Five Union students named University Innovation Fellows

Publication Date

Five students have been named University Innovation Fellows, a highly-selective program designed to help foster entrepreneurship and innovation among students nationwide.

Meet Union's latest University Innovation Fellows: (from left) Luke McCaffrey ’18, Arielle Singer ’18, Lakhena Leang ’18, Vera Marsova ’18 and Robert Barsamian ’17

Meet Union's latest University Innovation Fellows: (from left) Luke McCaffrey ’18, Arielle Singer ’18, Lakhena Leang ’18, Vera Marsova ’18 and Robert Barsamian ’17

They are:

Luke McCaffrey ’18, a bioengineering major from Baldwinsville, N.Y.; Lakhena Leang ’18, a biochemistry major from DeKalb, Ill; Arielle Singer ’18, an Organizing Theme major (Marketing Engineering Products) from Culver City, Calif; Robert Barsamian ’17, an Organizing Theme major (Entrepreneurship) from Newton, Mass.; and Vera Marsova ’18, a bioengineering major from Vologda, Russia.

The group is among 155 students from 47 schools selected by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter). The program is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell.

The five new Fellows join Sean Farrell ’17, who was selected last year.

The program empowers student leaders to increase campus engagement with entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, design thinking and venture creation.

“Fellows are acting as co-designers of the higher education experience, and they are actively collaborating with faculty and administrators to make lasting changes at their schools,” said Humera Fasihuddin, co-leader of the program. “They utilize their resourcefulness, creativity and national network to make measurable gains, both in the number of resources and the students served by the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.”
Fellows are selected after an application process that includes an essay and a video highlighting their thoughts on innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. Once chosen, fellows complete six weeks of online training.

Later this month, Union’s Fellows will attend a meetup in Silicon Valley, which includes immersive experiences at Stanford University and Google.

The students are supported by faculty sponsors Shane Cotter, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Hal Fried, the David L. '39 and Beverly B. Yunich Professor of Business Ethics; Erika Nelson, associate professor of German; and Wendy Sternberg, dean of academic departments and programs.

Sternberg said Union’s Fellows have already made an impact on campus by spearheading the creation of the Idea Lab in Schaffer Library and working on a proposal for a new Minerva course on Innovation, Creativity and the Entrepreneurial Mindset.

The Fellows are also working with Wise Labs, a technology commercialization firm with an incubator in downtown Schenectady, to design entrepreneurial programming for the campus. This will include a boot camp for students who want to start their own business.

“The program provides an opportunity for our students to make a difference on campus and advance our efforts in Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship,’ Sternberg said. “It also connects our students to the national conversation about these issues in higher education.”