Feb. 17, 2023, KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – Hallie Neupert, a Professor and Department Chair of Oregon Tech’s Management department, has been selected by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school) to participate in a two-year Faculty Innovation Fellows program.
The Fellows program selects less than 20 educators worldwide to participate in the experience. In this two-year program, faculty and staff work to design unique projects that enhance the innovation ecosystems at their schools and help students gain vital real-world skills and mindsets to increase campus engagement with innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity, and design thinking.
The first project Neupert is working on is “Connecting Our I&E Ecosystem Dots,” which she began in December. “Connecting Oregon Tech and the Klamath Falls innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) ecosystem is an important next step in developing a multi-year I&E student experience,” Neupert said. “Improved university-community partnerships heighten a culture of collaboration, support student innovation while creating value for our community, and increase students’ sense of belonging, all of which align with the goals of my department.”
The I&E ecosystem at Oregon Tech began with Catalyze Klamath, an innovation competition that Neupert has steered for 8 years. The ecosystem has since evolved and now includes relationships with the University Economic Development Association and the Lemelson Foundation, who supported the pilot of a daylong design thinking workshop called Ready, Set, Innovate! for high school, community college, and Oregon Tech students.
“Currently, a small group of volunteer faculty and community partners plan and execute Ready, Set, Innovate!, a first-year experience, and Catalyze Klamath, which is a capstone experience,” Neupert said. “Infrastructure, systems, and processes are needed to support and sustain these bookend experiences and to fill out Oregon Tech’s I&E portfolio. Initially, this could include formalizing management of Oregon Tech’s existing programs and developing systems and processes to strengthen connections between students and community organizations, establishing mechanisms to support collaboration and communication between Oregon Tech and its ecosystem partners. Ultimately, this project could link a proposed Regional Innovation Hub at Oregon Tech and Oregon Tech’s I&E student experiences.”
Participants in the Faculty Innovation Fellows also serve as Faculty Champions, which mentor students participating in the University Innovation Fellows program. Neupert championed for four Oregon Tech students to become part of the student fellows program in the fall: Molly Grace (sophomore, Marketing), Cody Kemble (senior, Operations Management), Jordan Spencer (junior, Cybersecurity), and Justin Thompson (junior, Accounting).
“For their University Innovation Fellows project, the students have founded a Business Innovation Club,” Neupert said. “The club’s purpose is to provide consulting-like services to other clubs and student projects on campus looking for business advice. For example, they currently mentor the RoboSub Club as they prepare for their national competition. I hope to identify resources and mechanisms to ensure all these experiences and community connections are supported, maintained, and sustained.”
Students in the University Innovation Fellows have completed their training, and along with Neupert, will travel to Stanford in March to connect and network with others in the program. To acknowledge the students’ accomplishments, Neupert hopes to organize a spring pinning ceremony.
“In addition to planning the pinning ceremony, Oregon Tech launched the next Catalyze Klamath competition in early February,” Neupert said. “We have 11 teams registered and are preparing for a Shark Tech pitch competition on March 1. Overall, we have a lot to look forward to, and I am excited that the Fellows program will help expand the success of Catalyze Klamath and Ready, Set, Innovate!”