This Is Water: A Commencement Address Worth Bookmarking
“This Is Water” is a video interpretation of the famous 2005 Commencement address delivered by David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College (read the backstory
about this inspiring video created by LA-based production shop, The Glossary, and the WSJ article
about its viral spread). It is an epic speech that captures the choices you have in front of you.
In the words of David Foster Wallace, choose something other than the natural hardwired default setting that you are the absolute center of the universe. Be ‘well adjusted’. Pay attention to what is going on inside you. You are labored through this academic experience. You now know how to think. You can now choose how to construct meaning from experience.
Do not fall victim to day in day out. There are many problems to solve. There are many solutions right under our nose, for you to uncover and pursue with dogged and successful execution. We wish you much luck and success in following your passion, choosing a meaningful path and leaving your mark on the world.
~Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, NCIIA
Student Ambassadors and University leaders take note, the Kauffman Foundation has made it a whole lot easier to get up and running with your own campus competition!
I-Start is an online tool that allows anyone to set up and manage a business plan, business model or design competition. The Kauffman Foundation acquired the platform in 2009 from then Harvard student and now Director, Katie Peterson. You can be up and running in under 40 minutes with a simple competition, says Peterson in a YouTube video that describes a range of flexibility. Program Managers are offered a site with their own brand and domain name. A well-designed graphical user interface allows managers to set entry criteria, types of responses accepted and required elements. Users invite their own judges and manage the review processes.
On the flip side, if you’re a student startup thinking about doing the competition circuit, i-Start makes it vastly easier to search and apply for the range of different competitions for which you may be eligible. To date, close to 9,500 companies have applied to over 200 competitions. To learn more, check out the organization’s video about i-Start…
What does the study of Biomimicry, Berkeley University and Whole Foods have in common? Boys growing mushrooms, that’s what.
But first, let me tell you why this is on my radar screen. I was recently invited to review Stage 2 applications for The Biomimicry Design Challenge (visit the link to see the submissions that made it past Stage 1), a competition spearheaded by The Biomimicry 3.8 Institute. Aimed at college and university students, the design challenge provides an opportunity for students to work collaboratively in teams to apply biomimicry concepts and tools to arrive at a sustainable and innovative design solution.
I manage two competitions for NCIIA, coached hundreds of founders, reviewed SBIR Phase II grants for the NSF … BUT, what do I really know about biomimicry? Time to brush up!
On the WebEx orientation for judges (something you don’t see many reviewing organization do) a passing comment alluded to ‘the mushroom boys from Berkeley’. That’s how I discovered Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez of University of California Berkeley who are using the fundamental principles of biomimicry to haul off thousands of pounds of waste from barista coffee grounds to grow gourmet mushrooms, mushroom kits and premium soil amendment sold at hundreds of Whole Foods locations on the West Coast… and they’re expanding nationally.
Alex Velez & Nikhil Arora, from Back to the Roots,
describe ‘Business 3.0′ as delivering value to all partners.
These recent grads have developed a truly sustainable business, having cultivated a symbiotic relationship between the coffee shop sector, through its waste stream, and the urban local food consumer. You will not regret watching their 15-minute TEDx talk (above). If you’re like me, you’ll be smiling the entire time, taken by their charm, authenticity and … well … giddiness, about how obvious it is that time-tested fundamentals of value generation can serve as a guiding principle in building highly-sustainable businesses.
Another great way to take in a crash course in Biomimicry in under a half hour is by watching Biomimicry 3.8 founder Janine Benyus’ riveting TED talk, ’12 sustainable design ideas from nature’.
I’m thrilled to be a judge for the Biomimicry Design Challenge and I will report back on the experience.
~Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, NCIIA.
Today show segment showcases exciting new program that’s ‘making makers’ within high school.
High School Makers in MA Earning Big Bucks in Robotics & Advanced Manufacturing
According to the segment, The unemployment rate for people under the age of 25 is 16.2%, double the national average. A new program in Massachusetts is designed to train students in advanced manufacturing, robotics and precision machining to satisfy the predicted 100,000 jobs that will be available in medical devices, biotechnology and other technology sectors. The program trains students in advanced techniques at vocational school, and students graduate with their high school diploma with 100% chance of getting a job in their field at rates at a starting salary of $45,000. As someone who believes in the value of a college education for the experience of broadening one’s viewpoint, adopting solid STEM expertise, dabbling in the humanities and more … the phenomenon does give me pause. Still, one can’t argue with the defying of unemployment odds. If they felt they needed it, $45K allows students to self-fund evening and weekend courses to earn the notch on their resume that contributes to upward mobility. Heck, they could potentially take Stanford and MIT Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for free and amass a powerhouse of knowledge, allowing them to lead the U.S. rebirth of technology-driven manufacturing debt-free and on their terms.
If you’re a college track student, though, you can still gain these practical skills. We see a growing trend in Colleges and Universities offering Design Kitchens and Innovation Spaces complete with CNC machines, 3-D Printers and other prototyping, invention and innovation tools. NCIIA has funded a number of of these with its Course and Program Grants in which faculty get $50,000 to support University/College build-out of such programs, five page proposal deadline due next Friday, May 10th). We highlighted six such spaces at the Smithsonian during our OPEN 2013 national conference last month in Washington D.C.. If you’re a faculty member or student thinking about ‘setting up shop’ at a place the University community can openly access maker tools, check out the YouTube video below. You’ll hear six 3-minute talks faculty from U-Michigan, Georgia Tech, Rice, Stanford, Berkeley and the K-12 environment. Imagine a space, central on campus and accessible to students regardless of major or year. Imagine a space that allowed students to create Valentine’s Day presents and other personal items in order to encourage a culture of making, inventing and innovating. Imagine a space staffed entirely by students, developing strong student expertise and incorporating strict codes of safety. Now, imagine a nation of makers and entrepreneurial-minded young people, socially aware and passionate about tackling the world’s most pressing problems. College students don’t want to find themselves at a disadvantage to those who gained practical skills through vocational training. They’re dissatisfied with the pace of change within academia (Making, Entrepreneurship and Innovation seen as one in the same practical tool set College Students want) and many are leading the charge within their own institutions, like Jared Karp our Student Ambassador from Berkeley and one of the six speakers in the following video. While academia may be slow to change, students have more of a sense of urgency (with graduation comes repayment made impossible without a job). What’s more, they’re the customer! And that gives them a certain clout and ability to avoid institutional politics. Click and get ready to be inspired:
To inquire about bringing a Design Kitchen or Maker Space to you your campus, contact me at humera at nciia dot org.
~ Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, NCIIA
On Twitter @ihumera
Posted in Georgia Tech, NCIIA, NCIIA Grantees, Rice, Stanford University, University of California Berkeley, University of Michigan
Tagged Advanced Manufacturing, CNC, Design Kitchens, Invention Spaces, Maker Movement, Robotics, Vocational Schools
The April issue of Harvard Business Review features a must-read article from Steve Blank on the acclaimed Lean Startup Methodology being deployed widely in the technology venture development circles. This is an especially exciting development for two reasons:
1) While HBR has published widely on management issues faced by large and established companies, it hasn’t been known for its relevance to the startup world (until now), and
2) It casts a much-needed spotlight on a disciplined process that has received a lot of attention, namely for its proven results in minimizing wasted development investment prior to vetting the business model.
Steve Blank’s Article in the Harvard Business Review
At the heart of this technique is the rigorous, and oft times brutally honest, customer development process in validating, refining and finding the customer value proposition and associated business model that makes the most economic sense. National Collegiate Inventors & Innovators Alliance has been managing the scale up of the National Science Foundation’s use of this methodology as it relates to its I-Corp research grant recipients. In addition, NCIIA and Epicenter (National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation) are about to hold a third workshop for University faculty to learn directly from Steve Blank, who teaches University venture teams at U.C. Berkeley, Stanford University, Columbia University, Caltech and the Joint Berkeley/Columbia Executive MBA program. The workshop, called, Lean LaunchPad Educators, will be held from June 18 – 20 in the Bay Area. There’s one slated for the East Coast in late September as well. These tend to sell out, so make your favorite faculty person aware. There may be opportunities for Student Ambassadors to attend future versions of this workshop. If you’re a Student Ambassador interested in this opportunity, let me know.
Read Steve’s blog post and access the HBR article here.
When Hell Froze Over – in the Harvard Business Review.
~ Humera Fasihuddin, @ihumera
Manager of Student Programming, NCIIA
Your opportunities for employment post-graduation are directly correlated with the fields you pursue and the activities in which you are engaged.
Infographic: Which College Majors Lead To Higher Employment, Unemployment?
Should I bother getting a college education? If this is what you are asking yourself, I suggest you re-frame the question. Ask yourself instead, “Should I bother going to college to pursue a degree that isn’t in demand?” If employment isn’t your primary concern, go for it! But, if your goal is to pay down the debt you’ll generate and pursue a field you love then there is a basic phenomenon of supply and demand at play. The article “Infographic: Which College Majors Lead To Higher Employment, Unemployment?” published by mindflash.com illustrates this beautifully.
Engineering + Art = Employment
Over half of the top 15 majors with gainful employment have the words Engineering, Science or Technology in them. These are tough disciplines requiring a strong command of math and science. You’ll be working your butt off, but the payoff is gainful employment because that’s where there’s the most growth in U.S. jobs. Of course you can go to college to pursue some deep love or passion for clinical psychology or fine arts… but don’t expect you’ll be employed. Unless you’re the BEST in your field and pursue the highest training in those fields, the demand just isn’t there. However, there is one big caveat. Add fine arts to engineering and design, be it through your major, student project experience or by serving on a cross-functional team …and chances are you’ll have to beat back employers with a stick.
Greg Wilson, Chief Student Ambassador, University of Georgia
Companies, small and large, are desperate for people who have strong technical domain expertise that can be made relevant to society with arts and humanities. The US economy needs innovation now more than ever and it’s the bringing together of previously disparate and siloed disciplines that holds the most promise for innovation. There are numerous programs helping students bring these disciplines together, like California Art Center for Design, Pratt School of Design and programs like ArtX, at University of Georgia which happens to be where we are training a new Student Ambassador, Gregory Wilson (twitter), and are aggressively recruiting fellow student ambassadors and reach lots more UGA students. Student Ambassadors help expose peers to invention, innovation and design through events, programs and courses. Participation in these activities expose a broader swath of students on campus to the resources on campus, experiences and learning that can better prepare students for the innovation economy.
ArtX Program, University of Georgia
If you don’t have a program like this or a Student Ambassador effort at your campus, apply today to get one started. You can also pursue independent studies to try and combine your love and passion of not-so-employable fields with the hard sciences by working with our Student Ambassadors.
~Humera Fasihuddin, @ihumera
Manager of Student Programming, NCIIA
Trish Compas-Markman, Engineering Innovator and Founder of DayOne Response highlighted in Clinton’s Huffington Post article.
In an excellent piece released today on Huffington Post, Chelsea Clinton articulates the reasons why the time is now for gender equality in STEM. We need to better harness the curiosity, imagination and inventive spirit of the other half of the globe’s population. Until we do, we are sub-optimum at a time when the world’s problems beg for creative solutions.
Among the reasons cited, Clinton tells the story of a 2009 NCIIA grantee, receiving $20,000 to give DayOne Response it’s early start at CalPoly. Clinton writes, “In 2008, Tricia Compas-Markman, who went on to earn a Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering at California Polytechnic State University in 2009, received an Outstanding Commitment Award from CGI U for her now-patented invention, the DayOne Waterbag. Tricia invented the personal water treatment device — which provides collection, treatment, transport, and storage all in one lightweight unit — in order to prevent waterborne diseases in developing nations prone to natural disaster, such as Thailand, Nicaragua, and Haiti. For her invention, Tricia won first place in her university’s Ray Scherr Business Plan Competition, the Creativity Foundation’s Legacy Prize, and the Outstanding Young Person’s award in Japan for social innovation. Her example inspired other students, including young woman, to imagine, to invent, to innovate — and helped underscore why STEM is so often vital to translating ideas into solutions.”
I urge Student Ambassadors, in specific, and University leaders in general to read the article on the Huffington Post site and think of ways to attract more women to their STEM programs as they cultivate the next generation of innovators.
Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming