Authors: Anna Hartenbach and Colleen Carow
Two Ohio University students have been selected as Stanford University Innovation Fellows (UIF), a program that empowers students to become leaders of change and create opportunities for entrepreneurship at their own universities. Just more than 200 fellows from across the globe were named.
Andrew Stroud, a junior mechanical engineering major pursing a certificate in entrepreneurship, and Winter Wilson, a sophomore environmental studies and journalism double major in the Honors Tutorial College, join 2016 fellows Ben Scott, an engineering and technology management student, and Faith Voinovich, chemical engineering major – bringing the total number of OHIO fellows in just four years, to seven.
Created as part of the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter) through a National Science Foundation grant, the select program provides six weeks of online training, including themed lessons around the ideation process, as well as connections to innovation and entrepreneurship resources on the students’ campuses and beyond.
Stroud said the program changed him as a person by forcing him to step outside of his boundaries.
“As an engineer, we can get pretty locked up in theory, practice, doing the numbers and homework -- but this is taking that process of problem solving and applying it in the real world to make something happen, not just talking about it,” Stroud said. “To me, an engineer is a problem solver.”
In November, Stroud and Wilson attended a Silicon Valley meetup at Stanford University, where they met with fellows from around the world, listened to speakers, and participated in innovative activities.
Because UIF is open to actively enrolled students from all majors and background, the meet-ups are diverse – and the November gathering also welcomed previous fellows, enabling more networking opportunities.
Wilson said that for her, one of the most important aspects of the program was meeting and learning from other fellows from across the world who were passionate about creating a big impact and having a positive change.
“The University Innovation Fellows program has shown me that I have the ability to be a powerful agent of change. Not only have I gained valuable skills through the program training, but I also know that I have an incredible international support network of fellows that will continue to help me achieve my goals in the future,” Wilson said.
The OHIO cohort is continuing its work to develop C-Suite, a centralized entrepreneurship hub where students can collaborate and access relevant resources, as a demonstration of UIF’s charge to unify students across disciplines and inspire interest in innovation and entrepreneurship.
Stroud said one way to bring students together from all backgrounds is to get them to think about their mission.
“When students begin to ask, ‘what’s my mission?’ it helps them to think about the steps required to achieve their mission rather than what’s needed to fulfill their educational requirements,” Stroud said. “Having a mission cuts that idea loose.”
Paul Mass, College of Business entrepreneur-in-residence and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, who served as Stroud and Wilson’s faculty sponsor, said UIF has the potential to be life changing for students, and that it carries great benefits for OHIO.
“The students who want to effect change are more able to do it than faculty or administration in many ways,” Mass said. “They will feel more empowered about thinking outside of the box, starting new things and soliciting support for what they want to implement – it is the essence of entrepreneurship.”
Stroud said getting outside of one’s academic area to collaborate unlocks the potential of innovation.
“As engineers, we know theory like that back of our hand and we can probably do some pretty crazy tricks with math, but making something happen while working with people of all disciplines can be really powerful,” he said.