Left to right: Dallas Elleman, Caroline Rodgers, and Conner Bender. courtesy University of Tulsa

TU’s Innovation Fellows near completion of training

The University of Tulsa is preparing to send its first cohort of University Innovation Fellows to Google Headquarters in Palo Alto, California to complete their training.

Originating from Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school), the University Innovation Fellowship is a program designed to “empower students to become agents of change at their schools”. Through an intense six-week online training session, fellows are coached in design thinking. They are taught the skills necessary to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship at their respective universities while working to make a positive impact on the world. Graduates of the program have achieved extraordinary success in their ventures. Many have created physical spaces that provide 3D printers, design software and faculty support for students interested in design. Additionally, students have hosted hundreds of events including conferences, workshops, hackathons and community challenges to encourage student innovation and creation.

Conner Bender, a sophomore computer science and math major, Dallas Elleman, a junior engineering major and Caroline Rodgers, a marketing major, are members of TU’s first University Innovation Fellows cohort. They have recently completed the six-week training session and will attend a University Innovation Fellows summit in Silicon Valley. As a part of the program, the trio conducted research to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the entrepreneurial environment on TU’s campus. On October 25th, they held the first stakeholders meeting where they discussed the findings of their research and explained their vision for TU. As University Innovation Fellows, their goal is to help students find their passion and interests earlier. They want to develop an innovative, creative, design thinking based culture on TU’s campus. The Fellows will host workshops, entrepreneurship events, pitch competitions and pop-up challenges all over the school.

Professor Charles Wood is the faculty adviser for the University Innovation Fellows program and the NOVA Fellowship. He stated “TU students, the city of Tulsa, and all organizations and industries benefit from having a creative, flexible, and innovative mindset. Today’s world demands it”. To keep up with the rapidly changing world students at the University of Tulsa must be pushed to approach problems in a creative, innovative manner. Wood stated “At TU we have pockets of creative, innovative activity all around the campus, but we often don’t know what each other are doing! The University Innovation Fellows program has as its mission to help teams of students identify and develop the overall innovation ecosystem at select universities around the world.” He hopes that the UIF program will help students come together and work on projects that they are passionate about.

Wood believes the goal of the UIF program at TU is to “connect students more often and more directly to the larger, growing innovation ecosystem of Tulsa and it’s terrific community of leaders in nonprofit and for-profit organizations”. Wood wants to encourage students to explore ideas and projects that they are unfamiliar with, or want to learn more about.

You can find out more about the University Innovation Fellowship by speaking with Professor Charles Wood (Charles-wood@utulsa.edu) or visiting www.universityinnovationfellows.org. Additionally, explore what Studio Blue has to offer by visiting Helmerich Hall.

Post Author: Neb Esayas