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Technological Leadership Institute Endowed Chair Helps Students Land Prestigious Fellowship | Technological Leadership Institute

Posted on
November 25, 2015
10,000 makes 2

Four University of Minnesota (U of M) students have been named University Innovation Fellows by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter). This program empowers student leaders to increase campus engagement with innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity and design thinking. 

Chris Atkinson, Matt Finley, Joshua Halverson and Briana Schlangen are among the 150 students from 52 U.S. higher education institutions selected to create new experiences for students at the University of Minnesota. They join Tyler Ebert and Chris Kuehn, who were selected as the U of M’s first student Fellows last year. As a U of M Innovation Fellows Leadership Circle, these students work to ensure their peers are aware of and have access to the diverse set of applied innovation and entrepreneurship experiences and events distributed across campus.

“Being a University Innovation Fellow means I am part of a network of like-minded, yet amazingly different and diverse people,” says Atkinson. “As a Fellow at the U of M, I hope to increase the entrepreneurial spirit on campus, and to encourage others to pursue project-based learning.”

Fellows are sponsored by faculty and administrators and selected through an application process twice annually. The six students are supported by University of Minnesota sponsors Kirk Froggatt, who is the Gemini Chair in Technology Management at the Technological Leadership Institute, and John Stavig, director of the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the Carlson School of Management.

“The purpose of this program is to develop a national cohort of student change makers on campuses who will help ‘light many fires and create a controlled burn’ of student-led innovation and entrepreneurship,” explains Froggatt. “It takes a special talent to mobilize students at a campus as large and segmented as the University of Minnesota. These Fellows possess the passion and natural leadership qualities to rally their peers and create broader, cross-disciplinary engagement in ‘hands on’ innovation experiences. This applied learning helps prepare students for career success by given them practice in cross-disciplinary collaboration, design thinking, prototype development, and ‘pitching’ their ideas to sponsors and stakeholders.”

Following acceptance into the program, the students go through six weeks of online training and travel to the University Innovation Fellows Annual Meetup in Silicon Valley. Throughout the year they participate in conferences, and have opportunities to learn from Epicenter mentors, and leaders in academia and industry.

“I’m really looking forward to working with other students that are motivated to bring about a positive change on campus,” says Schlangen. “I am very excited and honored to be given the opportunity to genuinely make a difference.”

The Fellows design innovation spaces, host experiential learning events and work with faculty to develop new courses. In Fall 2015, the U of M Fellows designed and hosted “10,000 Makes,” a hardware makeathon where nine teams used a vast array of resources to build a project from the ground up in 14 hours.

“10,000 Makes was a great event to help multidisciplinary teams of students ideate, create and build prototypes and apply the theory they learn in the classroom,” says Froggatt. “Our fellows wanted to create a hardware makeathon as a way to build things and offer another valuable experience beyond software hackathons. For many students this hands-on opportunity to practice what they are learning is a key source of engagement and inspiration to keep studying hard. It was exciting to see the Fellows come together with more than 50 of their peers in Keller Hall to create such innovative products in a single day.”

The student projects included a “Rock’em Sock’em” robot arm controlled by actual human movements, and a seatbelt designed to alert someone via Bluetooth if a child was left in the car. The Fellows provided supplies, informed participants about resources on campus, and taught workshops on ideation and design thinking. The event was so successful another makeathon is being organized for 2016. The Fellows say Froggatt’s sponsorship contributed to their success.

“Kirk (Froggatt) has been very supportive of all of us. He provided a lot of positive encouragement through our entire planning process for 10,000 Makes, and helped us organize the necessary administrative tools,” explains Schlangen. “I really appreciate his willingness to provide guidance. His help made all the difference.”

Information about the University Innovation Fellows program can be found on their website www.universityinnovationfellows.org. To learn about Kirk Froggatt and the Technological Leadership Institute please visit www.tli.umn.edu.

Kirk has been very supportive of all of us. He provided a lot of positive encouragement through our entire planning process for 10,000 Makes, and helped us organize the necessary administrative tools. I really appreciate his willingness to provide guidance. His help made all the difference.

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