College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources


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Food Science/Food Safety Student Named University Innovation Fellow

North Dakota State University food science/food safety student David Syverson recently was named a University Innovation Fellow. Syverson and two other NDSU students join 169 students from 49 institutions of higher education in four countries to be selected in the latest group of University Innovation Fellows. The program, run by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, trains and supports student leaders to become agents of change in their schools.

To become a University Innovation Fellow, students are nominated by a current Fellow or an advising professor, then complete several applications and interviews. After being accepted as a University Innovation Fellow, students go through six weeks of online training.

The online training involves exercises and experiences intended to help fellows develop their design thinking, innovation, entrepreneurship, and communication skills. “The main point of the training was to teach us to think,” says Syverson. “Not outside the box, but like there was no box there in the first place. We then had to learn how to take an idea and make it happen through every possible resource available to us.”

Each student or group of students develops a main focus or priority for their University Innovation Fellow project. Syverson is leading a project called Stackable Credentials, which aims to place a credential on the transcript of students who have learned and been tested on relevant skills at a job level, quantifying the skill for a potential employer. “For instance,” explains Syverson, “a student from any field who has learned how to work in a microbiology lab through research or Innovation Challenge can potentially receive a credential for it.”

In March 2017, Syverson will have the opportunity to travel to Silicon Valley to participate in the University Innovation Fellows Meetup, where Fellows will participate in experiential workshops and exercises focused on movement building, innovation spaces, design of learning experiences and new models for change in higher education.

Syverson is a junior from Hastings, Minnesota, double majoring in Food Science and Food Safety. His major adviser is Plant Sciences professor Cliff Hall. Plant Sciences assistant professor of practice Anuradha Vegi provided a nomination letter and has advised Syverson for the University Innovation Fellows program. Syverson credits them for being great supporters of the work he is doing at NDSU.

Syverson serves as the vice president of the Food Science and Safety Club, and as the secretary of the Innovation Corps. He is participating in the 2017 NDSU Innovation Challenge competition and he works in the food science labs. He will intern at Dakota Growers Pasta Company in summer 2017. Syverson’s future career goal is to go into research and development for a Fortune 500 company.

 Syverson’s interest in food science was sparked by everyday chemistry and nutritional aspects in food.  He is interested in innovation, because, “I want to be able to be a part of creating a food, something people use in their everyday lives, and be able to say that I was a part of it. Everything starts with an idea and a little motivation. Not to mention I would get to eat a lot of food, something I am very passionate about.”

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