ABOUT the PROGRAM
The University Innovation Fellows are part of a national movement to ensure that students gain the necessary attitudes, skills and knowledge required for them to compete in the economy of the future. These student leaders from schools around the country work with their peers to catalyze even greater levels of innovation and venture activity on their campuses.
The program is run by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), which is funded by the National Science Foundation as a partnership between Stanford University and VentureWell (formerly NCIIA). We call on students and their peers to dream, design and deliver innovations that solve real-world problems.
ABOUT the FELLOWS
We currently have 110 students from 78 institutions across our nation. Our Fellows mainly consist of undergraduate engineering majors, but as interdisciplinary collaboration is vital, we have several graduate and Ph.D. students, as well as undergraduates, majoring in biotechnology, biochemistry, architecture, design, business, entrepreneurship and child psychology.
During 2012-2013, the Fellows hosted 124 events and activities, reaching 9,000 students and faculty. University Innovation Fellows are bringing change where it’s needed most —
Fellows are building resources that will last beyond their time on campus. They are:
- creating innovation spaces / maker spaces;
- founding clubs;
- raising funding;
- hosting speakers;
- organizing competitions; and
- leading workshops that expose students to creativity, innovation, design thinking and tools to hone their entrepreneurial mindset.
Fellows are organizing students into ‘Leadership Circles’ and working with faculty, deans, trustees and other institutional leaders to:
- discuss ways to enhance the educational experience so as to attract and retain more students in STEM fields by engaging those students in hands-on, applied & self-directed learning opportunities;
- advocate and lead cross-departmental and cross-institutional partnerships;
- collaborate to hold new course offerings that incorporate creativity, innovation, design thinking and entrepreneurship within and alongside traditional STEM coursework.
Fellows are contributing to the national dialogue on their needs in higher education by:
- speaking at national conferences about their work;
- collaborating with other fellows regionally and by discipline;
- advocating for changes in policy that create, nurture and support a nation of young people who posses an entrepreneurial mindset, a passion for solving society’s most pressing problems and the necessary attitudes, skills and abilities to make a difference in the world.
- why students are becoming University Innovation Fellows.
- about student priorities across the U.S.
- how students are creating change on campus.
TRAINING and SUPPORT
We train teams of students over an intensive 6 week period to conduct in-depth analyses of their campus ecosystems; provide them with tools, resources and year-round mentorship; and continually connect them with one another digitally and at national conferences and events. Having a national network of like-minded students helps our Fellows learn from one another and create multi-institution collaborations. Our students also benefit from instituting a Leadership Circle on campus, of which up to 5 students receive the same training. We have seen great success of Leadership Circles in terms of teamwork, momentum and peer support directly on campus. You can read more in depth about our online training on our apply page.
HOW to BECOME a FELLOW
Interested students should begin the application process here. In order to submit the application, each student needs to provide at least one faculty letter of support, find a faculty sponsor (does not need to be the same as the letter of support) and create a supplemental YouTube clip. It is the responsibility of the faculty sponsor to apply the students for the Leadership Circle; the faculty sponsor must supply a letter of support from the President of the university or any Vice President-level administrator. Once submitted, the applications will be reviewed with the possibility of moving forward into the interview round. The interview round consists of group interviews in which we encourage students to share their BHAG – big hairy audacious goals with us and their potential peers. Competition is strongly discouraged as we promote a safe environment of information sharing. After the interview round is when students are invited to join us in this national endeavor. We look forward to being introduced to amazing candidates every cohort!
If you are a faculty member interested in hosting a University Innovation Fellow at your institution, please click here for more information.