Three TU students have been named University Innovation Fellows by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school). The program empowers fellows to create opportunities that ensure their peers gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to compete in the economy of the future and make a positive impact on the world.
Conner Bender, a sophomore computer science and math major, Dallas Elleman, a junior engineering physics major and Caroline Rodgers, a sophomore marketing major, completed a rigorous application process and six weeks of online training led by the d.school. They will travel to the University Innovation Fellows Silicon Valley Meetup in November to learn from peers at other universities as well as industry leaders.
Associate Professor of Marketing Charlie Wood served as faculty adviser for TU’s first session of the program. Wood previously worked with the Koch Foundation to help design TU’s NOVA Fellowship, an interdisciplinary program that equips students with the tools to implement an idea or passion before graduating. The Collins College of Business also houses Studio Blue, a facility students use as an agency-like environment to generate product innovation ideas, create business plans and work on projects for businesses and nonprofit organizations.
“The University Innovation Fellows program goes right alongside what we are doing with the NOVA Fellowship and Studio Blue,” Wood explained. “We want to expand these resources across campus to encourage design thinking, social entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity in all majors.”
As part of their training, Bender, Elleman and Rodgers interviewed students to gather research on the entrepreneurial landscape of TU and the Tulsa community. They identified three projects that will expand awareness of innovation resources available to students and faculty and foster connections with Tulsa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“The UIF program gives students a chance to identify and solve problems while getting feedback from mentors at Stanford and around the world,” said Elleman. “It’s an experience in education that’s unlike anything I’ve ever been exposed to and a great complement to what I’m already learning here at TU.”