Four engineering students named University Innovation Fellows


Four Texas A&M University engineering students have been named University Innovation Fellows by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), a program to empower students to help their peers gain an entrepreneurial mindset and creative confidence.

Brendan Cooper, Jean-Claude Faa, Carson Muscat and Jeffrey Zhao are among 150 students from 52 institutions in the newly selected group. The Fellows’ goal is to increase engagement with innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity and design, thinking as student leaders and change agents on campus.

“The Dwight Look College of Engineering is empowering undergraduate engineering students to lead innovation and entrepreneurship on our campus and enhance our eco-system,” said Magdalini Lagoudas, executive director for industry and nonprofit partnership. 

Each of the four students invested time developing a landscape of current programs and courses on entrepreneurship and then developed a plan to either launch new programs or enhance existing ones. The Epicenter training provided resources and access to a network of highly innovative undergraduates across the country.

Cooper, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, is developing a new program to help students who have developed ideas and rough prototypes through programs such as Aggies Invent and U-Ignite, to pursue them further.

“I believe that as a student, I can offer a unique perspective on the existing entrepreneurial and innovative program structures on campus,” said Cooper. “With the proper work ethic and determination and help from faculty, I can bring a new experience to the Texas A&M campus.”

Faa, a junior mechanical engineering major, will lead the student effort to promote the Look College’s U-Ignite video competition and engage freshman engineering students in generating innovative ideas, assisting students in bringing their idea past the ideation stage to development.

Muscat, a senior petroleum engineering major, plans on assisting with the promotion and student engagement of the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Design competition in January. He also plans to support the U-Ignite effort.

Zhao, a senior mechanical engineering major, will also be working with his fellow UIF scholars to improve and run the U-Ignite video competition.

“I wish to one day become an entrepreneur. This is one of the steps along that path,” said Zhao. “I have met and networked with many of A&M's top engineering faculty and I know these connections will help me in the future.”

Epicenter is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell.  The program has trained more than 450 students from 130 universities.