Three LTU students named national University Innovation Fellows

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Three Lawrence Technological University students have been named among 169 University Innovation Fellows, a National Science Foundation project led by Stanford University’s design program.

The global UIF program trains student leaders to create new opportunities for their peers to engage with innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and creativity as part of their college experience.

The LTU students are Steven Graczyk of Troy, Ashley Jordan of Macomb Township, and Sarah Makki of Dearborn Heights. Graczyk is majoring in mechanical engineering with an additional Entrepreneurial Skills Certificate. Jordan is majoring in mechanical engineering, while Makki is majoring in robotics engineering. All are sophomores. They are LTU’s second cohort of Innovation Fellows.

Ashley Jordan
Ashley Jordan
Steven Graczyk
Steven Graczyk
Sarah Makki

University Innovation Fellows are a national community of students leading a movement to ensure that all students gain the necessary attitudes, skills and knowledge required to compete in the economy of the future. They create new opportunities that help their peers develop an entrepreneurial mindset, build creative confidence, seize opportunities, define problems and address global challenges.

As part of their acceptance into the program, the new LTU Fellows developed a plan to boost entrepreneurship and innovation education at Lawrence Tech and the community. The group’s plan includes entrepreneurship outreach to K-8 students through organizations like Girls Who Code and Girl Scouts, as well as through middle schools. They also propose an innovation and entrepreneurship summer camp at LTU for students from LTU and elsewhere, as well as creating a mobile “maker lab” for the LTU campus. Finally, they propose a year-long innovation speaker series at LTU.

The students said they were attracted to the program for the off-campus experiences it offers. “It’s an experience you couldn’t get in any classroom,” said Makki. Added Graczyk: “This (UIF) program teaches you many unconventional ways of thinking that I can apply both inside and outside the classroom.” Jordan said she said she liked how the program inspired students to put their ideas on innovation into practice.

The program was created by Stanford under a five-year National Science Foundation grant. It is managed by Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (

With the addition of the latest cohort, the program has now trained 776 students at 164 colleges and universities. UIF program leaders train candidate Fellows during an intensive six-week period to conduct in-depth analyses of their campus’ innovation status and provide them with tools and resources.

After training, the Fellows receive year-round mentorship, connect with one another online, and attend national conferences and events. In March 2017, Fellows have the opportunity to participate in the Silicon Valley Meetup, which brings together all Fellows trained in fall 2016 and spring 2017. During this gathering, Fellows will take part in workshops and exercises at Stanford, Google and other Silicon Valley organizations, with topics including movement building, innovation spaces, design of learning experiences, and new models for change in higher education.

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Lawrence Technological University,, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 100 universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

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