UIF Program inspires student-led initative


This past spring break, five Union students — four sophomores and one junior — attended the University Innovation Fellows program (UIF).

The program is run by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), which is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell.

The program, which stretches over four days, empowers students to not only become agents of change at their respective schools, but to also develop an entrepreneurial mindset. This mindset is intended to create new learning opportunities for their peers and inspire them to seize opportunities, define problems and address global challenges.

The students who attended the program were Vera Marsova ’18, Lakhena Leang ’18, Robert Barsamian ’17, Arielle Singer ’18 and Luke McCaffrey ’18. “One of the biggest goals that UIF aims to accomplish is to find out how we can apply design thinking, creativity and entrepreneurship to enhance the college experience,” says Lakhena Leang ’18.

Leang, along with her team, has started a project named “Wise Labs Startup Boot Camp,” that puts emphasis on building entrepreneurial abilities, creativity, innovation and learning.

The team went through a six week long online training in January and February. The training program consisted of different tasks and assignments along with coming up with possible solutions to problems on the Union campus.

All group members came up with individual projects focused on bringing together students from various disciplines, linking the arts and humanities with science and engineering and instilling creativity, leadership and entrepreneurship within the college community. This gives students a chance to discover their passions and interests.

Lakhena ’18 plans to hold a student leadership conference that will enable students to enhance their leadership abilities.

Starting next fall, Lakhena plans to bring together all student leaders and clubs on campus and hold sessions to highlight the importance of utilizing team members and resources optimally, especially as some organizations and clubs outrun others.

“This conference will be the perfect opportunity for student leaders to understand the vitality of effective leadership and optimal usage of resources,” reflected Leang.


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