Four students from Rensselaer have been named University Innovation Fellows (UIF) by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter).
Jim Boulter ’17, Jordan Dunne ’16, Ray Parker ’16, and Hayley Roy Gill ’18 have completed training to join Epicenter’s University Innovation Fellows, a national program empowering student leaders to increase campus engagement with innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity, and design thinking.
The students’ plan is to establish “early adopters”—faculty members who will introduce creativity, opportunity-finding innovation, and an entrepreneurial attitude in their classes—and begin a series of talks to help students develop their portfolio of skills to equip them with the tools to make a difference in the world. Eventually, they plan to seek support from entrepreneurial alumni, companies who hire Rensselaer graduates, and on-campus partnerships.
The students, nominated by faculty from the Severino Center, seek to encourage more student involvement with entrepreneurship and innovation initiatives on campus. “Student-led groups of University Innovation Fellows have been change agents at institutions throughout the country. We welcome their insights and leadership in finding ways of improving the student entrepreneurship experience,” said Jason Kuruzovich, academic director of the Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship and associate professor.
A key goal of The Rensselaer Plan 2024, and a key element of The New Polytechnic, is to provide students with a transformative student experience. “A strength of Rensselaer lies in the ability to educate students to develop concepts and ideas across disciplines and relate them to global challenges,” the Plan states. “Creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurial thinking are critical to the Rensselaer ethos.” The University Innovation Fellows program is an example of how Rensselaer is realizing that goal.
Student-led groups of University Innovation Fellows have been change agents at institutions throughout the country. We welcome their insights and leadership in finding ways of improving the student entrepreneurship experience.”—Jason Kuruzovich
Dunne and Boulter are majoring in computer science, Gill in biomedical engineering, and Parker in chemical engineering. The four are part of a cohort of 155 students from 47 institutions of higher education named for 2016. They follow in the footsteps of Meghan Olson ’14, M.S. ’15, who was the first student at Rensselaer named a University Innovation Fellow. Olson said her goal was to “catalyze greater levels of innovation and venture activity at RPI while collaborating with other student UIF leaders from around the country.”
The program is run by Epicenter, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell. With the addition of the new fellows, the program has trained 607 students at 143 institutions since the beginning of the Epicenter grant in 2014.
Individual fellows and institutional teams of fellows are sponsored by faculty and administrators and selected through an application process twice annually. Following acceptance into the program, schools fund the students to go through six weeks of online training and travel to the University Innovation Fellows Annual Meetup in Silicon Valley. Throughout the year, they take part in events and conferences across the country and have opportunities to learn from one another, Epicenter mentors, and leaders in academia and industry.