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North Dakota State University Student Priorities

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Project Pitch 


Here at North Dakota State University, we are developing a community that lays the framework for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Although events, programs, and resources are needed for an entrepreneurial community to flourish, they are not the most important part of the process. The most important part is the community, and we feel the community has not been given enough attention. 

1. Build & Connect the Community

Tactic #1 Hammock Initiative (discontinued)

The best opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation mean nothing if people aren't involved. We feel that to create a community of entrepreneurs we have to first create a community where people can just be people. That is why one of our main priorities is to bring an organization to campus that will host events where all expectations to be innovative or have creative ideas are eliminated. It's called the Hammock Initiative, or Hi for short and its vision is simple.

We want to see people gathered together for the purpose of relaxing, enjoying each other’s company and, literally, hanging out. This vision may not sound audacious or ambitious, and that’s the point. It’s an opportunity for people to be, not do

By getting people together to hammock for the sake of just being, we believe natural conversation where ideas and innovation are born will start all on their own. And with how busy people are, I think we can all agree that some time set aside to relax is needed. 

The Initiative has had a very successful year, holding several events in North Dakota, Minnesota, California, and Florida. It continues to grow with the work of UIF members. Unfortunatly, the project did not have a successful year in 2015, and was discontinued due to lack of participants.

Tactic #2 Innovation Open House (Currrently in process)

Creating an event/program that is simply an open house for people to show off what ideas they have both from the community as well as campus. This opportunity, would not be a competition, but rather a simple venue for anyone with an idea to display their work, regardless of stage. This would allow students to present ideas outside of a competition setting where they could "fail" and community members to see what parallels they are doing with research and development that students are already doing. A great way to create contacts and expand the network, but also the pen minds about what the NDSU Fargo region is capable of. 

Tactic #3 UI Fresh (Updated Fall 2017)

First year NDSU students are required to take a University 189 course which is essentially a welcome to college class, and for the most part seen as a joke. One challenge we have come up with is to use this opportunity to open the minds of fresh students before they can develop habit and get into their "groove".

UI Fresh is in the process of getting into the course work and doing design thinking activities with the students, thus giving them the ability to think creatively, introducing them to the opportunities on campus that they would either enjoy working in or use as a resource when need be. First hand design thinking activities allow them to see that Design thinking is a tactic they can apply in any field or in anyway. 

This is currently being implemented in 189 classes as stated above. The curriculum portion is still a work in progress. Our contiuing problem for this project is the lack of manpower to reach out to the first year NDSU students in their University 189 courses. However, there have been several lectures given in the 2016 spring semester and the 2017 fall semester, with even more planned for the spring of 2017. The faculty is on board and most of the feedback received has been quite positive. With this program, we hope to eventually help students in all years and diciplines understand design thinking.

2. Improve Existing Programs

Tactic #1 Revamped Innovation Challenge (Updated Fall 2017)

The innovation challenge is great and opens up many opportunities to the student body. However, it is heavily based on a business plan and requires the proposal to fit in a specific track that includes Products, Services, or Social Innovations. Because of this, we are suggesting we rework the criteria for the challenge and look at ways we can get more students involved and promote or collaborate on other school functions such as the Clinton Global Initiative. 

Tactic #2 Clinton Global Initiative (Updated)

Furthering the Innovation Challenge by augmenting it with the Clinton Global Initiative is one of the methods to make it better. The CGI is more social based and will allow those who do not have a business plan to not only enter a innovation club but will give the chance of moving even farther on than just NDSU.

One group was successfully chosen to participate and was very successful at the CGI meeting last spring. One UIF member was part of the winning team in the Hackathon. We are hoping to build upon this success this year.

Tactic #3 Professional Lecture Series (Updated Fall 2017)

NDSU had recently begun to bring regional professionals and entrepreneurs onto campus on a monthly basis called, Career Conversations, and its attendance has been abysmal. The value in a system like this could be incredible for opening minds, exposing new trends in the business environment to students and also simply networking, yet very few students attend. The system is flawed but the idea is there. One new method would be to change venues base on the department or realm that the speaker is based around, and also changing the mentality. A one hour lecture over a student's lunch is not an ideal manner, for either the student or the professional, yet having it at the tail end of a small intense course would gain results.

This process can open up doors for students and those in the business sector, by simply getting the conversation going, the fundamental element to connection. Bringing in speakers people know and or care about/ discussing topics people are intrigued about can further bridge the gap between the campus and community. 

3. Knock Down Barriers

Tactic #1 Engineering Wide Lab Access (Progressing)

Students need a work to develop their ideas. The college of Engineering has a number of labs with space, materials and equipment to further these ideas but they are not open to all NDSU students and even other Engineering students. The only way to get into many of the labs is to go in during business hours and be of that particular major. Allowing any Engineering student to access these labs would help provide a starter innovation space and show need for one in the future.

Tactic #1- Develop more connections between various engineering majors (Senior Design, ect) to encourage students not as far in the program to begin working in other labs from an earlier date

Description- Form bonds between all majors under the College of Engineering

Team Leaders

  • Univ 189 Professors
  • Academic Advisors
  • Senior Design Advisors


  • Convince the Dean of Engineering and department heads that it is beneficial to get outside of their specific major
  • Form more interdisciplinary senior designs
  • Develop strong ties between majors

Tactic #2 Open up Computer Labs for all majors

Description- Allow key card access to all engineering computer labs by all engineering students

Team Leaders

  • Lab Instructors
  • IT Department
  • UIF Students


  • Gain computer lab access

Tactic #3 Open up Technical Labs for all majors

Description- Open technical labs like the IME, ME, EE, AG, and other labs so any Engineering major can enter them

Team Leaders

  • Lab Instructors
  • Department Heads
  • UIF Students
  • Students


  • Allow students to work in labs during business hours (8-5)
  • Look into getting off hours lab space for weeknights and weekends for students to get into the current lab

Tactic #4 Skill Accreditation

Description - There are hundreds of students on our campus that research and work on their own projects outside of the classroom. Although this is great for personal learning, this does not benefit the student when looking for a job or internship. The employer only sees what is on their resume or transcript. Maybe the student is an Industrial Engineer who is very skilled in machining. To a potential employer, they see that the student is an Industrial Engineer. There is no documented proof that this student is a skilled machinist. If a professor is willing to vouch for any student who, for example, is skilled in machining. Then the student should be giving the opportunity to prove to potential employers (on their transcript) that they are in fact skilled in machining.

Team Leaders: Kyle Stapleton, David Syverson


  • Find potential professors who are interested in giving the certificates.
  • Talk with the academic office to have the certificates put onto transcripts.
  • Tweak the accreditation program to suit the students.

Tactic #2 Collaborative Innovation Course (New Fall 2015)

One major Pitfall with North Dakota State University is the lack of cross discipline coursework. There are 0 programs that connect majors that will be dealing with each other every day in the professional world, this needs to be changed. Creating a course with an enrollment cap per section that does not discriminate on major, class or even prerequisites is the ideal way to do so. Having a course with a wide variety of majors and backgrounds that are required to unify and complete a task/solve a problem/ etc., can plant the seed of innovation and design thinking in every student. Instructors that have some background in innovation, would form the problem around the demographics in a way to open their minds and change it. 

As a student that needs a few credits to take care of an "Innovation Alliance 320" Course would be far more appealing than "Billiards 120"

4. Imagine the Future

Tactic #1 Critical Thinking Classes (Progressing)

Part #1: Hit the Ground Running- Student Driven Experience.

  • Description: The sooner students realize that the faster they can get involved with the campus, potential employers, real world work and experience the more excited they will be about taking the bull by the horns to steer their desires in whichever way they want them to go. Many students dreaded the way their high school educations were conducted. In high school lots of people say, "When am I ever going to use this stuff?" Now is time! Unfortunately, many freshman students have no clue what they want to do with their lives, and others just need to follow the directions to the map they have made in their heads (minority of students). The catering to these "undecided" students is essential to change the mindset of what it is to experience college. (Not just going to parties) The basis of this tactic is to empower students to actively seek hands on skills in their choosen career path. This maybe in the form of jobs, volunteering, clubs, and other outgoing groups.
  • Team Leaders: UNIV 189 professors? Dorm RAs? People responsible for scheduling motivational speakers (Specifically for college students)? I placed question marks behind each of these leaders because this is just what comes to mind of people who would be able to aid in this tactic. Possibly more.
  • Milestones:
    • Support from potential team leaders.
    • Actually getting students to go to speakers, be active in clubs, take internships, and learn what they want to learn outside of the traditional classroom.
    • Students pressure higher-ups of the university to cater to their educational wants.
    • University and individual colleges alter curriculums.
    • Entire college culture is changed from "Partying" to "Let's do something for ourselves along with the world".

Part #2Classroom Driven Experience (Science Student Perspective)

  • Description: Use critical thinking and problem solving educational tactics along with or after a traditional lecture class and lab is complete. Labs are where these problem solving strategies can be applied more. An additional lab course should be available that adheres to more of using what they learned in that lab and lecture in a more investigative/problem solving way. This critical thinking experience would come after the student has complete the previous course. The class would be structured around what I would say as mini-research experiments. The students would use previous knowledge to help guide themselves into theories and hypothesis of what they believe could be the answer to whatever they are working on. Then they would carry out experiments to tests these ideas. -A very rough outline on how the class would be structured.
  • Team Leaders: Jordan Brummond, "I have heard rumors of similar sounding classes that will be starting up soon in my department by - Janice Haggart. I also believe Dr. Angela Hodgson is in her second year of a similar class."
  • Milestones:
    • Curriculum Assessments.
    • Find evidence that students who take this class are more successful academically/professionally and provide it to the masses- Brings hype to the class.
    • Integrate into regular curriculum.
    • Faculty support from multiple departments.
    • Development of similar courses in other departments.

Part #3: Mentor Driven Experience

  • Description: Having outside entrepreneurs, businesses, or research professors "take in" students as mentees/apprentices/interns. A good comparison would be like a "Big Brother, Big Sister" for students with drive and passion to get right out into the real world while they work on their degrees.
  • Team Leaders: TBD
  • Milestones:
    • Small number of mentors ready to pave the way.
    • Incorporate into already existing career fair.
    • More mentors view it as a recruitment tool to attract the best and brightest students.
    • "Career fair" specifically as the recruitment tool.
    • Students rewarded for their work other than the experience.
    • Success stories as a recruitment tool for both students and new mentors
    • Explore opportunities for an internship to be implemented into the curriculum. Possibly meet once a week with other students who have similar internships

Tactic #2 Furthering I&E

Further strategies for future development of I&E on NDSU campus include:

Acquire an Innovation Space (Progressing)

Providing students with a place 'with a sign on the door' designating it as purely a space for students to meet and hang out with innovative and entrepreneurial interests in mind will encourage and nourish the formation of ideas and student innovation teams/entrepreneurs, in no particular order. As rules can have a tendency to stifle innovation, the objective is to keep this space as free and open as possible, accessible to all majors and during as much of the day as is feasible.

While a room with a whiteboard is enough to get us started, I would like to expand upon that as much as possible. I'm considering this a separate tactic as it involves going through different channels and asking for entirely different things from different people. The goal here is to network with as many higher-ups who support the movement as possible (many of whom have already been interviewed for the landscape canvas) and see what kind of extra equipment their department might be willing to lend. We're talking computers, Arduinos, soldering irons, scrap metal, hot glue guns.... anything not 'required' to run the I-space but would still contribute to its usefulness. More importantly, anything not nailed down! People resources are going in this tactic as well. The I-space will require a semi-regular pool of mentors, be they faculty, community leaders, or just motivate volunteers. The purpose of this group will be to offer more everyday advice and counsel than bringing in a speaker or holding an event.

Provide Legal and Financial Assistant to I&E Teams (Progressing)

The author requests that you note the use of 'management' vs. 'protection.' Currently, there is little understanding amongst students that work they do that utilizes 'significant university resources' qualifies as university property. The native stance of the IP management system here is to protect all IP generated, not to manage and distribute it. We hope that, by working with the Tech Transfer Office and university higher-ups, a more transparent system can be developed... one that can be explained to students quickly and efficiently. Most importantly, the delivery system for getting the knowledge to students has to be structured in such a manner that it doesn't scare them off!  Barring the ability to get the TTO more involved in proactively assisting with student IP, we at least hope to provide students with a seminar, guide, etc... on what exactly the relationship between them, their work, and the university actually is.With this tactic, we're going to work closely with the NDSU research park and Tech Transfer Office to establish as best we can a formal step-by-step process for entreprenuers looking to start a business and/or license their own IP back from the university. Note that the point here is not to constrain but to assist. The purpose of the formal system is to allow rails for the students to follow along their journey- right now there is nothing in place to assist students in the early or middle stages of planning, for example. Late stage business-founding can be handled by the Research Incubator... but how do you know to contact them? That is precisely what we are going to fix. At the very least, this tactic will produce a flow chart of steps, people, andprocesses that have been succesful in the past for starting businesses at NDSU.

Tactic #3 Drone Focus (Discontinued Fall 2017)

  • Description: DroneFocus is an annual event that brings together leaders in the drone industry from all acorss the country for an all-day conference. A recap of of last year's (2015) event is available at North Dakota is home to one of the leading Unmanned Arial System (UAS) hotspots in the nation. With industry leaders such as Botlink ( and facilities such as the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (, North Dakota holds the resources, technologies, and networking opportunity to experience the regional and national state of the UAS atmosphere. Guest speakers, pitch events, and networking opportunities will be just a few of the events available to attendees.
  • While the DroneFocus competition was a mild success in 2016 with 8 teams competing, there was not enough interest to continue the competition for 2017. There are still many drone teams in the area, however, they were not willing to compete with their design for some reason. There are still monthly UAS meetings held by Emerging Prairie in downtown Fargo, which are attended by approximately 30-40 people per event. NDSU attempted to host a separate drone competition, which actually yielded some success. Investigations are currently underway to determine how to grow this competition in terms of both size and scope.

Tactic #4 In House Entrepeneurship Program (New Fall 2015)

NDSU Currently offers a Certificate of Entrepeneurship as part of a collabrative program with the University of North Dakota. This program, although very beneficial, has seen very little student enrollment, primarly due to a lack of advertising and confusion coming from the partnership with UND. NDSU must work to establish its own, in house, entrepeneurship program. This will have an enourmus effect on the level of entrepeneurship on campus and when partnered with existing resources on campus, will have a massive impact.


I-CORP is a student organization that is set up to help students who are at a mid-level of entrepreneurship activities. The students who are at a crossroads of innovation meeting entrepreneurship and are looking to get their ideas out and recognized in a company aspect but are unsure where to start. Such topics covered will be speakers from outside companies, classes on legal and financial aspects of starting up a business. Additionally there will be networking to encourage students to converse with one another. This is to inspire help become entrepreneurial.

Tactic #1 I&E Whitepages (Progressing)

There is a large number of organizations on and off campus that are beneficial to innovation and entrepreneurship. NDSU overhauled its organization database recently but it is not all-inclusive and the search button does not work like it should. The other issue is that it does not tie into the community. The Fargo/Moorhead area has a strong I&E culture but there is no easy way for students to search and see what is available. 

Goal- Create a wiki-based White Page style repository of all innovative and entrepreneurial events on campus and in the community.

Method- Create a wiki page for the university organizations

Method- Compile a list of current on campus activities and allow students to add or edit activities as needed.

Related Links

North Dakota State University

University Innovation Fellows

Fall 2017:

Ted Zipoy

Jackson Gleason

Timothy Straus

Fall 2016:

Samantha Schultz

David Syverson

Spring 2016:

Denielle Danielson

Benjamin Ferguson

Kyle Stapleton

Fall 2015:

Diedrich Harms

Robert Kringler

Fall 2014:

Jordan Brummond

Jacob Larson

Drew Spooner

Fall 2013:

Andrew Dalman