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State selected for Pathways to Innovation Program

Epicenter logo

South Dakota State University has been selected to participate in the upcoming Pathways to Innovation Program, a program run by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation, or Epicenter. The program, which is designed to help institutions fully incorporate innovation and entrepreneurship into undergraduate engineering education, is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are high priorities for the Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering. The opportunity for our students to partner with their contemporaries in peer/prestigious schools like James Madison University, Case Western University and Temple University can only strengthen these qualities in our undergraduates,” said Dean Lew Brown, noting South Dakota State joins 13 others in the third cohort of the two-year program. “We feel very fortunate to have been selected. I know that the cross-disciplinary team-building and communication skills required with the Epicenter will enhance the strong technical skills our students already gain.”

Thirty-six U.S. schools are currently participating in the program. Their projects include innovation certificates and majors, flexible learning spaces, first-year and capstone courses, faculty fellows programs, and innovation centers. Several cross-institutional collaborations have resulted from the first group of schools and participants are able to connect regularly to share best practices and resources.

“Today, engineering and computer science students are expected to enter industry with technical knowledge as well as a diverse set of mindsets, skillsets and attitudes that help them innovate, collaborate and create value,” said Tom Byers, director and co-principal investigator of Epicenter and professor at Stanford University. “As educators, we need to better prepare this generation of students for the workforce, position them for success in their careers, and give them more opportunities to bring their innovative ideas to life.”

The Pathways to Innovation Program is designed to help institutions fully incorporate innovation and entrepreneurship into undergraduate engineering education. Participating schools assemble a team of faculty and academic leaders to assess their institution’s current offerings, design a unique strategy for change, and lead their peers in a transformation process. Program teams receive access to models for integrating entrepreneurship into engineering curriculum, custom online resources, guidance from a community of engineering and entrepreneurship faculty, and membership in a national network of schools with similar goals.

Epicenter’s mission is to empower U.S. undergraduate engineering students to bring their ideas to life for the benefit of our economy and society. To do this, Epicenter helps students combine their technical skills, their ability to develop innovative technologies that solve important problems, and an entrepreneurial mindset and skillset. Epicenter’s three core initiatives are:

  • The University Innovation Fellows program for undergraduate engineering students and their peers;
  • The Pathways to Innovation Program for institutional teams of faculty and university leaders; and
  • The research program Fostering Innovative Generations Studies, which contributes to national knowledge of entrepreneurship and engineering education.