Audrey Bull and Ed Drabold

Audrey Bull and Ed Drabold were chosen as University Innovation Fellows by Stanford University. They hope to bring a class to OHIO that will introduce freshman to life at OHIO and hope they become inspired by successful alumni.

Photographer: Alaina Bartel

Interim Dean of the Honors Tutorial College Cary Frith; and Paul Mass, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship are pictured.

Interim Dean of the Honors Tutorial College Cary Frith; and Paul Mass, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship are pictured at a presentation by Audrey Bull and Ed Drabold. The students pitched an idea of what they want to bring to campus.

Photographer: Alaina Bartel

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Two OHIO students named University Innovation Fellows

Bull, Drabold chosen for Stanford program

Two Ohio University Honors Tutorial College students have been named 2018 University Innovation Fellows — a program that empowers students to become agents of change at their schools. This is the third year in a row that OHIO has had two students selected for the program.

HTC business major Audrey Bull and HTC environmental studies major Ed Drabold are two of 358 students from 96 higher education institutions and 16 countries who were named fellows this year.

“Higher education needs to change faster to meet the needs of students and industry today,” said Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, co-director of the UIF program. “As the key stakeholders of higher education, students should be active participants of a change process that helps them learn the skills and mindsets necessary to create the future.”

UIF is run by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (, and has trained 1,800 students across the globe since its creation. The fellows have developed student innovation spaces like OHIO’s new CoLab, which was created by former fellows; founded entrepreneurship organizations, hosted experiential events and worked with faculty and administrators to develop courses.

Fellows are sponsored by faculty and administrators as individuals or teams of students and selected through an application process. Following acceptance into the program, schools fund the students through six weeks of online training and travel to one of two in-person meetups to continue their projects and skill building.

Bull and Drabold were sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship. The center’s director, Paul Mass, and Associate Director, Paul Benedict, are their faculty champions. The directors meet with the students each week to see what they’ve accomplished and acts as mentors.

Mass said the UIF program is purely self-initiated. No one is paying the students to create change for their peers and university — they’re simply doing it for the betterment of everyone involved.

“I think you will see changes in curriculum; sometimes the physical look of the University,” Mass explained. “But I think CoLab is the most tangible evidence of change that can come as a result of this program.”

Both Bull and Drabold have had incredibly experiential learning experiences in their time at OHIO that led them to the fellowship.

Bull was instrumental in the opening of the CoLab, as she worked with faculty in the Center for Entrepreneurship to bring it to life. Drabold has conducted original lab research, working on carbon capture from algae. He deployed some of their proprietary techniques this summer at an internship with Honda’s R&D team.

“They’re both sophomores, so the fact that they’ve had these opportunities in their first year at OHIO is really special,” said Cary Frith, HTC interim dean. “I think that it shows we are a national leader in innovation.”

Bull said innovation and entrepreneurship are often tied with making money — but she doesn’t believe that is true innovation at its core.

“Innovation to me is progress in a positive direction; it’s progress for the betterment of individuals,” she explained. “I think that innovation, whether incremental or radical innovation, leads to making people’s lives better.”

That’s exactly what Bull and Drabold hope to do for Ohio University students as a part of the UIF program. The fellows hope to bring “First University Class” to OHIO.

Ideally, the class, with the backbone of civility, diversity and history, would show tangible success stories of OHIO alumni. It would be an introduction to Appalachia, the region and how Ohio University contributes to it. And, it would push students to find their passion and purpose.

“We would like them to develop a passion,” Drabold noted. “These people, the alumni who have gone on to achieve great success, developed a passion and then they followed through with it. Students would not have to have a passion coming out of the class but would need to show that they’ve worked towards it.”

First University Class has a few meanings in its name. It would literally be one of the first classes taken by OHIO students. OHIO is the first university in the Northwest Territory and it’s the first university created by an act of Congress.

Drabold and Bull are working with administrators to develop First University Class, which they hope would have several notable alumni speak to the incoming freshmen.

The class might not be implemented before they graduate. After all, the CoLab took four years to come to fruition. That just gives Bull and Drabold even more inspiration to accomplish great things.

“Maybe we’ll even be one of the alumni,” Drabold laughed.

To find out more about University Innovation Fellows, visit