Kettering Students Learn from University Innovation Fellows Program at Stanford

We learned how to identify opportunities on campus, how to use these resources and opportunities effectively and strategize priorities necessary for success.”

Kettering University students - Muhammad Ghias ‘17 and Jace Stokes ‘19 - traveled to California in March 2016 to participate in the University Innovation Fellows program through Epi Center: National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation at Stanford University. The purpose of their visit was to attain the knowledge through the Silicon Valley experience to foster an entrepreneurial mindset among their peers at Kettering University.

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Alan Xia and Cheyne Westerman participated in this program last year and Saheb Kapoor ‘14 and Hunter Casbeer also traveled to Stanford in 2014.

Over 600 students from 143 universities who attended the program focused on methods of encouraging their peers to become more innovative and astute in addressing global problems.

“While at Stanford, I learned to be much more prototype driven,” said Ghias, a senior Bioinformatics major. “A lot of us get stuck on market evaluations before even building a prototype and end up wasting too much energy.”

Ghias also said that the space one works in is an important aspect of innovation.

“The space you are in determines your behavior,” Ghias said. “This really stuck with me because Stanford’s D-School (Design School) is built to promote innovation and idea generation and it does exactly that.”

On the advice of students who participated in this program over the years and after receiving feedback from industry leaders, Kettering has recently renovated multiple areas on campus to open work spaces where students can brainstorm and experiment as individuals and collaboratively with their peers. The spaces complemented by the adoption of a mindset focused on entrepreneurship can help enhance the intersection of engineering and science with business on campus.

“We really honed our skills in a variety of areas,” said Stokes, a junior Industrial Engineering major. “We learned how to identify opportunities on campus, how to use these resources and opportunities effectively and strategize priorities necessary for success.”

After participating in the University Fellows Program, both Stokes and Ghias are beginning the process of manifesting the concepts they learned on Kettering’s campus.

“As far as infusing these ideas with Kettering, we have already begun acting as change agents on campus,” Stokes said “Past University Innovation Fellows have helped pave the way for open work spaces on campus, like T-Space (Tinker Space) and the various D-Spaces.”

The T-Space and D-Spaces, areas on Kettering University’s campus intended to foster creativity among students through technology and creativity, are essential to Ghias and Stokes’ plans to encourage innovation amongst the student body.

“Stanford is able to have more students building things independently or working on side projects. Kettering is having trouble doing this even though both universities have highly technical students,” Ghias said.

Both Ghias and Stokes are currently developing new ideas for the Kettering Entrepreneur Society, T-Space, and other collaborative organizations on campus. One such example last term was the Red Paper Clip Challenge, a trader challenge meant to replicate the experience of Canadian blogger Kyle MacDonald, who bartered his way from a single red paperclip to a two story house.

“We also have some other ideas that are still in the planning phase and are scheduled to be unveiled later this summer, so stay tuned,” Stokes said. “Overall, we are ecstatic about applying the skills we learned at Stanford and are looking forward to seeing the student body become more interdisciplinary as a whole.”

Written By Nathan Seeley |