Priorities:Florida International University Student Priorities

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Florida International University (FIU) is a public research institution in Florida. It currently has two campuses Modesto A. Maidique Campus (MMC) and the Biscayne Bay Campus (BBC). There is also the Engineering Center housing all the engineering majors. FIU represents the 4th largest public university by enrollment, were 54,000 students enrolled for the Spring 2014 semester. It is estimated that around 100,000 students will graduate from FIU in the next decade, bringing many benefits to the community around the university. There are a couple of facts worth noting about FIU:

  • Ranked #8 in international business program by The U.S News.
  • Ranked #24 in terms of engagement and contribution to the community by the Washington Monthly.
  • Handles the only underwater ocean laboratory in the world. 
  • FIU’s wall of wind is able to simulate a category 5 hurricane.

FIU is very well known for its business program. The business program offers many degrees, minors, and certification in different areas that deal directly with entrepreneurship and innovation along with management and business.

However, there is a huge gap between the classes that may teach entrepreneurship in the business program and the ones that may teach innovation and science in engineering. So work must be done to try to connect these two good programs. This gap mainly originates because the campuses are in separate places, and the information gets to the students through email which may not be so effective. Below is a list of priorities along with the different tactics that can be implemented to close the gap and improve entrepreneurship and innovation in our campus. 

A) Priority 1: Creating more conscience about Entrepreneurship & Innovation

  • Tactic 1: Focusing the message, Spring 16
  • Tactic 2: Create incentives for students, Fall 15
  • Tactic 3: Bringing the National Academy of Engineers (NAE) Grand challenge program to FIU, Summer 16
  • Tactic 4: Incorporating a entrepreneurship week, Spring 16
  • Tactic 5: Having the choice to switch one humanity requirement, Spring 17
  • Tactic 6: Uniting the Engineering Center with the MMC campus, Fall 17 or later

B) Priority 2: Creating spaces for Innovation

  • Tactic 1: Come up with a cool maker space (whiteboards, tables, chairs), Spring 17
  • Tactic 2: Make laboratories more accessible , Spring 16
  • Tactic 3: Create a design thinking lab, Spring 17

C) Priority 3:Create funding for undergraduate students

  • Tactic 1: Bring the Venturewell Student Grant program to FIU, Fall 15
  • Tactic 2: Increase tuition, 2016-2017 school year
  • Tactic 3: Annual Project Meet up, Spring 16
  • Tactic 4: Tapping into the federal funding, Fall 16
  • Tactic 5: Corporate Meet-up, Spring 2017

D) Priority 4: Create small changes the curriculum

  • Tactic 1: Create engineering-entrepreneurship classes, Spring 17
  • Tactic 2: Reduce the student to faculty ratio, Spring 16
  • Tactic 3: Reduction of Class sizes, Fall 17
  • Tactic 4: Creation of more TA sessions, increase operations, Summer 2015
  • Tactic 5: Emphasize more on Accomplishments, Fall 16
  • Tactic 6: Higher more advisors, Spring 16


Priority 1: Creating more conscience about Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Tactic 1: Focusing the message

There are many great guest/leadership speakers, and seminars being brought to FIU, yet I have never heard any of my classmates say “hey there is this great speaker coming, I am going to the event” The information about these speakers is sent through email, but students seem not to obtain it. This may be due to the fact that some students don’t really use the institution email or they have it set up as spam mail. The reason for this is that the university sends emails about numerous things, sometimes one may receive up to 15 emails per day. So creating some sort of filter in the mail so that it separates speaker events from other emails is needed, or creating other means of informing the students.


Deadline: Spring 2016

Tactic 2: Create incentives for students

The professors should take initiative in the movement of creating conscience, and give extra credit to students that attend the guest speaker events. Professors may choose which guest speaker might be beneficial to his or her class and let the students know about it. Or the professor should take at least 1 min of class to mention any important speaker that interest them. This will create incentive in the classes and spark interest


Date: effective immediately or Fall 2015

Tactic 3: Bringing the National Academy of Engineers (NAE) Grand challenge program to FIU

This program builds students into great innovators and entrepreneurs. Its main objective is to develop a nation-wide network of Grand Challenge Scholars. The best part about this program is that it is divided into five areas: research experience, interdisciplinary curriculum, entrepreneurship, global dimension, service learning. Each area has certain requirements that must be completed in order for the student to be named Grand Challenge Scholar. The requirements for successful completion of the five areas is solely determined by FIU.

Leader: Sami El Awad Azrak

Date: Summer 2016

Tactic 4: Incorporating a entrepreneurship week

All engineering students are required to take the Introduction to engineering course. This course touches on the general aspects of engineering. The proposal here is to incorporate within this course an entrepreneurship week. During that week students will learn about entrepreneurship and how beneficial it is for engineers. Some of the activities might include creating a draft of a business proposal to sell an imaginary novel project to the rest of the students in class. The best group will get extra credit aside from the set credit for the assignment.


Date: Spring 2016          

Tactic 5: Having the choice to switch one humanity requirement

Students will have the choice to switch one of the required humanity courses or an art course for an entrepreneurship course offered by the school of business. This could also serve to cover the global learning requirement. This will not change the way students may receive AP credits from high school as it will be an optional choice for incoming students (i.e. the AP will remain valid and cover the class).


Date: Fall 2016

Tactic 6: Uniting the Engineering Center with the MMC campus:

Currently FIU acquired the land space (86 acres or 348030m^2) that was used to hold the annual Miami Dade fair or “Youth Fair” every year. This means that FIU has the green light for expansion. This could represent the incorporation of the Engineering Center into the main campus (MMC). This will connect the campus hosting great business minds with the engineering center housing great engineering minds, fostering innovation and entrepreneurship almost immediately. Maybe use the current Engineering Center building and make many more labs, bring new equipment, and create more design spaces. However, this is a very big construction plan, so it will take time if this is the path FIU officials want to take.

Leader: (might be out of the students hands)

Deadline: 2017 or later


Priority 2: Creating spaces for Innovation

Tactic 1: Come up with a cool maker space (whiteboards, tables, chairs).

Here the students can forget about their class material for a bit and sit down with other students and all collaborate together in the projects they may have. Currently there is the panther pit, library or cubicles in the department, these places are mostly too populated so some students might be unwilling to work in these places


Date: Spring 2017

Tactic 2: Make laboratories more accessible  

Aside from the computer labs there are really no mechanical labs that students might use for their projects. If a senior students wants to use the 3D printing equipment he or she must be enrolled in a class or be working with a professor to have access. The proposal here is to make access to these types of lab less restrictive as to who may use the equipment. There will always be regulations regarding these as most of the equipment is expensive and delicate.


Date: Spring 2016

Tactic 3: Create a design thinking lab

This lab will be open to classes and students to use when they are working on a class or group project. This place might also be part of the “cool maker space” especially design for students.


Date: Spring 2017

Priority 3: Create funding for undergraduate students

Tactic 1:Inform about the Venturewell Student Grant program to FIU students

Since FIU is a member of VentureWell, all students can participate in this program. This program offers funding opportunities and training for students to move their ideas out of the classroom and into the market. A successful proposal touches on the aspects of: commercial potential, solutions to real-world problems, and its technical feasibility. This program is divided into three stages. Each proposal must go through the preceding stage to advance. Proposal might gain $5000 in stage 1, $20000 in stage two and $50000 in stage three.


Date: Already present, just needs more means to get to the students

Tactic 2: Increase tuition

All students must pay a parking, athletic, and health fees. The proposal here is to create another tab called “Innovation” or “Technology” Though this may sound insane from the student stand point, it is a good idea to collect funds. Our Engineering center seems to be missing more space and better labs. By increasing the tuition of the students enrolled by $5.00 there could be close to $250,000 each semester which will be divided into different engineering majors. But the key here is not for the university to stay with the money, but to hear what students need in the labs or in the classes. The money could be placed in some kind of account to then be used when students need to build prototypes, specially their senior project. Of course students must demonstrate need for the money and obtain the professor’s approval and abide to regulations (i.e. $500 per senior group). Yet, the benefits will greatly outnumber the regulations students must go through.


Date: 2016-2017 school year.         

Tactic 3: Annual Project Meet up

The proposed plan here is to have some sort of yearly meeting with people or corporate representatives that might collaborate with funding. In this meeting the people will be able to see some of the projects FIU students have completed or are currently working on. This way projects might receive funding directly. Even senior students could participate and collect funds for prototyping their project.


Date: Spring 2016       

Tactic 4: Tapping into the federal funding.

There is currently no way of getting undergraduate funding for a project with FIU directly. Students resort to faculty to accept the project and they can then help find funding. There are many federal agencies that offer funding or opportunities to help undergraduate students. Yet, students find it difficult to go around asking the federal agencies for funding. The proposed plan here is to create an office that deals directly with these federal agencies, sort of like a mediator, which can help students get the funding they need or direct them to the right agency and advise them.  


Deadline: Fall 2016

Tactic 5: Corporate meet-up

The proposed plan here is to bring once a year corporations/representatives to the engineering campus. The companies that participate will have a specific project they want students to work on. The students will have a freedom to choose one project and work on a proposal. The company can then review and accept the ideas they think are the best and communicate back with the students to start working on the design and prototype. This way students engage with the real market and may also get funding for their future projects.


Date: Spring 2017

Priority 4: Create small changes the curriculum

The task of changing how the university currently operates in regards to classes and courses is very challenging. Here are some of the tactics that could make this task possible in the future. Yet, FIU doesn’t need a drastic change in the entire system, only subtle changes in specific areas.

Tactic 1: Create engineering-entrepreneurship classes

Currently there are no classes that merge engineering with innovation or entrepreneurship, there are only senior design engineering courses or entrepreneurship courses offered mainly to get a certificate in entrepreneurship in the School of Business. The problem is that these courses are 4000 level courses and are not available or not recommended for freshmen or sophomores to take. The proposed plan here is to create classes that grab the student’s attention from the early years, because this might be the best way to merge engineering with some entrepreneurship.


Deadline: Spring 2017

Tactic 2: Reduce the student to faculty ratio

FIU’s student to faculty ratio is 27:1, yet it seems that in engineering the students greatly outnumber the faculty by far more than this ratio. Normally, the classes are of 60-80 students, even senior level courses. The bold proposition here is to hire more faculty in several different areas to cover the growing number of students. This is not a task meant to be done by the students, therefore the people in charge in FIU should prioritize this over any other spending. This will not only solve the number problem, but will create experiences and possibilities for the students. They will gain that extra dimension, students will innovate and get inspired for the work they are doing along with the professors.


Date: Spring 2016           

Tactic 3: Reduction of Class sizes

This is a problem that currently affects higher learning institutions. The idea behind it is to maximize profit and use the space wisely. This is a different problem from the student to faculty ratio, therefore it requires a different solution. The proposal here is not to build smaller classrooms, but to section an auditorium size class into several groups (A, B, C…). Each group will be assigned a different professor or TA so that students can work in smaller, yet productive batches. This might also fix the “one size fits all” problem, because students will experience the two environments (big class room and small groups).


Date: Fall 2017

Tactic 4: Creation of more TA sessions

The plan is not to only cover several engineering classes like circuits, or dynamics, but to cover all the courses and have people always ready to help. There doesn’t have to be a person waiting all day for someone to come. The TA may be called on a needs basis, so students can go online set up an appointment with the TA and meet at the place and time they want. This service should continue to be free as it currently operates.


Date: Continue and increase operations Spring 2015.        

Tactic 5: Emphasize more on Accomplishments

Almost all universities including FIU have requirements for admission either be SAT, ACT, GPA, etc... Aside from this it would be a good idea to incorporate emphasis on the accomplishments the high school students may have. There should also be some sort of folder the students could bring and show some of his or her projects completed during high school. This way new freshmen students see that it is worth putting extra effort in high school projects and not only in scoring in the SAT. This incubates innovation and entrepreneurship in one of the earliest stage.


Date: Fall 2016         

Tactic 6: Higher more advisors

Have a group of students or advisors ready to help students especially in peak times (enrollment dates and drop deadlines). They will help the students decide what they will do in the next semester. This doesn’t necessarily instill entrepreneurship in the students, but it gives them time to set up their best path for the semester. Later, if students are placed correctly in the courses it alleviates further loss of time in the semester for everyone.


Date: Spring 2016

Reference Links

Florida International University

Sami El Awad =

Project Pitch, Sami El Awad 

Landscape Canvas =

Business Model Canvas =

Related links