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How to start a student innovation council

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Briana Cantos was an Electrical Engineering student at Florida Institute of Technology. She was wondering why her university had not done an engineer’s week in years and wanted to host one. She realized through managing this event that her school needed an innovation council to bring different majors together. She was then introduced to the University Innovation Fellows program by a friend. Through UIF and her innovation council she had a successful engineer’s week.

To make this council real one first needs to find a need like Briana seeing that different majors on her campus were not working together. She began talking to people of different majors and becoming friends with them. She started getting support from many people to be part of her innovation council. At the start, she made sure to focus on the people helping her and not the ones working against her.

The innovation council was made to be very adjustable. It was low cost and movable. Ideally, they met in a startup space run by another Fellow but, if this was not available they would reserve space in the library. Meetings would start with icebreakers and giving people design challenges to get strangers to work together and become closer. All they really needed in terms of physical objects was some white boards and snacks. It was really the people that brought it together.

Every successful innovator has learned to develop their perseverance and tenacity muscles. The life of an innovator is never smooth sailing, and it takes guts to keep going when people doubt your abilities. The ability to lead a team and stay organized is important when you become an Innovator.Some challenges faced were in fact finding the right people. It was important to find people who really were motivated to take care of the space and inspire innovation.Innovation is the ability to see things differently and to provide solutions where there are gaps. To build your innovative skills, intentionally try something new. Do something that others won’t do. Talk to people that is out of your circle of comfort. You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over. There is nothing like real-world experience.But it worked out that Engineer’s week could work as a launch for the space and a way to find those innovative, motivated people.

Pairing an innovation space or council with an event full of innovative people can allow an ideal space and time to get the innovation space or council started.