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From Just Tinkering To World Changing Innovation
Speaker: Dr. Scott Evans
Director, Longhorn Maker Studios Cockrell School of Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin
Date: Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Time: 11:00 – 12:00 pm
(Refreshment will be served at 10:00 AM)
Location: Main Building- Lecture Hall B
R. Scott Evans, Ph.D., is the Director of Texas Inventionworks (TIW) in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. TIW is a program that includes acceleration of innovation, curriculum development, research support and labs that support activities from first idea to first article. Students can just show up to TIW facilities to learn or solve problems and more than 40 engineering courses (and several from other colleges) require teams of student to use the facilities to complete class projects. Dr. Evans has designed and built products and manufacturing processes in many industry sectors, created R&D programs, founded materials science startups, served as an innovation consultant to engineering companies in several countries and developed multi-disciplinary technology commercialization courses. Dr. Evans studied mechanical engineering at The University of Arizona, The Georgia Institute of Technology (researching MEMS devices) and The University of Texas (researching additive manufacturing) earning a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. respectively.
Open labs, sometimes called “maker spaces”, where teams can design, build and test have become popular at many universities. These facilities and the programs around them have taken many forms. Some are focused on supporting classes, others prioritize a more open and unstructured approach. There are also differences in terms of fabrication technologies, number of labs and whether equipment for earlier-stage prototypes or more advanced machines are available. But, the most important thing is culture. In the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin the first maker space was launched in 2014 in a converted storage room. Since then, classes have been developed in all seven departments, more electronics have been integrated across the school, and students have joined a larger number of competitions and have even developed new products. In 2017, the National Instruments Center opened, adding almost 30,000sf of lab and classroom space. Now the program, called Texas Inventionworks, is working to connect and facilitate two journeys: going from insight to innovation and moving from learning about prototyping to becoming an innovator. TIW activities include curriculum development, innovation acceleration, research engagement, broad build and test facilities and growing external network. The initial room was really a space for tinkering. It has become a program that is evolving the way that engineers (and other creative professionals) are created. Similarly, students often begin their journey by tinkering in our labs. We have watched many of them go on to create new solutions and without exaggerating, change the world.
This presentation and discussion will cover the history of the program, some great stories, the new Texas Inventionworks program and some guidance for developing this kind of innovation effort at companies and universities.
The recorded lecture can be found here