Student Innovation Fellows Bring the Future to CSUN

  • Left to right, Student University Fellows Daniel Aguiar and Diego Vilchez sit in front of Jacaranda Hall at California State University, Northridge. Photo by Victor Kamont.

Innovation is the key to success in a new millennium. At California State University, Northridge, two students are helping lead this movement by encouraging their peers to succeed in the workforce.

Senior engineering majors Daniel Aguiar and Diego Vilchez are the first CSUN students to join the ranks of 289 other University Innovation Fellows at 114 schools across the country after being selected by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter).

The duo plans to create a groundbreaking networking structure at CSUN to bridge the gap between the various colleges and create a place for interdisciplinary innovation.

Senior engineering project adviser Bingbing Li said both Aguiar and Vilchez show great potential in promoting innovative fronts at CSUN.

“Both Daniel and Diego are excellent students in my senior design class, and they showed active attitudes and creative thinking in the senior project,” Li said. “That is why I chose [to nominate] them.”

Having a bigger scope for your vision also is vital to the innovative process, Vilchez said. He used the example of Google’s garage [in Silicon Valley], which is a place for Google employees, known as Googlers, to experiment with innovative ideas and collaborate on whatever comes to mind.

“The founder of the Google garage told us [to] remember these three things: Be curious, dream big and be uncomfortably excited,” he said.

Being “uncomfortably excited” is one of the most challenging concepts of innovation to understand, Vilchez said, because it forces a person to think outside his or her comfort zone.

“There are certain points when you hit walls, where you have a problem with what you are designing. The innovation comes from there, where you [find] a different solution,” he said.

Aguiar said he believes having more integrated innovation teams will bring out the creativity in everyone.

“Everybody is an innovator,” Aguiar said. “I mean, you invent yourself, right? Every day.”

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