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The University Magazine


Folding innovation, creativity into everything we do

Bill Destler

The world is moving at warp speed.

We have an extreme opportunity to make our lives and society better. Innovation and creativity are the key ingredients, with technology and the arts stirring the formula for an extraordinary future.

This is the message RIT heard from Ray Kurzweil, inventor, entrepreneur and futurist (see page 2), who kicked off our 2008-2009 Caroline Werner Gannett Project series. This is the message the university is focusing on as we believe RIT can help lead this movement to improve our lives and make the world a better place.

Faculty, staff and students have welcomed the opportunity to become a part of the innovation vision. We learned on our trip to the West Coast (story, page 10) that we must adopt a culture where we are willing to experiment and take risks. Failure is also a part of the equation that leads to new discovery.

An RIT education must prepare students to lead and participate in diverse teams that design and implement innovative solutions to vexing problems. The future health and wealth of nations will depend on ambidextrous problem solvers – professionals who are critical and creative thinkers.

So what are we doing about it?

We have many wide-ranging initiatives in the works. We are already deep in planning our second Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival. More than 400 interactive exhibits were on display during the inaugural festival in May 2008. We can’t wait to see what the campus community is thinking of for the next festival, Saturday, May 2, 2009.

In terms of curriculum, we have teams looking at ways to integrate innovation and creativity into existing curricula. We have created an Innovation Curriculum Working Group to provide broad recommendations for how innovation and creativity can be hallmarks of the RIT curriculum portfolio.

We also plan to open a new Student Innovation Center in the spring. Construction is underway on a striking circular glass 10,000-square-foot building that will serve as a showcase and workspace for innovation-related, multidisciplinary projects and activities involving all programs and disciplines at RIT. It will involve students in the entire innovation process from idea generation, to design and production, to realization and dissemination. The new center is expected to help spawn new technologies, innovative products and services, for-profit businesses and not-for-profit enterprises addressing societal challenges, and innovative works of art and scholarship. We envision the center becoming one of the most visible and dynamic symbols of innovation at RIT.

We have plenty of work ahead, but we plan on harnessing the exciting possibilities and discoveries that are in front of us.


Destler's Signature

Bill Destler