Wichita State News
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Five Wichita State students were named as university innovation fellows. Wesley Alexis, left, Austin Crane, Hannah Hund and Saad Syed (Kevin Kraus not pictured).

Shocker students named as innovation fellows, have big plans for Wichita State

Monday, November 2, 2015

Five Wichita State University students have been named University Innovation Fellows by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter).

Wesley Alexis, Austin Crane, Hannah Hund, Kevin Kraus and Saad Syed are the first students from Wichita State to be named fellows through this prestigious national program, whose goal is to empower student leaders to increase campus engagement with innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity and design thinking.

As fellows, the students are expected to be leaders at Wichita State, working as a team to advocate for lasting institutional change and create opportunities for WSU students. At other universities that often includes designing innovation spaces, starting entrepreneurship organizations, hosting experiential learning events and working with faculty to develop new courses.

“I think with WSU’s current effort toward becoming an innovation campus, it is essential to find ways to improve the campus culture to get people talking to people and to get colleges from different disciplines to collaborate,” Austin says. 

The Wichita State team is already pursuing that goal with several strategies and initiatives already in the works.

Projects include:

  • Altering the campus culture through curriculum: To do this, they want to find ways to introduce students to design courses early on, as well as offer interdisciplinary design courses to give students a more rounded, interactive class experience.
  • Shocker Startup: Alexis and Hund, along with a handful of other WSU students, recently created Shocker Startup, a student organization that promotes entrepreneurship across the campus and community.
  • Develop legal competency and security for designers and creatives: As an entrepreneurial student, it’s imperative to understand how intellectual property works. Goals for this include offering courses on patent law, employing external legal counsel and offering legal workshops for student entrepreneurs, designers and creatives.
  • Innovation Central Network: This involves setting up an online network of students with different skills and resources to partner up with each other for their projects.
  • Improve and initiate new avenues of inspiration and innovation: The goal is to start a tradition of hosting a TedX event every year for all students to help create a culture of inspiration and innovation.

The fellows will receive training, guidance and support from WSU faculty sponsors and Epicenter, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell.

Crane says the team has received a lot of Wichita State support, including biomedical engineering lecturer Gary Brooking, aerospace engineering professor James Steck, the Center for Entrepreneurship and the W. Frank Barton School of Business.

“Lots of people are excited to help us create an innovation culture on campus,” Crane says. “It is only going to get better and better.”

WSU President John Bardo is also one of those supporters.

“I’ve been very impressed with the early work of the University Innovation Fellows,” Bardo says. “They are already bringing new ideas to the forefront to accelerate WSU’s transformation to an Innovation University."

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Created on Monday, November 2, 2015; Last modified on Monday, November 2, 2015