Innovation forum series launches next week

With the Student Innovation Center finally in use this fall, multiple innovation initiatives also are launching, said Karen Kerns, entrepreneur in residence.

One of those is a virtual innovators forum, tagged What IF, that opens Friday, Sept. 11 (noon-1:30 p.m.), and continues every week through the last Friday of the semester, Nov. 20. The moderated sessions will be hosted on Webex Events for the broader university community and registration is required.

Kerns said the series, for whom students are the intended primary audience, is designed to "give them access to something no one else has and accelerate their competitiveness."

President Wendy Wintersteen, Student Innovation Center director Jim Oliver and ISU Research Park president Rick Sanders will open the series Sept. 11. Other guests this fall include:

  • Rowena Crosbie, president of Tero International, Des Moines, co-author of "Your Invisible Toolbox" and co-host of the YouTube TV show by the same name, Sept. 25
  • Alumnus Dennis Muilenberg, owner, president and CEO of DAM CyFly Consulting, and former chairman, president and CEO of the Boeing Corp., Oct. 23
  • Alumnus David Slump, president of Harman International, Stamford, Connecticut, a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics, Nov. 6

Kerns said they're conversations with leaders whose innovation experiences are vastly different in scope and scale. In addition to their personal stories, she said they've been asked to share their perspectives on the role of innovation in social and economic progress.

The series always was planned for online, Kerns said, because she wants to tap some of the world's leading innovators, regardless of where they are.

"Even before the pandemic, we weren't going to fly people here from Thailand. So, we needed to open a portal between our university and the world," she said. "This series is a permeable membrane between the two. It makes us Iowa State Universe instead of Iowa State University."