Good Morning Friends, In a world where ignorance and stupidity seem to be winning -- yesterday I got a shot of optimism that I thought i'd share.
This fall I'm teaching Innovation Engineering at the University of Maine. The three stories below happened today.
OPTIMISM #1: The incredible day started with the image on the right. This is of two different types of chocolate energy bars. They were being tested with classes - students tried both - then put their tooth pick in the paper cup near the one they felt best.
The student who created them - is on his way to market. He's found a manufacturer. He's talked some stores into carrying it - and is going to Vegas this week to pitch more at a trade show..... HOW COOL IS THAT!
OPTIMISM #2: Then -- a short while later I saw the bike you see at the right.
It's a bike built by Vickie who does Marketing Communications for the Engineering School. She's NOT an engineer.
For reasons that know one knows but her - she built a bike from parts she sourced - that goes 47 miles an hour powered by batteries between the seat and handlebars. She was pulled over by the Police Recently - because they couldn't believe what they were saying.
She's thinking of selling kits to others can make them.
OPTIMISM #3: On my way to the Student Union for Lunch - a student in another Innovation Engineering class that I'm not teaching stopped me to talk. He said "I've decided that I'm going to reinvent rubber stamps. I've been looking at them at the library -- every desk has like four of them -- and they don't work great. It seems that no one cares about rubber stamps. I'm going to reinvent them."
His passion for Rubber Stamps was inspiring - forget the rational mind - here was a young person is ready to do something - if not rubber stamps it will be something different. Then again - his LOVE of Rubber Stamps - might be like the LOVE of slicing ham that created The HoneyBaked Ham company !
OPTIMISM #4: A student told me that for his Capstone Engineering project he's making a Latrine - full scale - for Haiti - that turns waste water into a battery that can provide power. 60% of the cost of a waste water treatment is energy - his dream is to run waste water treatment plants off their waste.
It's been done at a bench top size - this student is making a full scale version. Catch what he said -- " I don't really know what I'm talking about because I've not been in the real world - but I can imagine things...."
OPTIMISM #5: At the end of the day I spent some hours scoring homework. We use a special portion of labs that allows for student interaction. The classes are taught in what is literally a Patent Pending approach we call PDSA Cycles to Mastery - they start with a Digital Class online, then a Lab Class on Tuesday where they hands on do it -- followed by an Application Class on Thursday where they stretch and a Reflection class at the end of the week where they THINK and write 500 words on what they learned.
The Reflections are pure gold.
I just read an impressive one - where a student wrote about her observations on various teaching systems - it's impressive and very thought provoking.
At the end she compared some of her other classes to Innovation Engineering - she wrote a line that stopped me in my tracks -- a line that shows deep insight.
There is no normal if you are trying to make something better.
It's lines like this - and ideas like those above - that give me total optimism for the future.
We are going to change the world - and change it for the better.
Remember when you were young and believed you could change the world?
Do you still dream?
If not - why not?
Today - right now - this morning reconnect with something that matters.
If you can't see it within you - go find a young person.
If you can't find one - PLEASE come join me at the Foster Center for Student Innovation at the University of Maine - Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30, 2:00 and 3:30. If you come visit I'll buy you Pats Pizza and a Beer in Orono after the day of classes. All invited!