Selected graduate and undergraduate students to train alongside national peers to catalyze innovation and venture development activity at universities
Hadley, MA, January 10, 2013 – The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) and its partner the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter) today announced an expansion of their successful Student Ambassadors Program.
The program, founded in 2009, trains student leaders to promote entrepreneurship and venture activity, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines, among their peers on college and university campuses throughout the U.S. Today’s announced expansion consists of a six-session online training, piloted in Fall 2012. With this new programming, the national organizations will be able to train many more students and do so in parallel with their academic coursework.
The Student Ambassadors Program was created to foster student leaders who can encourage their peers to engage in venture activity while at school. Trainers from NCIIA and Epicenter teach Student Ambassadors tactics for creating a climate of entrepreneurship, providing them with a large national network of peers and insights into new and potentially relevant strategies deployed on similar campuses.
The program operates under the premise that students can catalyze greater levels of entrepreneurship and innovation activity than is presently taking place in U.S. institutions of higher learning. Student demand for entrepreneurship training as part of their academic experience is clear, yet an overwhelming number of U.S. college students report having no access to on-campus entrepreneurship resources. While many institutions have adopted strong programs, their success in reaching capable and inclined students has been mixed. This has changed on campuses that have recruited a Student Ambassador to do peer-to-peer outreach.
“These student leaders have spearheaded substantial projects that are helping to shape their ecosystems,” says Humera Fasihuddin, program manager at NCIIA. “Among the projects directed by Student Ambassadors are student-led incubators, student venture funds and organizations that break down the silos of the typical academic institution. What’s exciting is that students, as customers of education, are leading the movement of greater collaboration between STEM disciplines like engineering and biomedical technologies, business, art and other areas of study.”
Student Ambassadors consistently report that the program is life-changing. From invitations to exclusive dinners with chancellors, to raising $25,000 in sponsorship, to meeting prominent alumni like Steve Wozniak, Student Ambassadors have gone on to earn the Theil Fellowship ($100,000 to pause schooling to work on their venture), spearhead venture-backed startups and form global companies leveraging their experiences as a Student Ambassador.
A $5,000 registration fee covers intensive training for the Student Ambassador. “Although historically this fee has been covered by professors and deans of engineering, we’ve received calls from parents wishing to sponsor their child as a Student Ambassador,” Fasihuddin said. “Alumni, technology associations and corporations might also be interested in a low-cost tax-deductable way to fund an entrepreneurial young person to connect university research and capability with off-campus economic activity.”
The six-week session begins the week of February 18, 2013, with students working on assignments—solo and in collaborative teams—and meeting online for one hour each week to share results with instructors and peers. After training, students have gone on to hold campus-wide events, experiential learning opportunties, and new entrepreneurship club gatherings. In addition, Student Ambassadors gain access to reports, monthly online meetings with program organizers and peers, and exclusive opportunities to network, including the 17th Annual OPEN conference, which brings together the nation’s leaders in technology entrepreneurship in higher education (Washington D.C., March 22-23, 2013).
The organizations expect to hold two online training sesions per year in the Spring (deadline: February 11, 2013) and Fall (deadline: September 16, 2013). To register a Student Ambassador or learn more, visit www.nciia.org/studentambassadors.
The NCIIA catalyzes positive social and environmental impact through invention and technological innovation by providing funding, training and mentoring for university faculty and student innovators. With support from The Lemelson Foundation, the National Science Foundation and a membership of nearly 200 colleges and universities from all over the United States, the NCIIA engages approximately 5,000 student entrepreneurs each year, leveraging their campuses as working laboratories for invention and innovation and incubators for businesses, and ultimately helping them to bring their ideas to market. For more information, please visit www.nciia.org.
Epicenter is an education, research and outreach hub for the creation and sharing of entrepreneurship and innovation resources among engineering schools in the U.S. Funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by the Stanford Technology Ventures Program at Stanford University, Epicenter is dedicated to preparing undergraduate engineers to become bold innovators with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to contribute to the prosperity of the U.S. economy and society. For more information, please visit epicenter.stanford.edu.
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