What do approximately 20 engaged students, 10 invested faculty and staff, and an inordinate number of Chipotle burritos have in common? They were all gathered in Yates Gill College Union 221 for a University Innovation Fellows (UIF) hosted Rapid-Prototyping and problem solving event, April 18.
The event was headed by Denver Strong, senior mathematics and physics major, a UIF passionate about invoking change on campus through creative problem solving. With the guidance of Dr. Kelli Schutte, chair of the Business Department and UIF faculty advisor, Strong organized this event to get student athletes and relevant school officials in the same room and talking about the things that matter.
Each individual attending the event was allowed to select their seat at a table with a designated conversation topic. The topics discussed included: academic achievement, counseling, facilities, funding
These subjects were identified for two key reasons: first, they were deemed to be relevant to all William Jewell College students, but have special significance for student athletes, and second, at a UIF event hosted Nov. 2018, these areas were identified to be in need of positive change.
During the event Strong imparted onto attendees some of the skills learned during the extensive UIF training process – to be accepted into the program, students must complete an online application, be vetted by officials at Stanford University and then complete a six-week training program culminating in a four day workshop in Silicon Valley, CA.
Strong concentrated on the UIF model of creating rapid change by developing small-scale physical representations of ideas – prototypes – allowing for immediate feedback from potential users, as opposed to waiting weeks for bureaucratic procedures and high-tech models to be constructed. At the April 18 event Strong had groups of students, faculty and staff work together to construct prototypes for solutions to issues affecting athletes on campus.
The event was supported and co-hosted by former Student Senate President Jakob Miller, senior economics and mathematics major, who was exposed to the UIF design thinking process at the Nov. 2018 event hosted at Rock’n’Run. UIF is an organization that has been active on Jewell’s campus for a number of years and has implemented several projects in the Kansas City community, including the popular #OneDayKC event. This year Jewell’s UIF cohort has focused their energy on empowering community groups – including local schools – by teaching them some of the tools learned through the Stanford designed training program.