by Francis Atore
As I sat in the Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University, I was in awe of the environment. The architecture of the hall plus the opportunity of being in the presence of influential people in attendance such as Bernie Roth and Heidi Roizen made me feel euphoric. As the talk began, Elon Musk, (founder of Tesla & SpaceX) and Steve Jurvetson (partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson) walked out on stage. Steve began to ask Elon a series of questions about the future of technology and even Mars! I was blown away at the moonshot thinking that the people around me had. They spoke freely about audacious goals and progress for mankind with moxie and hope. They even discussed how artificial intelligence (AI) and genetics are projected to be the next major revolutionary fields. Talking cars, watches and phones were regarded as impossible 20 years ago and are now reality. Holograms were a fairytale, but with the emergence of developer environments such as leap motion, they are now reality (I guess fairytales come true)! An episode of MTV cribs on Mars now seems far fetched, but how about we fast forward to 2035. Will the first episode feature a University Innovation Fellow?
The event was an incredible experience and encouragement to what I hope to achieve as a person who happens to be studying engineering. Hearing Elon Musk speak about the future and the opportunity to go after goals that are often difficult for most people to picture exemplifies the seed that was planted in me through the University Innovation Fellows program. We always need to think about how people imagined our present world in the past, then think about the present, then think about how we view the future, and then time travel to the future by making it happen. We don’t necessarily have to focus on one thing our whole lives, and don’t have to specialize in what we went to college for or what we have always done. It’s ok to be regarded as crazy–at least we know it. The crazy ideas tend to have the best chance of changing the world, but we always need a community of realistic collaborators and friends to keep us streamlined.
I entered the program as a creative hopeful with the outlook that I could accomplish little. However, through the program I’ve grown to outgrow the limited mentality I once had–the mindset that dreams could not come true if I did not have sufficient resources on hand. Now, after becoming a Fellow and having the opportunity to travel to California twice, gaining and sharing as much knowledge accumulated back to my campus; I know this is only the beginning.
Elon mentioned how he only focuses on solving problems that will have a significant impact on others. He is able to solve these problems with an extraordinary team of doers who have the capacity to imagine and believe. As a Fellow, I hope that I can ignite the freedom of imagination and belief in solving mankind’s challenges through empowering the students on my campus. As we analyze the world we live in and imagine the future, we need to identify the most interesting problems to solve that will develop a meaningful purpose in others. Secondly, prioritize the sequence in which we tackle problems based on the amount of resources that are readily available for each problem. Third, the notion that good people finish last is not true and does not have to be the case. We can always help others shine and succeed and still be successful.
UIF’s mantra is, “We believe students can change the world!” As a Fellow, I firmly believe and stand by this . How do Fellows live out this mantra? We live it by creating/strengthening innovation spaces, entrepreneurship events, design thinking workshops, multi-school collaborations, and national partnerships in the hopes that these offerings will raise up curiously empowered problem solvers and selfless entrepreneurs all across America and the world. “We believe students can change the world.” Do you believe?
P.S. This has nothing to do with the talk, but you need to make sure that you have the RIGHT type of post its. That is, a number of 3 X 3 post it brands and not yellow (too generic), multi colored set. For more technical details consult Leticia, the POST IT guru.
Francis is an honors college student studying
Chemical Engineering at Texas Tech. He is
engaging students in design thinking and
creativity through Do. Think. Make. events.
Alexandra Seda, Ohio Northern University
Alexandra is studying Electrical Engineering
at Ohio Northern University. She is working to
redesign spaces across campus to enhance
creative thinking in students.