University Innovation Fellows Hold First Successful Epicenter “Pop-Up” Class$date.toUpperCase()
by junior Abigail Helfrich
On March 31, Western New England University’s Epicenter Innovation Fellows held their first pop-up class in Sleith Lab 302, focused around proper use of lab equipment for engineering projects. The student Innovation Fellows program aims to help students combine innovative and entrepreneurial thinking and skills, so they can create lasting change on campus that benefits all of society. Funding for the student Fellow programs is provided through generous grants from the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN).
One way the Fellows accomplish their mission is by hosting unscheduled “pop-up” classes, which are classes organized by the taught by the Fellows, and held outside of the University’s formal curriculum.
Pop-up class topics and teaching technique vary by university and this one featured practical equipment operation with a hands-on technique taught by Fellows Benjamin Kennedy, Kathryn Jordan, and Jonathan Young. It also gave the Fellows an opportunity to encourage younger students to apply to the Innovation Fellows program.
“I want to get involved because I think it’s a great opportunity. Not only did I learn more about University Innovation Fellows, but I also learned how to use tools in the freshman lab that I will need in the future,” freshman Civil Engineering major Caroline Best said.
“These skills, like soldering, using the dremel and drills, and a few other skills, aren’t always taught in the classroom, so we wanted to give students the opportunity to learn how to confidently use the equipment,” Fellow Kathryn Jordan says of their purpose. The six students who attended the class will be able to use the skills they learned on future engineering projects.
Biomedical Engineering Professor Rob Gettens explained. "As our faculty continue to take positive steps in teaching innovation in the classroom, and through our partnership and efforts with the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN), having this simultaneous student-driven effort through the Fellows program will have a powerful synergistic effect.”