Four SLU Students Named Epicenter University Innovation Fellows

February 25, 2016
Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Parks College News

akshitkalantri175x145Akshit Kalantri

Saint Louis University’s Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology students Akshit Kalantri, Christine Maida, Aaron Phu and Krusha Shah have been named University Innovation Fellows by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), joining 151 other students from 47 higher education institutions´╗┐.

The University Innovation Fellows program empowers students to become agents of change at their schools. Fellows work to ensure that their peers gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to compete in the economy of the future and make a positive impact on the world.

To accomplish this, the Fellows advocate for lasting institutional change and create opportunities for students to engage with innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and creativity at their schools. Fellows design innovation spaces, start entrepreneurship organizations, host experiential learning events and work with faculty to develop new courses. Fellows who joined the program in the 2014-15 academic year held 112 events and established 35 spaces at their schools.

christinemaida175x145Christine Maida

“It is an honor to represent SLU on such a large platform. It gives us the chance to increase the innovation and entrepreneurship mindset not just at Parks’ but the campus at a whole. By participating, I hope to learn skills to help introduce innovation and entrepreneurship into various facets of campus,” said sophomore, mechanical engineering student, Krusha Shah.

Parks engineering graduate student Aaron Phu added, “It is an honor to be a part of the University Innovation Fellow (UIF) program. This is a great opportunity to seek change and bring what is best to our campus and our students, which will have a lasting impact on their college experience. In addition, I will have more opportunity to work with our faculty sponsors, administrators, UIF leaders, as well as collaborating with other fellows across the country. I am excited to about this program and ready to be the agent of change for SLU!”

The program is run by Epicenter, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell. With the addition of the new Fellows, the program has trained 607 students at 143 institutions since the beginning of the Epicenter grant.

arraonphu175x145Arron Phu

Individual Fellows as well as institutional teams of Fellows are sponsored by faculty and administrators 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 University Innovation Fellows Annual Meetup in Silicon Valley. 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.

“Through this program, Fellows learn how to analyze their campus ecosystems for new opportunities, understand the needs of stakeholders at their schools, collaborate with peers from different disciplines, and solve problems that have no clear answers,” said Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, co-leader of the University Innovation Fellows program. “All of these mindsets and skills will help Fellows make a difference in higher education as well as in the increasingly complex world that awaits them after graduation.”

krushashah175x145Krusha Shah

In late March, students will have the opportunity to participate in the Silicon Valley Meetup, which brings together all Fellows trained in Fall 2015 and Spring 2016. During this meeting, March 17-22, Fellows will take part in immersive experiences at Google and Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design ( They will participate in experiential workshops and exercises focused on topics including movement building, student innovation spaces, design of learning experiences, and new models of change in higher education.

To learn more about the strategic priorities that the SLU students have planned, as well as view their project pitch video, visit:´╗┐

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