Fellow Since: Fall 2017
School: Louisiana Tech University
Current Work: Programs & Events Coordinator for the Ross Lynn Charitable Foundation & Co-owner of UpAhead Design
Ryan 'Stirling' Botts graduated from Louisiana Tech University (LaTech) in Ruston, Louisiana with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering.
While he was a student, Ryan started a service projects student organization called Operations Tech (OpTech) to bring together students from all disciplines with the intent to utilize Design Thinking through service projects to improve the campus. Ryan also championed and supported the Bulldog Entrepreneurs Club and the Science Technology Arts Engineering and Math Club (S.T.E.A.M). In addition to his engineering coursework, Ryan enrolled in both art and entrepreneurship courses when possible to place himself at an intersection of engineering, design, and business (as LaTech does not have a degree that lends that environment). During Senior year, Ryan was a member of a 5 person team that won first place in LaTech's TOP DOG New Venture Championship. The team, HemoCycle, developed a cost effective blood salvaging device for developing nations. Ryan's main impact as a University Innovation Fellow ended up being the introduction of the program to Louisiana Tech and it's continued presence after he graduated. Before graduating, he had worked on a few projects but unfortunately none of them came to fruition (yet). If you're curious as to how and why the projects didn't work, shoot him an email, he'd love to explain!
Since graduating, Ryan has remained in Ruston, Louisiana working with his business partner on a design company called UpAhead that they founded in 2018. The business primarily designs websites currently but is gradually shifting to products and business related ventures.
At the beginning of 2019, Ryan was hired as the Programs & Events Coordinator for the Ross Lynn Charitable Foundation (RLCF). RLCF is a North Louisiana nonprofit cultivating compassion in individuals, families, and communities. Their work focuses in the arts, outdoor adventure, and healthy living through a variety of programming and scholarships. Ryan is involved with around 85% of everything the foundation does with a handful of the programs directly under his charge. These include the North Louisiana Artist-in-Residence and the North Louisiana Chef-in-Residence, the Get Outdoors Program, the Cultivating Compassion Podcast, and a virtual writer's workshop.
Ryan's favorite program is currently the North Louisiana Artist-in-Residence. During the summer of 2019, Ryan was tasked with developing a new arts program for RLCF that would support artists but also serve the community as a whole. From this the North Louisiana Artist-in-Residence program was created which hosted two artists in 2019 and is currently supporting 19 artists virtually. Ryan designed the North Louisiana Residency to be thematic each year as well as flexible in location, moving around different parts of North Louisiana to impact a variety of communities over time. The core aspect of the residency is that at least one artist is offered the opportunity to spend between 2 week and a month in North Louisiana focusing on their craft while living and engaging with the immediate community around them. The intentions of the program are to support artists in furthering their work, enrich the local arts culture, and develop relationships between North Louisiana and wherever the artists are from.
Ryan has also done contract work for the Technology Business Development Center on Louisiana Tech's campus as a consultant as well as volunteered his time as a mentor for one of the 2020 TOP DOG New Venture Championship teams. For pleasure Ryan reads a good bit (currently reading The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, So Far from God by Ana Castillo, and The Writing Life by Annie Dillard), gardens (currently Okra), plays with his three legged dog Charlie, and is fixing up a house with the help from his parents.
He really enjoys helping others develop customer discovery questions (as well as working through the greater startup process), fleshing out potential pain points in new ideas and processes, and working through the Design Thinking method (which is kind of a given).
Other things to know about Ryan - Enneagram 5w4, Myers Briggs INTJ (but maybe not, need to retest), and loves the concept of rebirth through art (e.g. Kintsugi, found objects, refashioning).