NTXIA Partners with UTA and UTD To Launch Urban Resilience Fellowship

Through the program, the North Texas Innovation Alliance will connect university students with community and industry partners to develop "innovative solutions to improve the everyday lives of the public." They'll do this across a wide range of sectors, from mobility to cybersecurity to sustainability and more.

Universities in North Texas work every day to educate a new generation—while just outside the campuses, industries and community organizations make their own efforts to keep the region flourishing and successful. Now a new initiative has been launched to bring all three together in an innovative, game-changing way.

The North Texas Innovation Alliance has announced the launch of its Urban Resilience Fellowship Program, in partnership with the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Texas at Dallas. The pioneering initiative “aims to nurture emerging leaders and equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to address critical challenges facing the North Texas community,” the NTXIA said.

The new program from the NTXIA—a nonprofit regional consortium of over 40 municipalities, agencies, corporations and academic institutions across North Texas—connects students from universities and higher education institutions across Dallas-Fort Worth with community and industry partners.

The inaugural pilot program, the first of its kind championed by NTXIA, has already kicked off this semester at both UT Arlington and UT Dallas.

Meghna Tare, UTA’s chief sustainability officer, called the new program “a unique and transformative opportunity for emerging leaders in the field of urban planning, environmental science, social innovation and related disciplines to gain hands-on experience, mentorship and the tools they need to drive positive change within urban areas.”

“Bringing this new program into our teaching and curriculum opens up an exciting avenue for UTA students to apply their skills and knowledge to tackle real-world challenges through experiential learning,” Tare added in a statement, “ultimately contributing to the betterment of our communities and enhancing the overall education of student participants.”

Participating students will be put into ‘multi-disciplinary groups’

Undergraduate, graduate, and PhD students from the two universities are taking part in a semester-long engagement in the program. Participants are being put into “multi-disciplinary groups” to work with community partners including the Southern Dallas County Inland Port Transportation Management Association and the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

The student groups will be guided by a faculty expert who’ll help define the problem statement of the community partner and advise students on how best to approach challenges and implementation plans, the NTXIA said. 

Projects to focus on transportation, cybersecurity, data analytics, environmental governance, and more

The students will focus on creating “innovative solutions to improve the everyday lives of the public” based on issues identified by each partner “across mobility and transportation, cybersecurity, data analytics, environmental and social governance, climate change and sustainability, and more,” the NTXIA said.

UTD Associate Professor of Public and Nonprofit Management James Harrington said the program offers UTD students “a fantastic opportunity to gain real-world experience before entering the workforce.”

“The flexibility of this program allows us to include this project as part of our capstone for the public policy group so that it fits best to our curriculum while also addressing the issues in local focus areas,” Harrington said in a statement. “We’re excited to get our students involved and are looking forward to seeing what the next generation of bright minds can bring to our communities.”

NTXIA Co-Founder and Executive Director Jennifer Sanders believes the program provides “a unique opportunity” for North Texas, as well.

“Through this pilot program, we hope to combine multiple perspectives and schools of thought from cities, universities and more, and we’re hopeful to have ‘lightbulb moments’ for each of our community partners,” Sanders said. “This also supports our mission of bringing previously siloed groups together, with the aim of expanding the program to include other partners, universities and colleges in the region, to further support innovation that will benefit residents of North Texas.”

Final presentations to cap off the semester

Students taking part in the program will finish each semester with a final presentation summarizing the project and their progress, the NTXIA said, with the summaries potentially including budgeting, optimization and sustainability strategies, marketing campaigns, research, and policy recommendations.

“Our goal with this program is to cultivate innovative talent in North Texas by engaging students with real-world challenges,” NTXIA Director of Strategic Partnerships Yumna Bham said in a statement. “By creating a collaborative and innovative environment, we are giving future generations the tools to tackle pressing community concerns while enhancing overall regional resilience. These future-looking solutions will allow our communities to address complex regional challenges that will continue to improve the overall resiliency of North Texas.”

For more about the Urban Resilience Fellowship Program, you can go here.

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