Four students at Colorado State University have completed training to join the global University Innovation Fellows program. The program is run by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design or d. School.
University Innovation Fellows program
The UIF program empowers student leaders to increase campus engagement with innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity and design thinking. The CSU students, who are sponsored by the Nancy Richardson Design Center, join 360 students from 90 higher education institutions in 13 countries who have been named fellows.
The four CSU students in the program:
Dylan Frost (apparel and merchandising – merchandising concentration, business administration minor, ’20)
RK Hancock (natural sciences – biology education concentration, ‘20)
Tracey Trickey (interior architecture and design, ‘21)
Trenton Beeh (landscape architecture, ‘21)
The students were nominated by their professors for the program and former CSU President Tony Frank provided a letter of support.
As part of the program, the students are charged with designing a student-led, student-driven innovation project to implement at their University. After conducting research, the fellows were inspired to create new experiences for students on campus to help them better adapt to the environment. This includes a student-led mentoring program, diversity and inclusion programs, and more mental health support for first and second-year students.
“My goals are to find some of the missing elements at CSU where students were maybe left behind and taking steps to fix the problems we stumbled across,” said Trickey.
The program is coordinated and organized by the students, who meet regularly to discuss their research on the campus and what changes need to happen.
“What we realized from meetings is that hearing student voices are a big issue. A lot of the time professors don’t hear that voice. We’re hoping to implement our ideas to help develop that better,” said Beeh.
James Folkestad, professor in the School of Education and part of the core faculty for the Nancy Richardson Design Center, is the faculty champion for CSU’s UIF students. Folkestad said the program promotes a “design thinking focus that connects students to the institution.”
“The UIF program is designed to solve real-world problems,” said Folkestad, “One of the things students do initially is go out and empathize with other students on campus. That’s how they selected their particular problem they are trying to solve.”
In addition to Folkestad, the UIF team is guided by Mary McGee, a UIF currently working on a master’s degree in student affairs in higher education at CSU.
The UIF members are currently working to start a program for upper and lower classmen to connect through study sessions.
“We found that freshmen are particularly alone and lonely and have a hard time adjusting to the university life,” Trickey said, “so we’re starting to prototype a mentoring program for freshmen. We are in the research phase to see if it is a viable task.”
This program would involve holding a study session in each department open to both upper and lower classmen to help them connect with each other.
“I think [the mentorship program] is important because for a lot of students, that mentorship or guidance from fellow students doesn’t exist. Creating individualized relationships is huge. Those are authentic,” said Hancock.
UIF Fellows remain members of the Stanford d. School after graduation. This year’s CSU UIF team join the last year’s inaugural team, Alonzo Alcocer, majoring in landscape architecture; Annaliese Cole-Weiss, an art major; Nicholas Hahn, majoring in interior architecture and design; and Eric Thorson, a business administration major, who were mentored by Scott Shrake, director of the Institute of Entrepreneurship and a member of the RDC core faculty, and Laura Malinin, RDC director. A pinning ceremony is planned for December to celebrate the accomplishments of both teams.
The UIF program at CSU is supported by the Nancy Richardson Design Center Innovation Fund. The UIF team has the opportunity to travel to Stanford University and the Google campus to meet with other students involved in UIF from around the world.