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University of Dayton Engineering Students Named Innovation Fellows

By Shawn Robinson, associate director of news and communications

Jennifer Winn, Sydney Szafarski, Ian Sikora and Evan Krimpenfort are among 358 students from 96 higher education institutions in 16 countries recently named University Innovation Fellows. They will advocate for fellow students to engage in innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity through innovation spaces, entrepreneurship organizations, experiential-learning events and new courses.

This is the fourth group of University of Dayton students selected to the program. The quartet said they want to create a University of Dayton Common Academic Program course in innovation, entrepreneurship and design that can be implemented across all majors, and a yearly "design-a-thon" open to all students. They also have their sights on streamlining the University's annual student organization information day, "Up the Orgs," and bringing a TedX event to campus around innovation, entrepreneurship and design.

"The University of Dayton does a great job incorporating innovation and entrepreneurship and design thinking into the business and engineering schools. Now the fellows want to spread that thinking across campus, opening potentially thousands of minds to innovation and entrepreneurship and design thinking," said Emily Fehrman Cory, faculty of practice in innovation and entrepreneurship in the University of Dayton School of Engineering and the group's adviser.

Click here to read more about the group's specific goals and strategies.

Goals of previous University of Dayton fellows have included more collaboration and study space in the School of Engineering's Kettering Labs, an app or scheduling system to allow students to better locate study space in Kettering Labs, a student-run incubator to help advise students in the early stages of project development, a database of innovators that students can tap for mentoring and partnerships, and an innovation and entrepreneurship course open to all first-year students. Previous groups also have worked on integrating more engineering themes into University of Dayton Common Academic Program courses, establishing an engineering and innovation learning living community, and incorporating more art into engineering to help students use their creative and analytical skills.

"Through this program, fellows gain skills, mindsets and knowledge to face complex challenges at their schools and in the world," said Humera Fasihuddin, co-director of the University Innovation Fellows program. "During training, fellows analyze their campus ecosystems and identify learning opportunities related to innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and creativity. They work to understand the needs of peers across disciplines and the perspectives of faculty and administrators. Armed with this knowledge and perspective, they design strategies to take advantage of these opportunities for change."

Overall, the program has trained more than 1,800 students.

Participation with the University Innovation Fellows program is another example of how the University of Dayton is striving to instill an entrepreneurial mindset in its students.

The University is a member of the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN), a national partnership of universities with the mission of graduating engineers with an entrepreneurial mindset so they can create personal, economic and societal value through their work.

Since joining KEEN, the University of Dayton has received the 2013 KEEN Best in Class Award; Eddy Rojas, dean of the School of Engineering, was honored with the 2015 Outstanding Dean Award; and Ken Bloemer, director of the Visioneering Center at the University of Dayton's School of Engineering, was recognized for his work in the network with the 2016 Outstanding Faculty Award.

In 2014, The Kern Family Foundation, which created KEEN, awarded the University of Dayton a $1.2 million grant to initiate the largest faculty and curriculum development program in the School of Engineering's history. Much of the funding is going toward developing activity-based, project-based and entrepreneurially minded classes to enhance the student experience.

In November 2017, The Kern Family Foundation awarded the University $2 million to help faculty work with industry and community partners to infuse entrepreneurially minded learning examples and case studies into their courses.

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