Student innovation sets the U apart

When you think about innovation at the U, you might immediately think of faculty research and commercialization. That is critical and impressive, but it’s only one piece of the picture. Thousands of students — from middle schoolers to post-docs — also play a central role through many unique programs, competitions and opportunities. These students are creating real value while also having an amazing learning experience.

Student innovation opportunities can be found in all corners of campus. Engineering students apply their professional skills through capstone courses. Art students create ground-breaking video games through the Entertainment Arts and Engineering program. Medical students invent devices and compete in Bench to Bedside. Business students prepare business plans to win part of $100,000 in prizes in the Utah Entrepreneur Series. Aspiring scientists build robots and create innovative projects in Utah FIRST LEGO League.

And these are only a few of the ways students get involved with innovation at the U.

A great example is the Lassonde New Venture Development Center, which pairs faculty inventors with graduate students who write business plans for them. “The Lassonde New Venture program taught me to look at a problem or situation from a different perspective than I do in my current degree program,” says Brandon Welch, a Ph.D. student in biomedical informatics. “I am able to see the world from another perspective, which allows me to understand the problem or situation and its solution to a greater extent than without this additional training.”

Another example is Innovation Scholar, an undergraduate recognition program for student innovators. “I would be lying if I said that this experience didn’t change my life,” says Brandon Bacon, a double major in chemistry and business. “The Innovation Scholar experience is like a springboard into the world of opportunities here at the U. I have learned that I enjoy innovating, never settling for the status quo and always looking for ways to be better and make things better.”

What all of these opportunities have in common is how students make real contributions while also having rich, meaningful experiences that they will carry with them through their education and lives. They learn what it takes to invent a new product, to start a company, to pitch a new idea, to change perceptions. They learn how to work with groups — young and old — in creative and productive ways. They learn how to turn failure into success.

Student innovation helps make the U a special place, and we invite you to get involved.

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