Priorities:University of Wisconsin - Madison Student Priorities

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University of Wisconsin - Madison is a large university, rich with resources for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. As University Innovation Fellows, we have noticed a few gaps on campus that we are excited to address through the following four strategic priorities:

  1. Strategic Priority 1: Develop communication between I&E resources on campus.
  2. Strategic Priority 2: Provide students with a general introduction to what design thinking is.
  3. Strategic Priority 3: Promote creative confidence within the student body.
  4. Strategic Priority 4: Provide students with knowledge about I&E resources on campus and make them feel comfortable utilizing them. 

Current Projects

1. I&E Campus Climate Reevaluation Survey

Description As a large institution, part of your findings is that there are plenty of resources within I&E spaces but the difficulty is access and exposure to these resources amongst the general student body. The I&E Campus climate will be an online survey (hosted via Qualtrics or google forms) that helps build data and insight regarding how students feel about I&E “buzzwords”, the institutions that host these resources, and how they see themselves as creative individuals. In addition, some interactive features such as a campus map plotting where students may tend to feel most creative, comfortable, or likely to go will help realize where resources are situated in relation to spaces where students can maximize their creative confidence and agency. 

  • Develop a clear understanding of what spaces are identified as safe or comfortable for students, as well as spaces that maximize creativity and inspiration. 
  • Understand general preconceptions regarding I&E buzzwords and terms. 
  • Bridging the I&E and general campus gap

  • General survey containing questions addressing the students thoughts on I&E resources and their accessibility, what I&E wordage resonates with them, how they assess their creative ability, etc.
  • Crowdsourced map of where students feel most creative

2. Escape Room Simulating Design Thinking Process

A design thinking simulation inspired by the escape room concept to be held during SOAR and welcome week. The team will be given a problem (TBD) to solve by working through the design thinking process. Students move through different rooms during the challenge so that each step of the design thinking process can be highlighted. The first room will help students empathize with the problem at hand. Clues will point them to different clues and eventually lead them to the next phase. There, they will be faced with defining the problem. Quickly, they will move to another room to ideate solutions to the problem. A certain number of solutions will be needed to pass to the next room. The final room holds space for prototyping and testing. Hidden in this room will be clues to find prototyping material. These materials will not be common and will emphasize quick and dirty prototyping approach. The team will escape when they test their prototype.

  • Address the gap we found in the small amount of design thinking education/exposure students get on campus vs. the large amount of product development opportunities there are on campus. 
  • Bring students together through a common experience
  • Introduce students early on in their academic career to design thinking. 

  • Simple and quick introduction to design thinking that people can relate to.
  • Fun and interactive experience.
  • Shows students that design thinking can be applied to all aspects of life. 
  • A real-world practice of the design thinking process - bringing hypothetical ideas to life.  

3. Campaign for Creative Confidence 

This is a campaign that begins at the start of every semester. To begin, there will be a large campaign to make students aware of our social media presence, Instagram . This will include being active at SOAR and other student centered events as well as giving out some merchandise and flyers that students could reference. The main purpose of the Instagram page is for students to submit their own or others creative works. These works should include class doodles, interesting course work, drawings from study notes, written works, graffiti on campus, food dishes, and more! The objective is to show different perspectives of creativity, not necessarily the skills behind it. Through showing diverse works, students will gain creative confidence by seeing that someone has liked their work, or someone has decided to post their it on social media. On top of student submitted work, there will also be general posts promoting positivity. Students of all disciplines are encouraged to send their post. Once students send in their first posts, they will receive a sticker that has the campaign name on it. 

To carry the campaign throughout the semester, there will be cork boards in every college in the building that are dedicated to the campaign. There will be a sign that has the campaign name on it and students are welcome to share their class doodles by physically posting them onto the boards. This will create a sense of community among the people in the building as well as instill confidence in the students who post because they’re able to share their work. 

  • Instill creative confidence in students of all disciplines 
  • Create a campaign to raise awareness
  • Get students to interact with the social media and school community cork boards
  • Have students understand that the skill set that they have does not correlate with their confidence in their creativity 

  • Instagram page and hashtag 
  • Stickers
  • Cork boards in every college

4. I&E Virtual/Walking Tour

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has a plethora of resources for innovation and entrepreneurship. However, these spaces are isolated and are perceived to only pertain to students who reside in each of these schools. To broaden awareness of I&E spaces and resources on campus, we plan to launch a virtual and walking campus tour that highlights all of these spaces. The virtual tool will highlight buildings based on the levels of the landscape canvas (discover, experiment, pursue, etc.) which students can click on to learn more about resources offered at each school. The walking tour will highlight our well-known campus resources (i.e. the Makerspace, Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship, etc.) while also showing universally used spaces like libraries and our unions.

  • Create a system of innovation and entrepreneurship that allows students to gain more awareness of the resources offered on campus.
  • Compare similarities and differences of these resources (what makes each unique).
  • Affirm that these spaces are accessible/useful to ALL students.
  • Online platform to learn more about I&E spaces/resources offered at each school on campus.
  • The approximately 75 minute tour will stop at Grainger Hall, Nancy Nicholas Hall and the College of Engineering, as well as the Student Activity Center and Memorial Union.
  • T-shirts are provided to walking tour participants. 

Past accomplishments

1. Little Free Library (Spring 2017)


Developed design session for Human Growth and Family Studies Graduate students focused on the design and rapid prototyping of a “Little Free Library”


  • Open people’s minds to how design thinking is useful, applicable in their areas
  • Create an exciting, novel “Little Free Library” design for OneCity schools in Madison, WI


  • Two hour design session culminating in the rapid prototyping of “Little Free Libraries”

2. Introduction to Engineering Design - Focus on Inclusion (Spring 2017)


Consulted with Engineering Design 170 on developing inclusive, creative collaboration among freshmen students (Spring 2018). These supplementary activities are still being used in this course.


  • Foster inclusion and psychological safety among students
  • Develop freshmen in ideation process, “yes, and…” mindset


  • Utilization of “stokes” (interactive activities) during lab sessions to promote excitement, participation, collaboration, depending on what is needed in the room
  • Use of “6 Hat Thinking” workshop and debrief to prompt self-reflection on collaborative processes and participation/contribution styles.

3. Student Organization - Focus on Design Process and Outreach


Having a student organization dedicated to teaching others how to apply and utilize the design thinking process will allow us to maximize our reach on campus. Ideally, this student organization will allow students of different academic levels and disciplines to see how design thinking can be beneficial to their world. In addition, it will aid us in maintaining communication with students, faculty, and staff about the work we are doing as Fellows on campus.
  • Promote the use of design thinking in more situations than product design
  • Provide a platform for students to learn techniques and skills useful in developing a mindset that is conducive to design thinking
  • Show students of all academic levels and disciplines why design thinking is something they should be interested in
  • Stanford design thinking methods, activities, and mindsets will allow students an opportunity to see how design thinking can be applied to their everyday lives
  • The ability for students to bring their own topics and ideas to weekly group meetings will allow students to feel empowered and connected to the idea of design thinking

4. Introduction to Engineering Design - Analysis of Impact

Collaborating with Introduction to Engineering Design 170 faculty in researching and publishing the impact of previous design thinking “interventions” on student sense of inclusion and project outcomes.
  • Develop a survey that will allow evaluation of the impact of “stokes” and “6 Hat Thinking” workshops on student experience of inclusion
  • Examine project outcomes of the Spring 2018 Engineering Design 170 students and compare to past students project outcomes
  • Publish findings in the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) journal
  • Utilize published work as a means to show others how and why design thinking can be impactful in their areas of work
  • Published article in the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) journal
  • Develop credibility of “stokes” and “6 Hat Thinking” as a way of promoting psychological safety between students and therefore improving project outcomes

5. Biomedical Engineering Partnership

Collaborating with the Biomedical Engineering faculty to foster design thinking mindsets (rapid prototyping/bias toward action, radical collaboration) in already existing Design coursework.
  • Develop students and faculty in rapid prototyping/bias towards action and radical collaboration mindsets
  • Establish rapid prototyping materials in Biomedical Design lab
  • Design sessions to introduce students to mindsets
  • Resource development for design advisors (faculty members)
  • Addition of materials to existing design lab space to encourage iterative design

Social Media

  • Twitter (@UWMadisonUIF)
  • Facebook (@UIFMadison)

Media Coverage

Related Links

Current Fellows

Nadia Tahir

Nzinga Acosta

Gwendolyn Schad

Joel Foster

Past Fellows (Spring 2017)

Camille Clark 

Hanna Barton

Rachel Acevedo

Tayler Nowak

Related links