University of Dayton University Innovation Fellows at Google 2018

After Innovation Warmups, the UIF Dayton Team Moves Forward

By Karen Updyke, School of Engineering

Baylor Franck, electrical engineering; Anna Hecht, electrical engineering; Brian Sikora, chemical engineering; and Jennifer Welch, mechanical engineering, represented UD at the global program that empowers students to increase campus engagement through innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity. Stanford University Hasso Plattner Institute of Design ( hosted the meetup and provided ongoing support of the students.

Excerpts from the uif student experiences:

The first day of the meetup was spent at the Google campus. We convened in the Noogler Room, which is where new Google employees are brought for orientation. The amazing room has an open layout with huge glass windows on three sides and tables and chairs with wheels to accommodate various layouts. The tabletop whiteboards were our favorites, so easy to write and erase allowing ideas to flow with quick directional changes. Throughout the day, we had several speakers including the Chief Innovation Evangelist and an employee from X, who works on secretive and technologically advanced projects. We listened to the different jobs they had as well as some of their unique career paths with interest. We also engaged in various critical thinking and brainstorming activities. Overall, the day was an amazing experience. They even provided us time to explore the city of Palo Alto, which is now one of our favorite places.

The second day was spent at Stanford University, specifically, their Design School (d.School). We began with “innovation warm ups” including team-building activities based around creativity to learn to appreciate the creativity of others and to build upon it throughout the day. We toured the d.School spaces that have been optimized for creativity and innovation. They were filled with white boards, couches on rollers or tables on rollers that were completely transformable based on the behaviors in the room. Our challenge: to observe the moods each space invokes and what aspects reflect these attitudes. Next, we attended workshops that helped us to identify how we work with a team in order to improve our approach. The “unconference” was the most beneficial. We split into different spaces of the d.School to discuss topics, issues or ideas. We discussed our projects with UIF members from other schools and received feedback. Overall, Day 2 sparked several new ideas for our UIF team.

On the third day, we returned to the Stanford d.School and started with a session of ignites from our FABS (Student UIF Leaders) that continued to instill motivation and thought-provoking ideas in our hearts and minds. Next, we broke into small groups and were led through a design-thinking seminar. This amazing experience resulted in a new lens for addressing problems and generating new ideas. Afterwards, we worked in our leadership circle and addressed one of the problems that we had previously worked on during our six-week training process. This was an enlightening experience because it was the first time that we were able to apply what we had learned to our problems. Overall, it was a fantastic day, and we left Stanford ready to change the world.  

moving forward:

The Silicon Valley meetup was inspiring, energizing and enlightening. We learned a lot about ourselves as leaders and as a team. On the journey back to Dayton, we were having project discussions in the shuttle, airports and even on the plane. The meetup made us excited about our work and gave us direction. Several of our projects significantly shifted focus as a result of what we learned at Google and the d.School. We now have four different projects that each Fellow is leading. One of us is working to implement a meetup workshop on Design Thinking into the first-year curriculum. Another is establishing an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Integrated Living Learning Community in our first-year student dorms. Another Fellow has been developing new student spaces in the engineering building, modeled on the d.School, while another works to establish a meditation space in the center of campus, inspired by meditations led throughout the meetup. Each project is a direct result of the training and inspiration that we received through the UIF process. As we push these projects forward, we look forward to maintaining our relationships with Fellows at other schools and utilizing these relationships to create solutions on campus and around the world!

their four priorities:

  • Create a collaborative space in Kettering Labs
  • Cross CAP courses
  • Develop a resource for locating vacant rooms
  • Establish a living learning community

Click here to read the UIF student's 2018 priority problem statements and proposals.

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