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Two UMD Students Named University Innovation Fellows

May 8, 2014

Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235

UMD one of only eight universities chosen to participate in Leadership Circle pilot program

    University Innovation Fellows
  Dean Chang, President Wallace Loh, Meenu Singh, Atin Mittra, and Valerie Sherry

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Two University of Maryland students have been named University Innovation Fellows by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter). Meenu Singh and Atin Mittra are two of only 66 university students from 45 higher education institutions across the United States to be chosen as fellows this semester. They join fellow UMD student Valerie Sherry, who was the first-ever UMD student to receive this fellowship last year.

The University Innovation Fellows are a network of student leaders working to create lasting institutional change that will increase student engagement with entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, design thinking and venture creation. The program is part of a national movement to help all students gain the attitudes, skills and knowledge required for them to compete in the economy of the future.

“The University of Maryland couldn’t be more proud of Meenu, Atin and Valerie,” said Dean Chang, UMD's associate vice president for innovation and entrepreneurship. “Their selections in this nationally prominent program are further recognition of UMD’s leadership position in innovation, and their fearless ideas for the program will help advance University President Wallace Loh’s goals of weaving innovation and entrepreneurship across all 12 colleges and schools.”

The program offers undergraduate students in engineering and other fields the guidance and support to become agents of change on their home campuses. “It is no longer enough for engineering students to graduate with a purely technical education,” said Tom Byers, director of Epicenter and professor at Stanford University. “Whether they start their own companies or join established organizations, engineers need to have an entrepreneurial mindset to identify and seize opportunities, bring their ideas to life, and solve global problems.”

Singh and Mittra, both engineering majors, recently completed their University Innovation Fellows training, during which they connected with their new network of fellows, examined UMD's current entrepreneurial ecosystems and formulated action plans for their ideas. While leading a service learning trip to the Dominican Republic, Mittra applied what he has learned as a University Innovation Fellow and from the university's Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

"We envision a campus of empowered students who are willing to pursue their ideas and able to define their own education," said Singh and Mittra.

Singh and Mittra have several projects for UMD that they plan to explore as part of their fellowship. These include:

  • Make innovation and entrepreneurship part of every student's experience at UMD;
  • Encourage prototyping by creating workshops, courses, and resources that empower students to bring their ideas to life;
  • Create a "Terpfolio"—a platform to showcase the stories behind the projects in which students invest passion, time, and effort;
  • Begin a financial literacy campaign to help students understand how to take out loans, seek funding and more; and
  • Shift the paradigm from asking students to pitch their ideas to asking students to bring their ideas to life.

The university will also be participating in Epicenter's University Innovation Fellows Leadership Circle pilot program – one of only eight universities chosen to participate. In order to participate in the Leadership Circle, universities were required to have multiple fellows and a letter of recommendation directly from the university's president. The Leadership Circle program allows a group of University Innovation Fellows to work together to develop and implement strategies, and gain greater traction in starting an innovation and entrepreneurship movement. Singh, Mittra and Sherry will all be participating in the Leadership Circle.

UMD prides itself as a pioneer in educating the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs, ranked as one of the nation's top public schools in the U.S. for entrepreneurship and innovation. The Princeton Review ranked UMD No. 6 among public universities and No. 15 overall for its undergraduate entrepreneurship program, and No. 8 among public universities and No. 16 overall for its graduate entrepreneurship program. The university was also recognized as No. 1 among public universities and No. 2 overall for tech entrepreneurship by the 2013 StartEngine College Index.

Epicenter is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA).

Learn more about the University Innovation Fellows program at http://epicenter.stanford.edu/university-innovation-fellows.