03 Nov 2022

SAU Students Join Prestigious Stanford d.school University Innovation Fellows Program

Saint Augustine’s University (SAU) students Kevin Collins, Marcus Davis, and Peter Musenge were among the 242 students from 63 higher education institutions in 16 countries named University Innovation Fellows.

“The new Fellows are designing experiences that help all students learn skills and mindsets necessary to navigate these uncertain times and to shape the future they want to see,” said Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, co-director of the University Innovation Fellows program. “They are giving back to their school communities, as well as learning strategies that will help them serve as leaders in their careers after graduation.”

Collins and Davis are in the SAU Public Administration master’s degree program. Musenge is a senior double majoring in Biology and Engineering Mathematics. They are the institution’s first University Innovation Fellows (UIF) cohorts, sponsored by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school) and Google.

“Part of our challenge as University Innovation Fellows is to look at the needs of our campus and determine where we can provide some innovation,” Collins said.

The UIF program teaches students about design-centered thinking while empowering them to become change agents for their respective universities. Design thinking is a way to define and solve tough challenges.

“Reimagining SAU involves empowering our student leaders to serve as co-creators of current and future student experiences,” said President Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail. “The inclusion of our students into the University Innovation Fellows program aligns with our institution’s mission, vision, and strategic initiatives to bring diversity in innovation and entrepreneurship.”

The students plan an ambitious innovation project this fall titled the Falcon Fl1ght LAB. The Falcon Fl1ght LAB is a Collaboratorium and MakerSpace designed for students to engage in a facilitated environment that promotes creative problem-solving and solutions design. This space design will include technology-enhanced divergent and convergent spaces for ideation and collaboration. Based on design thinking, students at SAU can collaborate and conceptualize solutions to address current university and city-wide dilemmas from a creative lens.

“We noticed there wasn’t a space on campus for problem-solving, idea generation/collaboration, or product prototyping using technology,” said Musenge. “We believe that creating the Falcon Fl1ght LAB merges the three areas into one space that inspires students to solve our most pressing challenges in the community and university.”

“It’s about being a change agent equipped with the skill to make change happen,” said Davis.

Terry T. Kidd, Ph.D., Vice President of Strategic Planning, Research, Technology, and Innovation, and Veronica Creech, Vice President of Economic Development & External Engagement, lead the Falcon Fl1ght LAB, the revolutionary student-led idea that is part of the innovation portfolio.

“SAU applied for the UIF program in spring 2021,” Dr. Kidd said. “Kevin, Peter, and Marcus were heavily engaged in training, webinars, and coaching sessions designed to teach and develop their skills in design thinking. In addition, they worked with Stanford University on the weekends and did their SAU schoolwork.”

The UIF program is an example of how SAU delivers on its mission. This mission guarantees that the university’s students will have meaningful opportunities to practice leadership and become change agents. Collins, Davis, and Musenge will attend an in-person conference for the University Innovation Fellows program at Stanford University in March. Fellows from across the nation will meet to discuss their projects and network. Faculty champions will also be on hand to support their students and strategize over ways to better assist them.

“As faculty champion, I saw firsthand their abilities to showcase their innovative and entrepreneurial skills,” Dr. Kidd said. “The SAU proposed Falcon Fl1ght LAB is a brilliant idea since all ideas are developed and spearheaded by the students. They are the brainchild and genius behind this project.”

This Makerspace receives input from multiple sectors to empower a new level of engagement to develop, prototype, and test actual solutions that emerge from the Collaboratorium.

“The Falcon Fl1ght LAB will help create a space that drives solutions to improve the campus and surrounding community,” Creech said. “The Falcon Fl1ght LAB will expose students to various design thinking principles, technologies, community members, and investors. In addition, other entrepreneurs will enrich the academic experience that prepares students for today’s global society.”

Click here to learn more about the Falcon Fl1ght LAB.

About Saint Augustine’s University

Founded in 1867 by the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, the mission of Saint Augustine’s University is to sustain a learning community in which students can prepare academically, socially, and spiritually for leadership in a complex, diverse, and rapidly changing world.

About the University Innovation Fellows program

The University Innovation Fellows program empowers students to become agents of change at their schools. The Fellows are a global community of students leading a movement to ensure that all students gain the necessary attitudes, skills and knowledge required to compete in the economy of the future. These student leaders from schools around the country create new opportunities that help their peers develop an entrepreneurial mindset, build creative confidence, seize opportunities, define problems and address global challenges. Fellows are creating student innovation spaces, founding entrepreneurship organizations, hosting experiential events, and working with faculty and administrators to develop courses. They serve as advocates for lasting institutional change with academic leaders and represent their schools at national events. The University Innovation Fellows is a program of Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school). Learn more at universityinnovationfellows.org.