Four Elon students named Epicenter University Innovation Fellows

Bennett Driscoll, Giles Roll, Jensen Roll and Matthew Snow are taking part in a program through Stanford University that empowers student leaders to increase campus engagement with entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity and venture creation. 

<p>The newest cohort enrolled in Epicenter's University Innovation Fellows program (photo by Ben Colman for Epicenter)</p>
<p>The newest cohort enrolled in Epicenter’s University Innovation Fellows program (photo by Ben Colman for Epicenter)</p>
[/caption]Elon University students Bennett Driscoll, Giles Roll, Jensen Roll and Matthew Snow are among the newest cohort of American college students named to the Epicenter University Innovation Fellows program, managed by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation at Stanford University.

Epicenter’s UIF program empowers students to become agents of change at their schools. Participants are a national community of students who work to ensure that their peers gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to compete in the economy of the future.

To accomplish this, participants advocate for lasting institutional change and create opportunities for students to engage with entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, design thinking and venture creation at their schools.

At Elon, the four students will explore several possible projects, including:

  • Create a crowdfunding platform for members of the campus community;
  • Support student organizations whose missions are related to innovation and entrepreneurship;
  • Coordinate with organizers of Elon’s annual TEDx program to host a separate event promoting entrepreneurship;
  • Develop a campus incubator that will help students feel comfortable brainstorming and prototyping ideas.

This new cohort of program participants brings the total number to 291 Fellows from 114 schools. The program is run by Epicenter, funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell. Epicenter helps students combine their technical skills, their ability to develop innovative technologies that solve important problems, and an entrepreneurial mindset and skillset.

The four students are supported by faculty sponsors Kevin O’Mara and Angela Lewellyn Jones to create new experiences for Elon students.

“In today’s economy, it is imperative for all students to acquire an entrepreneurial mindset,” said Humera Fasihuddin, co-leader of Epicenter’s UIF program. “College graduates need to enter the workforce skilled in assessing complex problems, conceiving innovative solutions and developing scalable solutions, whether they join a company or non-profit organization or start a new venture.”

Individuals as well as teams of students are sponsored by faculty and administrators at their schools and selected through an application process twice annually. Following acceptance into the program, schools fund the students to go through six weeks of online training and travel to the Epicenter University Innovation Fellows Annual Meetup in Silicon Valley.

“Our program provides a platform for Epicenter Fellows to learn to be strategic thinkers, examine the landscape of learning opportunities at their schools, and formulate action plans to implement their ideas,” said Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, co-leader of the program and deputy director of Epicenter. “They develop a community and share strategies about what’s working at their schools. Ultimately, these students, with their drive and motivation, are leading accelerated change in higher education.”

Throughout the year, they take part in events and conferences across the country and have opportunities to learn from one another, Epicenter mentors, and leaders in academia and industry.