Innovation Jam draws 30-plus students

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More than 30 Southern Oregon University and Rogue Community College students gathered at CraterWorks Makerspace on Saturday, Nov. 4, for the second annual Southern Oregon Innovation Jam.

Students participated in design thinking exercises, created big ideas to solve local problems and pitched solutions, while local business professionals and entrepreneurs were on hand to guide students in their processes, give feedback and mentor student teams.

Some of the big ideas discussed at this year’s Innovation Jam included a new take on local community housing and food resources, and a large community event in Ashland. The winner of the competition was Boom TV – a pre-loaded, iPad-like device designed to help the elderly with technology.

Students wrapped up the event by presenting their ideas for change, on the topic of “reinventing community.” They were commended by RCC President Randy Weber, SOU President Rick Bailey and Oregon State Representative Christine Goodwin.

The jam was intended to showcase the strengths of RCC and SOU, and the capabilities of students from both institutions. Their collaborative work was guided by the prototyping methodologies of Design Thinking.

Students in any major at RCC or SOU were invited to join the Central Point event, working as groups on prototypes through the day until an “educators’ huddle” at 3 p.m.

Cultural economist, consultant, journalist and U.S. Navy veteran Mike Green inspired young entrepreneurs as the keynote speaker, sharing his experiences in business start-ups, design thinking strategies and inclusive economic ecosystems. He is co-founder of three companies: ScaleUp Partners, LLC;  Common Ground Conversations on Race in America; and the National Institute for Inclusive Competitiveness.

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