from Romeo; and Nada Saghir, a junior in mechanical engineering from Dearborn.
University Innovation Fellows participate in a six-week online training program with Epicenter, a student entrepreneurship initiative funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University’s School of Engineering and VentureWell, a student inventor organization founded in 1995.
“They participate in this program with students from all over the country,” said Cristi Bell-Huff, director of the Studio for Entrepreneurial Engineering Design (SEED) at LTU’s College of Engineering. “They assess where their university is in terms of entrepreneurship and innovation, what the culture is. They go out all over campus and the community and assess where we are, what are the issues and opportunities.”
The idea, Bell-Huff said, is “to promote an entrepreneurial mindset on campus. Students can be the biggest agents of change.”
Under the Innovation Fellows program, students develop opportunities for their classmates to engage in innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and creativity. Over the years of the program, the 607 trained fellows at 143 institutions have designed innovation spaces, started entrepreneurship organizations, hosted learning events, and worked with faculty to develop new courses. Fellows who joined the program in the 2014-15 academic year held 112 events and established 35 maker spaces at their schools.
This is Lawrence Tech’s first year participating in the Innovation Fellows program. LTU’s entrepreneurial engineering faculty selected the three Fellows from a pool of student applicants
Batty, Becker and Saghir were also on LTU’s team that won the championship in Innovation Encounter, a national entrepreneurship competition sponsored by the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network, an effort of the Kern Family Foundation, which seeks to build entrepreneurship in engineering education.
The three Fellows presented on their experience with the program to an audience of Lawrence Tech faculty members, administrators, and other stakeholders Friday, Feb. 26 at LTU’s new Detroit Center for Design and Technology. Among those attending were LTU Provost Maria Vaz, Bahman Mirshab, dean of the LTU College of Management; and LTU engineering professor Donald Riemer, one of the leaders in the university’s efforts to incorporate entrepreneurial education into the engineering curriculum.
The students said their goals developed through participating in the program included creating a maker space at LTU – perhaps with portable equipment, so several places at the university could become maker spaces -- having more entrepreneurial workshops, and doing more outreach to K-12 students about engineering careers.
Lawrence Tech’s three Fellows will also travel to the University Innovation Fellows Annual Meetup in Silicon Valley March 17-22. While there, they will attend workshops at Google and Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, which is taking over the Fellows program after Epicenter’s NSF grant ends June 30. (Visit bit.ly/UIF-future to read more about the transition.)
“We believe that students can be so much more than just the customers of higher education,” said Humera Fasihuddin, co-leader of the University Innovation Fellows program. “Fellows are acting as co-designers of the higher education experience, and they are actively collaborating with faculty and administrators to make lasting changes at their schools. They utilize their resourcefulness, creativity and national network to make measurable gains, both in the number of resources and the students served by the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.”
Among Michigan institutions, Kettering University in Flint and the University of Detroit-Mercy also participate in the Innovation Fellows program.
Applications for the fall 2016 cohort of Fellows are due on May 2. Learn more about the University Innovation Fellows and find out how to apply at universityinnovationfellows.org.