Professor David Feinauer, David Crawford School of Engineering
The University Innovation Fellows (UIF) Program is run by Epicenter—the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation—and supported through the National Science Foundation (NSF), VentureWell, and Stanford University. The program engages students with an entrepreneurial mindset and empowers them to become change-makers on their campuses through a nationwide mentorship and support network.Jacob Keasbey ’17, a civil engineering major and Norwich’s first UIF Program Fellow, is determined to spread the idea that students should be innovative thinkers both inside and outside the classroom. Keasbey attests that the program was very influential in his development as a student entrepreneur and as a student motivator.
The intense, six-week program included a trip to Silicon Valley and, back home, online networking sessions, campus canvassing assignments, and stakeholder interviews.
These allowed Keasbey to better understand Norwich’s culture around supporting student innovators and enabled him to brainstorm with a cohort of students around the country as they worked to develop new entrepreneurship and innovation opportunities at their home institutions.
“The trip to Silicon Valley lasted only five days but was one of the greatest experiences of my college career to date,” Keasbey said. “All of the students in the program met up on this trip and spent time at Google headquarters and the Stanford Design School.”
“These visits offered a great look into how campuses and companies are trying to develop an innovation and entrepreneurial mindset,” he said.
The program enabled Keasbey to identify key resources already on campus as well as other resources in the local area. These include a high level of faculty engagement and mentorship and the undergraduate summer research program. He concluded the formal program in May with a desire to help other Norwich students work to turn their innovative ideas into business concepts.
Keasbey’s desire to help students manifested in his work as president of the student entrepreneurship club during the past year. Through the club, Keasbey continues to work closely with DCSE Lecturer David Feinauer, Professor, SBM Director Najiba Benabess, and other supporters to grow the club’s presence on campus and to offer new opportunities for students to engage in entrepreneurialism.