Campus & Community

U.S. Secretary Chu and Bell Labs President Kim Explore Innovation During Academic Colloquium

The Academic Colloquium: Excellence Through Innovation provided a forum for discussion; With innovation as a key driver, the speakers explored the impact of technology in addressing critical issues facing society from global, organizational, educational and research perspectives.
Provost George Korfiatis opened the Colloquium in DeBaun Auditorium by welcoming attendees: “At Stevens, innovation and entrepreneurship are core values. We work hard to instill the values the Stevens family set forth when they established the University 141 years ago.”
He introduced the special guests who would serve as speakers and participants in a roundtable discussion: the Honorable Steven Chu, United States Secretary of Energy, and Dr. Jeong Kim, Executive Vice President of Alcatel-Lucent and President of Bell Labs and Corporate Strategy. Dr. Korfiatis then invited Christine Lagorio, Executive Editor of and moderator for the Colloquium to the podium.
“There is a myth that great innovators are born that way,” began Ms. Lagorio, “but during a recent interview, Clay Christensen said innovation can be taught – and that is where great universities like Stevens come in.”
Ms. Lagorio continued: “We are fortunate today to have Dr. Chu here to speak from the government perspective and Dr. Kim to speak at the business level. We’ll then hear from Professors Ron Besser and Frank Fisher who will bring everything back to the university level.”
She then introduced Dr. Nariman Farvardin, who provided remarks. “Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. You have honored me by being here today.”
“At Stevens, our engineers are devoted to creating new technologies to solve new challenges,” he stated. “There is a history of technology and innovation in our nation, but we no longer own the store of opportunity. We need a sustainable commitment to innovation and technology education to solve mounting problems.”
The Honorable Dr. Chu then took the stage to present How Innovation Had Changed the World. He said, “Innovation lies at the heart of society; Science and technology research and development lie at the heart of innovation.”
His presentation addressed innovations that changed the world in categories such as agriculture, transformative technology, information flow, transportation and energy.
“Innovation is the key to prosperity and progress,” Dr. Chu asserted. “The way to effectively advance energy technology is to look at the playbook of the past and say: ‘we can do that – better’,” he said.
He discussed the ways that the U.S. is reclaiming leadership in innovation and technology.
“We remain the most innovative country in the world, but “Invented in America” is not enough,” concluded Dr. Chu. “America has the opportunity to lead the world in clean energy technology and provide the foundation for future prosperity.”
Next up was Dr. Kim, who presented Achieving Greatness through Great Innovations.
He offered four points:
·         Great innovations satisfy great needs
·         Creating great innovations requires the right assets
·         Learning from failure is essential
·         One must be able to embrace change
Dr. Kim continued, “To succeed in great innovations, you must be able to succeed in dealing with failure. The greatest failure is not learning from your mistakes.”
He shared one of his favorite quotes, from Eric Hoffer:
In times of great change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped for a world that no longer exists.
“Academic institutions must embrace change,” Dr. Kim said. “Under Dr. Farvardin, Stevens will remain at the forefront of technology and innovation. He recognizes the importance of collaboration, change and looking ahead.”
He concluded his presentation with another quote, this one from master innovator, Leonardo da Vinci:
                Knowing is not enough; we must apply
                Being willing is not enough; we must do.
The presentations continued with Professors Ron Besser and Frank Fisher, who discussed The ongoing legacy of Energy Technology Development & Education at Stevens Institute of Technology.
Dr. Besser began: “It is traditional during times of change in an institution to look back at its foundation and reflect on its legacy. As we inaugurate our seventh president, we want to look back at Stevens’ 141 years of innovation.”
He provided a brief background of the establishment of the school and contributions of the Stevens family. Innovation was an integral part of the education from early on, evident through the University’s history of hands-on research, lab work, capstone projects, and exposure to entrepreneurship.
Dr. Fisher then explained nanotechnology and multi-scale systems. He highlighted the innovative work in this area by Stevens’ faculty, focusing on energy technology research and Seahorse Power LLC, the Stevens start-up dedicated to this. He also mentioned the recent Department of Energy grant for offshore wind energy research.
“Stevens drives innovation and entrepreneurship,” concluded Dr. Fisher. “The campus is a test bed, an incubator for energy education and innovation.”
After a roundtable discussion in which Drs. Chu and Kim offered further insight into incorporating what they presented into education and practice, the Colloquium concluded with applause.
Watch Dr. Farvardin’s Inauguration speech plus Stevens Inaugural performances by the Stevens Choir, Stevens Inauguration Orchestra and Soprano, Carmen Balthrop.
For more information please see the Stevens Presidential Inauguration site.