FSU Panama City student stands out as innovator

Bipol Alam

FSU Panama City computer science student Bipol Alam stands out as an innovator and a “cool all ’round individual,” according to the University Innovation Fellows program.

Alam has been selected “to dream, design and deliver innovations that solve real-world problems” for the Spring 2014 fellowship program. He andJesse Henry from FSU Tallahassee are both Spring 2014 Fellows.

“I am deeply honored to be recognized as a student who is involved in innovation,” Alam said. “This fellowship is embodied by students who are driven by motivating others to achieve greatness, which is something I treasure doing.”

The University Innovation Fellows program is a strategic initiative by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), which is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and the national Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance.

About 75 undergraduate STEM students from 51 schools nationwide are selected to collaborate and initiate change where they see it is most needed. Typical projects range from founding organizations, hosting speakers, creating on-campus spaces for innovation, discussing new classes and organizing competitions.

Alam hopes to construct an “IdeaSpace” on campus, “a room dedicated to creativity and a common ground for students to pose questions and offer solutions,” he said. “We have lots of students who are full of bright ideas that they never act upon. The IdeaSpace will allow students to showcase their passion for creating, and hopefully inspire others to do the same.”

A graduate of Arnold High School in Panama City Beach and Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Alam choose FSU Panama City because “the small class sizes and cost were things that no other university could match.”

Although a student at FSU Panama City for less than a year, Alam has had a significant effect on campus life, said associate dean and computer science instructor, Steve Leach. “Bipol is an exceptionally strong student in the field of computer science and has carried course loads of 18 to 17 semester hours, but this hasn’t kept him from participating in a number of extracurricular activities.”

Alam is active in the Association for Computing Machinery, one of FSU Panama City’s premier student organizations, and he is working on the redesign and publication of the student newspaper, The Signal. He also was selected to be one of the lead programmers for Sam E. Nole, the humanoid robot that serves as an experimental platform for computer science and engineering students and a mechanism to promote STEM programs and activities to students in the local public schools.

“Bipol is much more than a rising star in computer science,” said Chris Lacher, professor emeritus in computer science. “The breadth and depth of his interests range from entrepreneurial opportunities developed in ACM meetings to educating middle school student in the STEM disciplines. He is a superb representative of the modern thinker and technological doer.”

Students selected as University Innovation Fellows are natural leaders and originators of change, according to the fellowship criteria. “They observe the needs of their fellow students and respond to the demand for more activities and programs focused on entrepreneurship, innovation, venture creation, technology, design thinking and creativity.”

Lacher, who nominated Alam for the fellowship, said he sees the student as a natural leader, working hard to better himself, his peers and society.

The program is in its fourth year providing undergraduate students the training and support to become leaders for change on their campuses. Fellows help attract other students toward innovation and entrepreneurship. Alam’s own interests lean towards entrepreneurship.

“I think I’d prefer to be my own boss,” he said, “maybe create a software boutique like all the other dreamy comp sci grads and have the creative freedom to do whatever I want to do.”

According to Alam, the fellowship inductee process consists of a six-week course in which you collaborate with other inductees from across the United States. Each week, a new project is assigned that fosters a deeper understanding of the entrepreneurial climate in any given area.

For his first assignment, Alam was tasked with creating the wiki page for the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition and presenting the competition’s benefit to other universities. A wiki page allows others to modify or edit content in collaboration.

Alam and Henry, from the Tallahassee campus, are the first FSU students to receive this honor, Leach noted.

“Bipol’s recent selection as a University Innovation Fellow is not only a personal honor for him, but also one for our campus,” Leach said.