I Want to Brag - About MU Students

Discussion in 'Pullman Square - Non Sports Talk' started by -Olen-, Apr 28, 2017.

  1. -Olen-

    -Olen- Gold Buffalo
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    Back in August of last year, I accepted an appointment to a one-year term contract for an instructor's position within the Lewis College of Business, predominantly focused on entrepreneurship. In addition, I maintain my private legal practice (the IP stuff).

    Related to this, as many know, current Intuit CEO Brad Smith is a native of Kenova and a 1986 Marshall Univ. graduate. Several months ago, the seed of an idea was planted, and in about 60 days, a challenge was created. On Wednesday evening, on the campus of Marshall Univ., that challenge culminated in an impressive display of creativity, innovation, team work, customer engagement and empathy, and a renewed hope that some or many of these ideas will reverse the trends in drug abuse and declining or underfunded educational opportunities.

    The challenge was labeled "Innovating for Change" - using Intuit's "Design for Delight" innovation technique (a derivate of the rapid design/prototyping/testing and learning that was originally pioneered by David Kelly through Stanford's Business School). Three grand challenges were developed: early childhood education; STEM education; and substance abuse.

    In January, faculty across the Marshall Univ. campus began to identify those extraordinary students that could represent their colleges in this event. In the end, the Colleges of Business, Liberal Arts, Engineering, Science, Education, and Arts/Media identified 39 students (and 14 faculty members) to participate. I was fortunate to share the faculty/coach position with an extraordinary Professor of English, Kristen Lillvis. Several of my colleagues in the College of Business served as coaches for other teams.

    The students and faculty were divided into 7 teams; 2 teams were tasked with youth education; 2 teams were given STEM education; and 3 teams were assigned substance abuse. Intuit team members came to Marshall University's Foundation Hall, and over the course of two days "taught" the Intuit D4D (design for delight) methodology. From there, relevant guests were provided so that the teams could conduct interviews and collect information/data, and then be able to quickly modify and adapt the proposed solution. This iteration process was repeated multiple times. After the initial two-day bootcamp and interfacing with guests, the Intuit team left town, and the Marshall Univ. folks were left to implement and grapple with these problems.

    On Wed., the seven teams presented the assigned problem, the hypothesized solution, and the journey between original proposals to the final proposal, presented in a five-minute window to a celebrity panel of judges: CEO Brad Smith; MU HOF QB Chad Pennington; and Charleston native and actress Jennifer Garner.

    EACH team did an outstanding job of following the technique - and the judges admittedly had a difficult decision before them. Yet, in the end, the judges selected three teams that they considered the furthest along. The teams selected will fly to California in late June to visit with teams at Google, Apple, Facebook, and of course, experience this same technique used at Intuit. There is every reason to believe that these teams are going to get additional support to launch these ideas. My team was approached AFTER rehearsal (two hours before the show) to get in touch with a virtual reality firm in Virginia that is interested in a partnership.

    Attached is a video and link to give you a sense of the scale and production. If you know anyone that went, you should ask them to describe this environment and the demonstration that they witnessed. Impressive is not quite strong enough to convey the reality of what those students did in a short window of time.

    More simply stated: Intuit personnel, from Brad Smith to their honored leadership winners were BLOWN AWAY by how awesome Marshall Univ. students performed. It was incredible.

    I am proud of our students and our community. And there is great potential in many of the ideas pitched. I look forward to seeing these students take these ideas further and to see them blossom.
    Be proud, MU alums -- we have some wonderfully talented students. We simply need more.

    http://www.wsaz.com/content/news/Marshall-students--420562433.html

    http://www.herald-dispatch.com/news...cle_ab5ca2c7-7622-5624-ad2d-6ccaa1230e75.html
     
  2. herdfan429

    herdfan429 Platinum Buffalo
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    Awesome story and a even better opportunity and experience for those kids.
     
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  3. Chris McLaughlin

    Chris McLaughlin Grammar Snob
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    We're lucky to have you at MU, @-Olen-

    Good stuff!
     
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  4. raleighherdfan

    raleighherdfan Platinum Buffalo
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    Great opportunity Olen. Also fortunate to have Brad Smith as an alum.
     
  5. -Olen-

    -Olen- Gold Buffalo
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    Brad Smith is an incredible leader, person, and alum. The passion that he has for all things is palpable. You could feel it in the Performing Arts Center on Wednesday; and he was as proud as a peacock over his university and its students rising to this challenge. The number of times he choked-up with pride - anyone that can't rally that kind of leader must have something wrong with him/her.

    Still on cloud 9 from this experience. And you know you have been part of something extraordinary when some of the really, really good students that we tried to convince to be part of it (and opted not to because of schedules, etc.) were openly gushing about the experience they observed while noting the regret they have for not taking part.

    Finally, almost like a proud parent, I cannot praise the young men and women on our (Kristen/mine) team enough. Some of the concepts I try to teach in these entrepreneurship courses will in full effect: team formation; team dynamics; problem solving; rapid iteration/failure/learning; listening to the consumer/user. Esp. the team dynamics - taking five strong student personalities (and two professors) and melding that into a team that finds its individual roles and rowing in the same direction: many businesses fail for lack of chemistry/dynamics. These young men and women made it work, including through some difficult time constraints, class schedules, and even some unexpected emergencies. As cynical as most educators are (at least at times) because students can be horribly frustrating, these experiences are a reminder: this is why education is important, why it is worth it, and experiences like this are the opportunities we need to find so we can see the cream rise to the top.

    Thanks for reading this stuff, folks. As much as I would like to take credit for much of the event and the team's success, events like this do not successfully launch and conclude without a lot of important persons doing a lot of heavy lifting - my role was small by comparison. I cannot sing the praises of the Intuit folks (esp. Melissa Sisk, Jeff Zias, and Marshall Un. alum and ray-of-sunshine Izzy Rogner), the leadership of Pres. Gilbert and LCOB Dean Robert Simpson, and my friend and colleague Dr. Ben Eng. Talk about hard work and dedication - Benny was the most important point-of-contact on the MU end for much of the planning and implementation. If you know or ever meet Ben, you should give him a few props for this. His modesty will try to deflect that praise to others - but be sure, Ben deserves a lot of praise and thanks.

    Be proud folks - as frustrating as our alma mater (and the current generation of students) can be, in combination at times, these are the shining moments that should make us all proud.
     
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  6. -Olen-

    -Olen- Gold Buffalo
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    Thanks; but I think I'm the lucky one I just didn't fully realize it until this week. Fortunate to be a small part of the Lewis College of Business and Marshall University.
     
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  7. Herd In the Plains

    Herd In the Plains Platinum Buffalo
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    Thank you Olen. Something this important may not come on the radar without you bringing it here.
     

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