I-FiT: Innovation Fellows in Training

International high school students: discover how you FiT at Iowa State!

The Student Innovation Center’s Innovation Fellows-in-Training program, challenging international high school students to innovate beyond the classroom

By Julia Meehan, Communications Assistant | Published  September 13, 2021

Are you an international high school student who wants to experience college even before applying to attend? Do you yearn to learn beyond classroom and career constructs alone? To create a legacy of innovation?

Students from all around the world meet for the I-FiT program virtually. Photo by Karen Piconi Kerns.

That’s exactly what the Student Innovation Center’s Innovation Fellows-in-Training (I-FiT) program at Iowa State University is all about! 

No matter where you are across the globe, I-FiT provides opportunities for international high school students to jumpstart their college careers and prepare them for their future endeavors. The program is a microcosm of what it means to be a college student at Iowa State University, where learning and innovation happen alongside world-renowned faculty and leading industry influencers.

“We wanted to differentiate students’ experiences and also prepare future students for how to be successful at Iowa State, and how we learn at Iowa State, to give them a sense of what learning is like,” said Karen Piconi Kerns, director of innovation programming for the Student Innovation Center. “The hands-on experience is incredibly helpful to them as they are making decisions at college.”

Start your college experience now

According to Jorge Calderon, assistant director of international recruitment for Iowa State, the I-Fit program is specifically designed to give international high school students a one-of-a-kind college-level experience.  

But what does that really mean? 

When you apply to the I-FiT program, you will have opportunities to: 

  • win prizes ranging from $500 to $2,500;
  • attend short-course innovation workshops created by Iowa State professors and globally-known innovators;
  • join a student community of Iowa State University Innovation Fellows;
  • compete for your school and learn from other international students; 
  • and get unique access to internationally recognized employers, inventors and innovators.

Adding to the list of benefits, Calderon said participation can greatly improve a student’s resume or university application regardless of what university they choose to attend. An I-FiT credential goes a long way, he said, as it demonstrates a global perspective that can be very attractive to a college or employer. 

Whether it is creating an app with computer scientists, pitching a business concept or launching a global film festival for performing arts, the I-FiT program always kicks off with a conversation with students around the world.  

Because you FiT at Iowa State

I-FiT at Iowa State University through the past couple of years. Photo by Karen Piconi Kerns

More than 700 students from Bangladesh, Bolivia, China, Ethiopia, Hong Kong, India, Korea and Vietnam are currently a part of I-Fit. Over this past summer’s challenges, there were 215 teams, 30+ schools and 21 countries involved, along with 741 student registrations and 597 unique student participants.

Simply submit an application to join in. Then you’ll be ready to engage in critical thinking about what others around the world are doing, how their perspectives are similar or different, how you can add to the global conversation, and how you can use creative problem solving to impact the world. 

“When the students participate in the I-FiT program, it doesn’t end there,” Calderon said, as students in the Innovation Fellows program participate in circuits, competitions, forums and more offered through the Student Innovation Center.

And the experience doesn’t have to end when you leave high school. Piconi Kerns said being a part of the program is a great way to transition into a full college experience as a Cyclone.

“Iowa State’s goal is to give students an experience of how and where they might fit in at Iowa State,” Piconi Kerns said. “I do want students to have a sense of how they could fit here.”

There are opportunities to continue within the program as an Innovation Fellow alongside pursuing a degree at Iowa State. 

“I think that’s all so special knowing that you participated in this but there is a continuation. You will continue to connect with students through the Innovation Center and participate in the events that you’re interested in,” Calderon said. 

Check out Jed Wyse, an Iowa State undergraduate student a part of the Innovation Fellows Students on why he loves Iowa State. Wyse and Chinar Kaul, an Iowa State undergraduate and ISU Innovation Fellow, co-presented in the recent “My School is Cool” I-FiT challenge with more than 70 international students participating.

If you’re a high school student itching to start your college experience early, apply to be a part of I-FiT today!