“The University Innovation Fellows program empowers students to become leaders of change in higher education. Fellows are creating a national movement to ensure that all students gain the necessary attitudes, skills and knowledge to compete in the economy of the future.” This is the purpose line from UIF’s website throughout universities in the US.
“The goal is to provide students with the tools to promote innovation as well as entrepreneurial thought on college campuses. said Megan Anderson, a sophomore UIF participant and Oxbridge history of ideas and physics major.
The tools include extensive online training in design thinking, prototyping, and ways of evaluating community resources. Additionally, the program seeks to connect students to each other in order to build a supportive network.”
UIF at William Jewell has had an important impact on the campus and its students. In the past, UIF has had several design and critical thinking workshops on campus. One of their biggest workshop was #OneDayKC, “a 12-hour innovation & entrepreneurship workshop, created to develop & embolden student entrepreneurial spirits.”
“Some of the more prominent projects UIF is working on is the redesign of the first floor of Curry Hall and OneDayKC.” said Denver Strong, a sophomore UIF participant and physics, mathematics and chemistry major. “OneDayKC is a legacy project led more by the senior fellows to get undergraduate students from different colleges in the area, or even across the nation, to help people realize what people WANT done in the society. Last year, a girl from Oklahoma and I walked around KC asking what people thought of alternative energy and the (then) new streetcar. We were recently asked to work on Curry hall, so we are speaking to students on campus about what it should be and will run ideas through administration and see if they agree if it’s plausible”,
Members for UIF are selected through a competitive selection process. Applicants submit an online application along with several video forms. A group interview is then conducted. The group interview consists of all applicants from one school. Once the fellows get selected, they go through intensive training that includes six weeks of assignments, watching videos and collaborating with other members.
“UIF has given me a framework for pursuing new ideas by providing me with knowledge about innovation and entrepreneurship that I would not have gained otherwise” said Anderson. “Additionally, I now know students from across the country and around the globe who have similar goals for their campuses. These connections are inspiring and serve as great resources for learning from others.”
UIF fellows from William Jewell flew to California during the week of spring break to share their projects and meet other fellows.
“[It was] an opportunity for newly-initiated fellows to meet each other, collaborate in person and learn from people at places such as Google, Stanford’s design school, and Microsoft” said Anderson. “Additionally, the fellows from Jewell had the opportunity to tour IDEO.org, Airbnb, Apple and Tesla. These companies have unique philosophies on innovation and design, and the opportunity to speak with representatives about company dynamics, changes, and future visions gave me real-world perspective that I didn’t even realize I lacked “, said Anderson.
Strong explained how California’s trip impacted him, “Going to California allowed us to work together in different ways, taking good things out of the bad and learning the good things in whatever group you end up in” he said. It’s a very hands-on and intense creative learning style through creative thinking and interacting with others who may not share the same views. While we were there, we got to tour a lot of big name places and see how some of them worked such as how work goes down and the actual level of collaboration that is there. Also, NETWORKING. We meet so many new people… and get their information. Then, we can actually put things into action here and elsewhere. We can get new ideas from others or help them implement and support their projects as well.”