Innovation Scholars at St. Olaf College offers a high-impact experiential learning opportunity during Interim and involves selected students working on cross-disciplinary teams on real-world challenges in technology transfer and entrepreneurship. Innovation Scholars programming utilizes a hybrid format and offers multidisciplinary teams the opportunity to engage in the business development of new innovations in real time by working on projects drawn from Mayo Clinic, Medical Alley companies, NASA, Medtronic, and other institutions.
Interim 2023 Innovation Scholars Participants
The selected student teams work with St. Olaf faculty and staff mentors and sometimes with an MBA graduate student from a Minnesota institution. Each team is given a product or innovation in development to research and assess its technology, potential applications, marketplace viability, and commercialization process. Innovation Scholars targets St. Olaf students with a background in the natural sciences, nursing, economics, management studies or mathematics.
Innovation Scholars teams working on projects from different sources (Mayo Clinic, Medical Alley companies, NASA, Medtronic, etc.) embrace the same goals, utilize the same experiential learning model, follow the same timeline, and produce similar learning outcomes. The team process and deliverables will vary in relation to the specific project as well as the team composition and conclusions.
The goals of Innovation Scholars are to:
- To assist Mayo Clinic or the other agencies in the assessment of new products and innovations in development;
- To provide research opportunities for undergraduate science and business students;
- To provide leadership development opportunities for graduate students.
By providing Mayo Clinic, the medical companies, and other agencies with in-depth reports and analyses, students gain intellectual and research experience in diverse fields of science, medicine, and health care delivery, including molecular and cell biology, physiology, clinical diagnostics, surgery, patient education, and kinesiology. Students also learn about patents, technology transfer, and entrepreneurship as well as financial and market analyses. Each team is also charged with considering the ethics of their project and discussing ethical dilemmas and concerns. St. Olaf alumni frequently report that this program opened their eyes to new career pathways and that the experience plays a prominent role in interviews for employment, graduate school, and medical school.
The Innovation Scholars experience culminates with teams presenting their findings and recommendations to audiences made up of CEOs, project managers, and inventors at participating agencies/companies as well as to other student teams, staff, and faculty mentors from the other participating Minnesota private colleges and universities.
The Innovation Scholars team of St. Olaf College will work together on a predetermined project, and teams will be composed of students representing a variety of science and economics backgrounds who demonstrate strong analytical and communication skills and success as an effective team member. The Interim experiences is offered through the Biology 395 course, taught by Dr. Kevin Crisp in St. Olaf Biology Department, and the student team in working with Mayo Clinic will also be mentored by an MBA graduate student.
- Time: Interim (January) 2024
- Information Session: Thursday, Sept 23, 2023, 11:30am – 12:30pm, TOH 200
- Application Deadline for Interim 2024: Friday, Sept 29, 2023, 11:55pm Central time
- Students selected for the Innovation Scholars 2024 interim cohort will be expected to participate in several pre-experience on-campus team meetings and possible required virtual meetings with program mentors outside St. Olaf. Additionally, the team members must attend other orientation sessions for which travel (provided by the College) may be required. Teams participating during the 2024 Interim will share the results of their research in early March 2024.
- Interim participants will receive a $1500 stipend upon completion of the project.
- Interim Program: Junior or Senior (exceptional sophomores may be considered)
- Major or concentration in any of the natural sciences, nursing, economics, management or media studies, mathematics, or with other relevant academic background/experience
- Strong academic record
- Excellent written and oral communication skills
- Ability to extend one’s knowledge base to the topic at hand and to conceptualize and frame relevant questions
- Previous experience in research preferred but not required
- Evidence of effectiveness as part of a team
- Understanding and respect for confidentiality
- Willingness to commit time and energy to the project
- Unofficial transcript – Log in to the SIS go to grades -> select all years/terms -> export as a PDF file (one way to do this is by going to a print screen and clicking on “view as PDF”, or “view in preview”)
- Letter explaining interest in this initiative, describing background and specific experiences related to the project, and providing an example of a team on which the student has been an effective member
- Name of one faculty member to be used as a reference, indicated in the letter
- Login to Handshake via the directions next to the login field. Search for “Innovation Scholars – Interim 2024” under the job and internship postings tab.
- Save your resume, unofficial transcript & cover letter to a common location
- Upload your resume “under resume”, your transcript under “unofficial transcript”, and your letter explaining interest under “writing sample” (all under the “Documents” tab on the blue menu bar).
- On the right-hand panel, select your resume, transcript & personal statement – click “Submit”.
Interviews of Selected Students
A team of St. Olaf personnel will conduct formal interviews in Fall 2023 (dates TBD) after review of applications. The final selection will be based on academic background and related experience with care taken to create the appropriate mix of academic backgrounds on each team.