NDSU students Diedrich Harms and Robert Kringler recently completed training to become University Innovation Fellows, a national program that empowers student leaders to increase campus engagement with innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity and design thinking.
Harms and Kringler were among 150 students from 52 institutions in the newly selected group. They are supported by faculty adviser David Wells, professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering.
Harms and Kringler join current NDSU fellows Jordan Brummond, Jacob Larson, Drew Spooner and Andrew Dalman, who were invited to the White House in July because of their participation in the program.
"This is a very exciting opportunity," said Kringler, who is a senior history major from Fargo. "NDSU has great resources for students to spend time on projects they are passionate about and work on turning ideas into successful ventures. However, we also see room for growth. We think there is a great opportunity to support innovation and entrepreneurship with academic coursework, such as adding a interdisciplinary, problem-based, innovation-focused course."
Harms, a senior majoring in architecture from Bismarck, North Dakota, said, "I am really excited to have been selected. It is a responsibility in a really fun way. We are expected to improve our campus and be a catalyst for change, yet we can do what we want with it, taking ownership. Robert and I have a lot of great ideas, including planning a new course based on collaboration and design thinking and also expanding the entrepreneurship program currently offered."
The fellows program is run by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation, known as Epicenter, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell.
During the past four years, the program has trained more than 450 students from 130 universities. The fellows work to design innovation spaces, start entrepreneurship organizations, host experiential learning events and work with faculty to develop new courses.
Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, co-leader of the program, said, “The fellows are learning to be leaders and creative problems solvers, and they’re bringing other students along with them on this journey to make a positive difference at their schools and in their communities.”
Following acceptance into the program, universities fund students to go through six weeks of online training and travel to the University Innovation Fellows annual meet-up in Silicon Valley. Throughout the year, they participate in events across the country, as well as learn from Epicenter mentors and leaders in academia and industry.
As a student-focused, land-grant, research university, we serve our citizens.