Priorities:University of North Dakota Strategic Priorities

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Project Pitch Video

Spring 2016

Fall 2015

Strategic Priority No.1: Initiating Outreach

Initiating Outreach between the students and faculty on the local and regional communities can highlight the prioritization in three different areas of analysis: entrepreneur education and creativity, engineering education and design thinking, and finally development experiential learning. An actionable agenda will be provided for a simplified overview and implementation.

Student Entrepreneurship Society

Develop a group of students interested in Innovation and Entrepreneurship who meet up across campus to discuss ideas, meet with entrepreneurs and attends events around innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Engaging in Entrepreneurship Education

Working on building our creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship is priority number one, however we could facilitate interest among k-12 students as well. This would be a draw for the University with us being the only university with a school of Entrepreneurship in the region, but more importantly instill beneficial skills in the youth of our region.

Helping our startup community

Working with startups on select projects locally would provide beneficial learning opportunities for the students, while being a boon to startups in the region. We believe a diverse group of students (ie. Engineers, entrepreneurs, graphic designers, etc.) would benefit from this real world experience. Also, the students will be able to get a feel for startups as a potential career path after school.

Strategic Action Agenda No. 1

·         Grassroots campaign to build a network of students interested in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, regardless of major.

·         Hold first meeting to outline priorities, brainstorm vision for organization

·         Target students while they are Freshman and Sophomore level standing

·         Bring in a collection of mentors and speakers to educate, motivate and guide our group on future projects.  

Engaging in Entrepreneur Education

Working with students in K-12 education as a platform for entrepreneurship can bring major results and ideation into the classroom. By creating and entrepreneur outreach program, college students can aim to educate the younger generations about entrepreneur studies. With the prioritization of creativity in entrepreneurship with the understanding of business skills and strategies, an increase in entrepreneurial activity will occur and benefit community constituents.

Engineering Education and Design Thinking

With many technological disruptors in today’s society, it is clearly seen that the aims of engineering and the possibilities have grown (and will continue to grow) exponentially. The more fluid this technology gets, the easier it is to integrate said technologies in younger demographics. New technology, along with essential engineering concepts can both aid and contribute to the design thinking process of a child’s life. By increasing the design thinking process, there can be deeper growth, passion, and understanding for the sciences that are leading our world into the future.

Development of Experiential learning

The development of hands-on learning has been a main driver for change within the last decade. Educators and students are feeling the effects of experiential learning in many capacities. By taking the creativity and process function from entrepreneurship and the design thinking concepts in engineering, it is only logical to find the best possible solution to implement change that transforms into something dually viable and beneficial to an outreach program.

Strategic Action Agenda No.1:

·         Build a combined team of education students, entrepreneur students and engineering students to preform K-12 outreach

·         Receive assistance from university faculty in the educational, entrepreneurial and engineering concepts that can be communicated to students in K-12 Education

·         Host or facilitate community seminars of experiential learning and highlight the constituents affected, areas served and success stories

·         Develop skills in the university students and the K-12 students

·         Establish a mindset that this university is a friendly and inviting atmosphere for incoming students


Strategic Priority No.2: Develop Talent

Developing the talent that UND students possess must be prioritized by faculty in order for a student to grow academically.  There are three main areas where the development of talent can blossom into experiences that shape a student’s ability to take on new challenges: looking at resources at the university, improving the development culture and building a sustainable process to support development.

Grand Challenge Program

The University of North Dakota College of Engineering and Mines (CEM) is among more than 120 US Engineering colleges to have committed to the Grand Challenge Scholars Program. Our task is lay the groundwork from a student and faculty perspective to this program designed to broaden Engineer’s academic and practical experience beyond the traditional engineering education.

Resources at UND

We will be working with the Jodsaas Center, which is designed to further Engineering leadership and Entrepreneurship by providing students opportunities within business, entrepreneurship and leadership. We will combining this with the opportunities already available through the Center for Innovation, and our Student Entreprenuership Club to leverage this opportunity for the benefit of the students.

Peer to Peer Networking and Learning

We have noticed that with the Engineering program housed in their own building, students within that program are not engaging with students within the Entrepreneurship, Business and Liberal Arts programs. Our goal will be to use this as a starting point to engage all of the students, and get creativity and innovation flowing across campus.

Building a Sustainable Program

                We are looking to build off of 1 Grand Challenge event regarding interviewing skills, to build a set up 6-8 sessions during the 2016-2017 academic year. If we can build a beneficial program designed for students, we believe we can sustain the program for years to come.

Strategic Action Agenda No. 2:

·         Recruit a group of 15-30 students who are interested in improving their interviewing skills

·         Bring in outside speakers who are experienced with this topic

·         Provide a half-day experiential learning opportunity for the students with a mix of lecture and practice.

·         Report results back to the CEM to show progress, with a plan for future series of events next academic year. 

Resources available at UND

There are so many resources that are available at UND that students can use to find ways to improve their talents in many different fields of study. From the UND Career Center, to the Pancratz Career Center in the College of Business, or even looking to the resources in the various departments on campus. The opportunities are out there. Referring students to capitalize on these opportunities can be the main factor in developing talent.

Looking to Improve the Development Culture

Understanding what qualifies as an acceptable failure needs to be clarified and explored. By incorporating stretch assignments, prototyping, ideation sessions, and brain storming, students can seek out challenges where they can develop without feeling that their mistakes will set them. When realizing that success can grow from failure, students develop a better understanding the challenging processes that occur in our competitive economy.

Building a Sustainable Process to Support Development

Building sustainable processes to support development indicates that project managers should be expected to coach and develop their people. At a minimum, everyone would know what areas they need to improve, and for those with particularly high potential, constructing extra student centered tracks that can be developed. This gives students a sense of where they can go inside the organization. Having a system in place for the potential of the student to be realized is the path to unlocking that potential.

Strategic Action Agenda No.2:

·         Build a system where students can have access to opportunities more readily

·         Provide education about how great triumphs come out of failure

·         Create a maker space for those who want to conduct inventive or innovative ideas, regardless of restrictions

·         Develop an understanding that it takes multiple different experience to make a student well rounded and that those students who do pursue those opportunities are more desirable in the job market.


Strategic Priority No. 3 Build Partnerships

The facilitation of networking in a local and regional venue can lead to relationships that can result in tangible change within an area. There are 4 main areas of analysis that can improve networking at UND. This includes the development of strong interpersonal communications and curating the right mix of people, constructing the experience and lasting value, having the shared vision and value as the common goal.  

Faculty Awareness

Improve the awareness of faculty towards innovation and entrepreneur programs that are being done campus wide.

Student Awareness

We have two approaches to reach students across campus about the current programs on campus, and ones that we are envisioning. The first is to go directly to the students, as students to build a group of like-minded individuals. The second, will be to have the faculty help push our programs within the colleges, and classrooms. 

Development of Strong Interpersonal Communications and Curating the Right Mix of People

Interpersonal skills are the life skills we use every day to communicate and interact with other people, both individually and in groups.  People who have worked on developing strong interpersonal skills are usually more successful in both their professional and personal lives. Employers often seek to hire staff with strong interpersonal skills - they want people who will work well in a team and be able to communicate effectively with colleagues, customers and clients. Curating the right types of people to come to your event, from partners to sponsors to collaborators, to create a great event experience for your attendees to network within. With students coming in contact with various leaders in the community, they will be able to see it as valuable to their personal lives as well. The right mix of people in the right room can feed off of each other’s positive energy.

3.2 Constructing the Experience and Creating Lasting Value

Creating an experience in which co-working on a project is involved is almost always the best way forward. There are some entrepreneurs who openly discuss market applicable ideas and have no apprehensions about doing so. These entrepreneurs know that they are only one person, and the reach and leadership of one person can only go so far in any capacity. Understanding that idea shouldn’t be prioritized, but that the experience creates lasting value and applicable knowledge for their daily life is paramount.

 Shared vision and values

It's important that partners aren't too different when it comes to goals. So that the building partnerships becomes a smooth process that the most amount of constitutes can benefit. With shared partnerships comes shared resources and support. By arriving toward a consensus in the direction in which you are going shows that students from multiple disciplines can come together on issues to solve the problem.

Strategic Action Agenda No.3:

·         Increase the networking promotion opportunities on campus

·         Recruit and provide incentives for students engage in invention and innovation

·         Prioritize team work through cross collegiate partnerships

·         Involve faculty in the partnership process

·         Creating hybrid degree programs that combine multiple talents into a single, less restrictive program.

Student Priority No.4 Establish ventures

Establishing ventures is not necessarily the normal action starting a business and operating for profit. The term venture also can refer to concepts in social entrepreneurship, with collaborative ideation at the forefront. There are two main implications for establishing ventures. First is embracing the alternative though process and finally, leveraging problems as opportunities.

Create an Advanced Venture Lab

Establish working Venture Lab, modeled after the startup sauna at Aaltoes University, where students can meet, envision and prototype new ventures.

Faculty/Student Engagement

We believe a state-of-the-art facility on campus where students can meet, network and develop projects free from the University IP confines will be beneficial for all stakeholders involved. We had two members of our faculty (Dr. Tim O’Keefe and Dr. William Paulin), visit Aaltoes University this year and believe we can model their institution at the University of North Dakota. It will be important to get faculty engagement in the Venture Lab in order for it to reach its full potential.

Leveraging Other Initiatives

We can use the Student Entrepreneur Club and the Grand Challenge Initiative to drive interest in the Venture Lab. In addition, the combination of the Jodsaas Center, Dakota Venture Group and the Center for Innovation can help create an ecosystem that fits the needs of a Venture Lab. 

Strategic Action Agenda No. 4:

·         Send 2-4 students to Aaltoes University over the summer to share ideas, and learn from each other

·         Build a mobile venture lab within the Jodsaas Center to gain insight and interest into the Advanced Venture Lab

·         Gather funding and determine site for the lab 

Thought Processes

Changing the paradigm from problem-centric thought is essential to accessing innovative concepts. Problem-centric thought means that we tend to recognize the problems in a situation first. When faced with good and bad aspects of a situation, the bad aspects stand out, while the good are harder to identify. And when it comes to leadership, this norm can be devastating to a team’s productivity.

Leveraging Problems as Opportunities

By leveraging society’s problems and turning them into a beneficial medium, people are able to combine the aforementioned concepts of outreach, talent, and partnerships to create lasting change within a society. Although this seems like a relatively simple concept: when a person combines the talents of many different disciplines and those actions are combined together, there is a high degree of advocacy, communication, values and culture shifts that modify the paradigm of issues on campus and abroad.

Strategic Action Agenda No.4:

·         Build teams of students to solve worldly problems

·         Seek grant and scholarship funding for those devoting their time to these efforts

·         Promote the talented student at the university further on a local, national and global level

·         Craft curriculum that makes graduating with a combined degree in different fields more possible for multiple students

Student Priority No. 5 Enable Students

Many students do not believe their voice makes a difference. They feel powerless and unable to create change and they think they lack the experience necessary to take on positions of leadership, which ultimately causes them lose their drive and confidence to work towards their ambitions. The current education system fails to address this issue. Discoveries through communication with faculty and administration show that the University’s overall perception of students is not in harmony with the ideals they convey. UND’s mission is to encourage students to be intellectually curious and creative while preparing the next generation of leaders. However, they also hold the perception that students are immature, incapable, and only here to acquire a degree.

Provide the Environment & Trust to Grow

To foster innovation and entrepreneurship, the environment must be changed to flourish creativity.

Faculty and Student Collaboration

In late 2015 and early 2016, the University of North Dakota has faced several budget cuts that has led to removal of programs and elimination of positions. Faculty feel overwhelmed in their work and lack the time to experiment, prioritize research, and collectively create. However, the University of North Dakota has many incredibly talented students that can help alleviate some of their stress, but they must be given trust to take intiative. Examples of such duties include, but are not limited to, students being responsible for the social media platforms of departments and programs, students creating interdisciplinary events through their program to raise awareness and potentially recruit, and students providing their perspective on challenges and solutions to the leadership of departments and administration.

Enabling Students by Giving Trust

Dedicated Individuals Bettering Society (DIBS) collaborates with faculty of the School of Entrepreneurship on a Communication- and Enrollment Plan to better communicate the brand of the School of Entrepreneurship and recruit students. Their collaboration has been well received and has already produced results. As the initiative grows it should branch into new departments to help its faculty and staff as well as enabling students to step up into positions that require leadership and creative thinking. 

Strategic Action Agenda No. 5:

·         Recruit students to join Dedicated Individuals Bettering Society (DIBS)

·         Propose the collaborative initiative to other departments to assist the faculty as well as providing students the experience

·         Host a student-led forum for all students, faculty, staff, and administration to voice their current concerns at the University of North Dakota

·         Research other University Innovation Fellow initiatives and learn from them

Related Links

University of North Dakota

University of North Dakota Student Priorities

University of North Dakota Landscape Canvas

University Innovation Fellows

Fall 2016:

Atle Alexander Berglie Johansen

Brian Porter

Jonathan Puhl

Spring 2016:

Daniel Daffinrud

Emily O'Brien

Fall 2015:

Benjamin Olson