Welcome. My name is Chell Roberts the Executive Dean of the College of Technology (CTI) and Innovation at Arizona State University. CTI is home to over 3,000 students who are participating in a new model in higher education. I want to take the time today to tell you a bit about CTI, our role in the massively evolving world of technology innovation, and to share a bit of my story. Let’s start with what we know.
15 seconds We we look at what’s ahead for our world, the writing is in fact on the wall: Population growth will expand faster in the next X years than it has in the past X years . Worldwide, X number of people will enter what we broadly refer to as the middle class. All these new people will have needs and they will have wants. We will need more food than we’ve ever produced, more transportations options, more clean water, and broader access to quality education. This is what we know.
15 Seconds We haven’t always done well with things we know are coming. Take climate change. The writing is on the wall, but we have not completely embraced the fact that we need to take control now and innovate with the tools that we have at our disposal right now.
15 Seconds I can speak to the dire need to make rapid change personally. For me it was in a life and death situation. I was a passenger on TWA Flight 841 in 1979. Around 10pm the aircraft went into a spiral dive. We fell about 34 thousand feet in a minute and crossed the Mach limit for 727s.
15 Seconds At about 5 thousand feet from the ground the pilot finally righted the plane and we safely landed with 82 passengers and 7 crew members all surviving. We were literally 5 seconds away from fatally crashing.
15 seconds During the spiral dive, the pilots assessed the reality in front of them (which was changing by the second) and made the adjustments needed to safely land the plane. I’ve shared this story with you because as I’ve reflected on this experience over the past 33 years, it’s become a lesson for me about life and my work. While we cannot predict when change will come, we can prepare ourselves to innovate so that when change does come, we are driving the change.
15 seconds This is what’s going on at CTI. We’re preparing our students for what’s ahead in new, innovative ways. It’s a new model of higher education that people aren’t used to but we’re convinced that it’s the future of college. We are not taking the traditional approach. From freshman year forward, our students are working on things that matter. They aren’t working on contrived projects in a controlled environment. We are asking them to contribute now and by doing so we are preparing them for the unknown.
15 seconds We are committed to this idea and we are constantly looking for ways of expanding our commitment to innovation. For example, we just announced two new classes – Make Your Ideas Happen and Make Your Ideas Grow. These courses are open to any ASU student, regardless of discipline, campus or college. The class’ main objective is to encourage entrepreneurship at a young age and prepare students to be globally competitive. The course will take a student idea from inception to execution to literally show our students how to innovate through technology.
15 seconds I’ve mentioned hands-on projects and it’s our main differentiator from other traditional programs. A great example of this is iProjects…
15 seconds Here’s how they work. CTI students collaborate with industry and community partners to help them solve a problem. This program is an integral part of our project spine at CTI that gives our students skills in the areas of teamwork, communication and collaboration. We connect students with faculty mentors and industry partners to solve real-world challenges.
15 seconds This is a photo of one of our recent iProjects in action. The student team, comprised of students from many diverse disciplines collaborated to created a vacuum-powered one-man climbing system as part of a competition hosted by the Air Force Research Laboratory. It can hold more than 3000 pounds and it will enhance the ability of combat soldiers to navigate urban battlefields.
15 seconds Here’s a more local iProjects example… our students do everything from wall scaling devices to poop powered park lights. Yes, you heard that right. The City of Gilbert (our neighboring City) came to us looking for a solution to effectively eliminate dog waste at their nationally recognized Cosmos Dog Park. Our students created the dog waste digester. This innovative solution uses dog waste to power solar lights that illuminate the park.
15 seconds Our commitment to exciting partnerships that make programs like iProjects succeed continues to grow. We’ve recently partnered with Intel to offer engineering degree for some of Intel’s Arizona-based employees. The program is based on CTI’s modular, project-based curriculum and upon completion will provide a Bachelor of Science in engineering degree from ASU, with a focus in materials science.
15 seconds Another example is Techshop. Techshop is the physical embodiment of the Maker Movement, providing inventors and hobbyists with workspace, community and tools – including welding stations, plasma cutters, hand tools and 3D printers – needed to make just about anything. The facilities operate on a membership model similar to health clubs, with monthly or annual fees covering unlimited access to equipment on a drop-in basis.
15 seconds Our bold experiment in higher education is working. We know it’s working because we are attracting more talent in our student body. We know it because the National Academy of Engineering just named iProjects at CTI one of ONLY 29 engineering programs at colleges and universities across the United States that effectively incorporate real world experiences into their curriculum.
15 seconds The progress we have made over the past decade at CTI originates in Arizona State University’s commitment to becoming a New American University. We are driven by a belief that college should continue to evolve and that we should continually strive for excellence, access and impact.
15 seconds To put it that more plainly, we’re attempting to change the world at the College of Technology & Innovation. Our contribution to the future may represent just a small percentage of what’s needed to transform the world, but we believe the real-world experience we provide our students will prepare them be the change agents our world truly needs. Thank you.
Chell Roberts, Ph.D.Executive DeanArizona State UniversityCollege of Technology & Innovation