The Student Innovation Fellows reflect on their trip to Stanford University’s Design School

EUR’s first cohort of students to be part of the University Innovation Fellows (UIF) programme have returned from their visit and training to Stanford University’s School of Design. They followed a three-day program which included workshops and events by the UIF coordinators and Stanford professors, researchers and alumni. Below, they reflect on their experiences and what they took away from this trip to continue developing EUR’s education and innovation landscape.

Who are the Student Innovation Fellows and what is UIF?

Anisha de Vries, Nick Tennekes, and Teodora Comanescu, are the three students that make up EUR’s very first cohort of University Innovation Fellows. The UIF program was started by the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design of Stanford University. The program aims to provide university students with the tools to become changemakers in higher education. Through an intensive 6-week design thinking training, students are set up for a year-long fellowship in which they aim to develop the education and innovation landscape of their university. Anisha, Nick and Teodora also got a chance to attend the yearly Silicon Valley Meetup (SVM) at Stanford University, at which they met fellow UIF members from around the world and participate in 3 days of talks, workshops and activities.

What stood out?

For each student, the diversity of the trip had the most impact on them. Anisha explains, “What particularly stood out to me during our time at Stanford University is the feeling of community that was put forward by UIF. People from all over the world came in to meet at Stanford and none of us had met people outside of their school’s cohorts yet. Still, from the first morning we came in I already felt right at home and everyone was genuinely interested in getting to know each other. It was great!”

Nick agrees, saying, “We met people from almost every continent with different cultural backgrounds, study backgrounds and from different study phases. It was very interesting to learn more about their perspectives on education (innovation) and to share knowledge about this topic. “

Workshops: from the metaverse to designing

During the three days, each student participated in a range of workshops, which all approached different subjects. When asked about her favourite, Teodora mentions, “My favourite workshop was the tour that we received of the Product Realisation Labs. I think I enjoyed this one most as we got to explore two spaces on the Stanford campus, both labs which are accessible to all students that want to create and prototype. From drilling and welding machinery to laser cutters and 3D printers, it was very stimulating to see all of the tools that could be used by students.”

For Anisha, her favourite workshop was called ‘Designing for Belonging’. “Belonging is a feeling and we can’t design feelings”, Anisha explains. “However, we can design all kinds of things that might allow the feeling of belonging to emerge. In the workshop, we explored the feeling of belonging, we uncovered key moments to design for it, and we expanded the range of levers we use when designing to build belonging and reduce othering. From personal experiences that we discussed in small groups, it was really special to see how those experiences turned into very practical solutions.”

Nick’s favourite workshop was called ‘Learning in the Metaverse’. “The workshop was led by an ex-teacher who founded a VR-startup on a mission to enhance the knowledge retention of children using this technology. At the start of the workshop we were asked to put on the VR-headset and to create an avatar. With our avatar, we were placed in a diving site in which we learned more about coral reefs and certain fish. Before and afterwards our knowledge was tested with a quiz, and although they didn’t show us the correct answers it became very obvious that this way of learning (interacting, reading and listening) is very effective in terms of knowledge retention.”


Main takeaways

To boil down the heaps of knowledge that was accumulated in the three days by the students, each of them came up with one key takeaway. For Anisha, it was the importance of an interactive mindset. “The success of a project is largely based on keeping a close eye on the needs and wants of the people who will be using the product, event, or connection you are trying to establish.” For Nick, it was the importance of both the journey, and the destination. “The moment you reach your goal you will most likely set a new one, so it is important to understand that if you haven’t reached you are still developing yourself and to keep enjoying the journey along the way.” Finally, for Teodora it was that capturing diversity is hard, but can be worked towards. “As Student Innovation Fellows, we must try our best to accommodate the needs of our diverse student body- which is a hard task, but as the event has proven, definitely not an impossible one.”

What’s next?

The first UIF cohort of EUR has spent their first year laying a solid foundation for future UIF cohorts at our university. They have been exploring the education and innovation landscape of EUR, have been in touch with relevant stakeholders, and worked on projects and events in the sphere of education innovation. Recently, the new 2022-23 EUR UIF cohort has been selected, and is in the process of applying to the Stanford UIF training. With the new team, and the new ideas gathered at the meetup, they are more excited and inspired than ever to continue encouraging innovation on EUR’s campus. 

If you want to contact the Student Innovation Fellows, feel free to reach them at

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