GVSU Students participate in Silicon Valley Event.

(Photo courtesy of Joe VanderBroek)

Design Thinking, Innovation, Entrepreneurship — all buzz words until action is truly taken, and action was taken by the University Innovation Fellows team at Grand Valley State University just before Thanksgiving break. Four GVSU students, Ben Parsell (Information Systems), Nikhil Watsa (Physics), Joe VanderBroek (Electrical Engineering), and Allison Rogutich (Computer Engineering), traveled to Palo Alto, California over an extended weekend to participate in the University Innovation Fellows Silicon Valley Meetup: a 3-day workshop bringing around 300-400 students through a variety of hands-on activities to unleash their creative confidence —a skill that is becoming more desired by large-scale tech giants that creates well-rounded employees.

The Fellows team spent a full day at the Google Headquarters in Mountain View, where they went through a variety of creative exercises, and heard a keynote presentation from Ray Kurzweil, a Futurist and an employee at Google, Inc. who was personally hired directly by Larry Page to work on machine learning and artificial intelligence projects.

Students participate in event in silicon valley pose on Google's campus.

The GVSU team visits Google’s Mountain View campus. (Photo courtesy of Joe VanderBroek)

Saturday involved spending the day on Stanford’s campus, with the majority of time spent at the d.school — a space for cross-pollination courses to take place which strives to set Stanford up for success with a differential experience. From improvisational dance to learning about the fully modular space at the d.school, fellows were brought out of their comfort zone and taught how to leverage that for innovation.

Sunday was a day of challenges and expert stories, where the Fellows heard from a Grammy award winning artist, Grace Weber, and the Chief Product Officer of Pandora, Christopher Phillips. Following that, students were broken into groups to take on one of four musically-centered design challenges presented by organizations such as Pandora, the Common Wealth foundation, and the Music Lab. The fellows also heard from a computer scientist, Ge Wang, who cofounded the Smule corporation, a company developing popular musical applications for mobile devices.

Students participate in event in silicon valley pose on Stanford's campus.

The GVSU team visits Stanford’s campus in Pal Alto. (Photo courtesy of Joe VanderBroek)

The Fellows leadership team here at GVSU bring back an incredible energy to continue to create change on campus, and to inspire other students to find passion in extra-curricular skills such as design thinking, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The Fellows team at GVSU is involved in a variety of different organizations and programs including the Design Thinking Academy, Student Senate, the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization, the PCEC STEPS camp, and West Michigan Design Week. The team will be actively working to use the skills developed in California to create new opportunities on campus for all students to develop their own creative confidence in an effort to spark innovation in their own lives and careers.

(Article submitted by Benjamin Parsell)