Ignite Tribute to Innovation

Ignite Tribute to Innovation

Student Innovation Fellows program recognizes students, faculty and industry partners during Ignite Innovation Showcase award ceremony

By Julia Meehan, Communications Assistant | Published April 28, 2021

Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen speaks during the 2021 Ignite Innovation Showcase awards ceremony. Photo by Julia Meehan
The inaugural Iowa State University Ignite Innovation Showcase ended its eight-day celebration on Friday evening with a ceremony honoring distinguished students, faculty and staff, and industry partners involved in the Student Innovation Fellows program.

The Innovation Fellows Program engages and invites students to participate in invention and technical readiness at a level of professional practice typically reserved for industry influencers. Students participate in a series of experiences that expand their mindset, create innovator habits through experiential learning, and assist them in designing and launching projects to meet big challenges. The virtual programming gives them access to senior, executive level innovators who have set the bar in their fields.

Karen Piconi Kerns, director of innovation programs for the Student Innovation Center, said 67 students are currently participating in the program, which kicked off its first year in 2020.

“The goal of [the Student Innovation Fellows program] is to give students, faculty and staff a behavioral skill set that is typically not taught or exposed in classroom learning,” Piconi Kerns said. “Classroom learning tends to reinforce technical expertise and experiences. Courses are rarely organized to model and teach the psychological, behavioral and professional practice standards, best practices to create relationships, to self-promote, to promote others, to elevate a business cause, and to advance and accelerate your business ideas.”

The program, open to undergraduate and graduate students, encourages participation in various Innovation Programs, including Innovation Circuits, Dash and Sprint Challenges, Flagship Friday Innovator Forums, and more. How far a student progresses through the program is up to them, and the Student Innovation Center’s programming team is there to support them every step of the way.

The Ignite Innovation Showcase provided an opportunity to recognize graduating students who have gone above and beyond within the program

These Fellows were honored during the Ignite Innovation Showcase Awards Ceremony on Friday, April 23, for the hours they dedicated toward the program.

Six students were honored for the highest tier of participation as Gold Level Distinguished Fellow, receiving a certificate and pin for logging at least 540 hours as fellows. These students, many of which actually logged between 600 and 1100 hours, include:

  • Owen Cline, Industrial Technology
  • Priyaanka Krishnan, Education
  • Mani Bhuma, Aerospace Engineering
  • Ashwin Yedavalli, Mechanical Engineering
  • Abigail Luchsinger, Performing Arts
  • Charles Wickham, Industrial Design

Three students were recognized as Cardinal Level Fellows certificate and pin recipients for logging more than 344 hours:

  • Eric Diaz, Industrial Design
  • Ruben Arias, Data Science
  • Sandeep Stanley, Aerospace Engineering

And, finally, two students were recognized as Fellows Certificate recipients for logging more than 120 hours in the program:

  • Abraham Polonia Suarez, Industrial Design
  • Nathan Lindberg, Mechanical Engineering

“Iowa State University does an outstanding job at helping our students be technically excellent,” Piconi Kerns said. “This [program] is the container that will help them package their technical excellence, so that they can deliver meaningful contribution.”

In addition to honoring the students who have progressed though the Student Innovation Fellows program, the Ignite Innovation Showcase ceremony also honored those who helped support the program and its participants such as the core innovation leadership team and the program’s Innovators in Residence.

A key advantage to students in the Fellows program is that those who have projects are partnered with industry specialists who can accelerate progress and potentially offer a professional pipeline to future employment.  More than eighty industry partners have dedicated their time, expertise and creativity to cultivating student success throughout the last year.

Students Owen Cline, Luke Muilenburg and Jansen Bundridge stand with President Wendy Wintersteen during the awards ceremony on Friday, April 23. Photo by Gabby Lucas

Distinguished innovators who contribute four to ten hours monthly were honored during the ceremony, and include:

  • Dennis Muilenburg, chairman, founder and CEO at DAM CyFly Consulting LLC
  • David Slump, president of global marketing, strategy and services at HARMAN
  • James Altamirano, senior experience design and innovation strategist at Principal Financial
  • Gary Griswold, consultant in IP policy, strategy and management, and chair of the board of the ISU Research Foundation
  • Steve Johanns, founder and chairman at Villedge Solutions
  • Anthony Sardella, investor, founder and vice chairman at evolve24
  • Jeff Underwood, vice president of enterprise innovation at Kent Corp

To watch the Ignite Innovation Showcase ceremony, and other archived events from throughout the week, you can still register for the event at https://www.regcytes.extension.iastate.edu/innovate/.

For students or industry partners interested in learning more about the Student Innovation Fellows program, visit https://www.sictr.iastate.edu/.