Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight: Connie Fan
Ugonna Akuba





Name: Connie Fan

Major/College: CS, ILEE, College of Engineering

Year in School: Junior

TEC Programs: Silicon Valley Workshop, Innovation LLC

What is your affiliation with the University?

I’m a junior double majoring in Computer Science and Innovation, Leadership and Engineering (ILEE).

What is your favorite place to eat on campus?

There’s a place called Courier Café in Urbana that’s really good. It’s kind of like those old-fashioned restaurants. It’s really cute.

How did you get involved with TEC?

I lived in Innovation LLC when I was a freshman. We had to take a TEC Course and I took TE 360. The people in it were really helpful and cool and it was really interesting. This kind of led me on a path to take more classes and become more involved.

What was the most beneficial TEC Course you’ve taken?

TE 450 which is Startups: Inc, Fund, Contracts, and IP. It’s taught by Joe Barich who is this super cool high power lawyer. It was really helpful but also really scary. I think legal pitfalls are something people don’t really think about but they’re everywhere and scary.

How would you describe your experience in Innovation LLC?

There were a lot of really interesting people, many of whom I still talk to now. We had this garage downstairs where I built some of my projects. It’s definitely a really cool place and I really recommend it to people who are just coming in and not really knowing what they want to do.

What was a highlight for you at the Silicon Valley Workshop?

If I had to pick the coolest thing that I saw it would be touring the Tesla Factory. We got to see how they build the cars and all the robotics. If I had to pick a second favorite it would be touring the Bloom Energy Factory. We got to see them make little power cells. Both of those are not related to speakers but they were super cool to look at.

Is there something that surprised you on the Silicon Valley Workshop?

I was surprised by how raw people were willing to get with us. We were talking to Tom Siebel and he was very upfront and frank about family things and all the struggles that he went through. A lot of people were very open about that. I was surprised how honest people were with us and that was really awesome.

How has TEC helped you overall with your interest in entrepreneurship?

TEC has helped me form meaningful connections with like-minded entrepreneurs and helped me build necessary tools to pursue my interests.

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Student Spotlight: Ignacio "Nacho" Diaz De Argandona Delgado De Molina
Ugonna Akuba

Ignacio 'Nacho' Diaz De Argandona Delgado De Molina
Ignacio 'Nacho' Diaz De Argandona Delgado De Molina

















What is your connection to the University of Illinois?

I studied my last year of my Master’s degree at UIUC. I also did my Master’s thesis there, as an Independent Study.


What’s your favorite thing to do on campus?

I really enjoyed going to the pool at the ARC in the morning after classes. When the outdoors pool was open it was even better!


What is the most beneficial TEC Course that you’ve taken?

It was ENG/TE 333: Creativity, Innovation and Vision


Why was it so beneficial?

It helped me to realize that I was actually creative, that I was able to solve any problem in a creative way and that I could eventually build my own business and my future around it. It was a really cool realization.


You said that you attended SocialFuse and the Entrepreneurship Forum, can you describe your experiences at both?

I really believe this is key for future entrepreneurs and confident people. It changed my perspective and my life goals in just 10 months, I can imagine how it could be to spend 4 years connected to this world.


Did you always know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Not at all. After 4 years of Aerospace degree in Spain I didn’t really know which way to go. I’m mad about electronic music and producing my own music. I though many times of giving that a shot, but after all I had studied it was a hard decision to take. I also tried to be an airline pilot. I applied to a British Airways training program in London, but after two phases of selection process I got rejected. I thought that it was perhaps a matter of location. I decided that I wanted to study one year abroad, live new experiences and see what happened. It turned out to be a key experience for me that changed the way I saw my future. It was during my stay at UIUC that I knew that entrepreneurship was what motivated me.


How do you think TEC courses has shaped the way you think?

I didn’t have this entrepreneurial spark until I took TEC courses. They helped me see myself as a person that wants to pursue his own ideas. That’s pretty cool. I really believe they do a great job in transmitting this message to the students.


What is one goal that you have for your future regarding entrepreneurship?

I am launching SkiConnect, a startup that develops new technology for ski resorts. We aim to increase the experience of the skier by getting rid of unnecessary lines, speeding up the payment processes and connecting them to each other. We are now in early stages, but it is very promising and we are receiving great feedback from people. I hope to see this idea real soon!


How did you come up with the idea for SkiConnect? Is there a story behind it?

I’m mad about electronic music and everything around it. I love going to music festivals to listen to my favorite underground DJ’s and producers. I once attended the Berlin Festival, in which I used for the first time ever these contactless chips embedded into the wristband to make payments. It was super easy to just tag your wristband onto the reader and pay. I loved it. While in TEC 298 with Harlee Sorkin, I told him the idea of building a management solution for music festivals with wristbands, apps, etc. We concluded after a little research that this idea was already spread across Europe, and so I had a lot of competitors before even starting. We decided to pivot, and the result target was ski resorts. I loved the idea because I’m a skier since I was like 4… it was really exciting.

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