Episode 31: Kim Huston, Small Town Sexy

Kim Huston Quote CardDespite what many believe, you can live large in a small town. The new realization is that technology has advanced to the point where you do not need an office tower in Big City USA to do a million dollar deal when you can do that deal from Main Street USA.

Have you ever had the thought of returning to your small town roots and doing great things like own your own business or become mayor? Kim Huston speaks from experience as author of Small Town Sexy and Director of Economic Development for Bardstown, KY (named one of the best small towns in America). She will fill your head with ideas that may lure you to small town America where you can be a big fish in a small pond.

In this episode of the Innovation Update, Kim delivers her talk from IFBG entitled “Small Town Sexy.”

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Episode 30: Brian Mefford, CNX Inc.

Brian Mefford Quote CardNever before have the tools necessary for starting and building companies based on new ideas been so readily available to the masses. Previous barriers such as legal constructs and technology platforms have been widely commoditized and are now largely simplified as small costs of doing start up business.

This presentation is intended to inspire the audience to move beyond ideation to creation from the perspective of an entrepreneur and business founder. With the help of many others throughout his career, Brian Mefford has created 40+ businesses that have run the full gamut from failure to success. In his presentation, Invent Yourself a Job, you will marvel along with him at the technological advances over the last 10 years that have made it possible for companies like Instagram to go from idea to acquisition in 18 months with 16 employees, 130 million customers and a value of $1 billion.

This episode of the Innovation Update features Brian’s presentation from the inaugural IdeaFestival Bowling Green: Invent Yourself a Job.

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Episode 29: Kate Jacques, Alltech

Kate Jacques Quote CardMany of the diseases we hear about these days are zoonotic – diseases that transfer from animals to people. Of these diseases, the pathogens most frequently at fault are RNA viruses. These viruses, which include avian influenza, SARS, and HIV, have RNA instead of DNA as their genetic material.

Why zoonotic diseases? Why viruses? The answer lies in our changing relationship with animals and the mercurial nature of the RNA virus. It takes more than a microbe to cause a disease. Alltech’s Director of Nutrition Kate Jacques will look at the ways in which our exploding human population has altered the boundaries between human and animal populations and why the rapidly adaptable RNA virus is the perfect zoonotic pathogen.

This episode of the Innovation Update features Kate’s presentation from the inaugural IdeaFestival Bowling Green: People, Animals and Disease – Perils of a Crowded Planet.

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Episode 28: Chris & Andrew, Alone Down There

Chris and Andrew Quote CardToday we live in a world where funding can come from a multitude of sources: friends, family, investors, and now crowdfunding. Alone Down There was fortunate enough to have such an amazing story that supporters on Kickstarter pushed the TV pilot past its funding goals.

The production team was honest with its ideas and expectations and supporters all over the United States jumped on board for the project. That’s what makes crowdfunding unique and is just one reason Alone Down There is a special project.

In this episode of the Innovation Update, Director Chris “Booba” Young and Executive Producer Andrew Swanson will share how their project broke the mold and how they never took no for an answer in their presentation: How to Make a Big TV Pilot on a Not So Big Budget.

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IdeaFestival Bowling Green Photos

Photo by Bryan Lemon
Photo by Bryan Lemon

The theme of IFBG in 2014 was “Creativity and Innovation.” The nine session speakers were all superb examples of the innovation that is happening in Kentucky. Speakers from Hitcents, Fruit of the Loom, Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Alltech, Connected Nation, and Kentucky Space addressed topics from product innovation to satellite design to economic collaboration.

Dana Bowers, founder of iPay Technologies, explored her entrepreneurial journey and urged the dreamers in the crowd to start their own businesses.

Chris Young and Andrew Swanson, the director and executive producer, respectively, of a Kickstarter-funded TV pilot called Alone Down There, explained how a TV show gets made in 2014.

Kim Huston, author of Small Town Sexy, touched on the movement back toward smaller towns like Bardstown, KY, which was named the “Most Beautiful Small Town in America” by USA Today and Rand McNally.

The keynote speaker was Bill Capodagli, who presented Dreams and Dreamers: How to Innovate Like Walt Disney and the Pixarians.

Photos from IdeaFestival Bowling Green can be seen below.

Episode 27: Joe Tudor, Hitcents

Joe Tudor Quote CardHis school teachers may hate to hear it, but Hitcents’ Art Director, Joe Tudor, believes his habit of daydreaming helped him land the perfect job. In fact, he claims dreams are the foundation of the company’s success.

In an industry that demands an excess of new ideas, Joe explains how Hitcents stays ahead of the curve while keeping a steady drive of passion behind their work. Learn how the company’s self-described team of “nerds and creative thinkers” put it all together by building from the dream up.

This episode of the Innovation Update features Joe’s presentation from the inaugural IdeaFestival Bowling Green: Building from the Dream Up.

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PNC Foundation Makes $150,000 Grant to Innovate Kentucky

When a challenge is made, WKU is never one to shy away. The University is now one step closer to fulfilling a challenge grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation, thanks to PNC Foundation’s generosity and commitment to education.

The PNC Foundation, through its Grow Up Great program, has awarded WKU a $150,000 grant to support Innovate Kentucky and early childhood education. “PNC offers leadership, advocacy, funding, volunteers and educational resources because we believe that an investment in our children now makes good economic sense and plants the seeds for the dynamic workforce of tomorrow,” said Chuck Denny, Regional President of PNC Bank, Louisville. (WKU photo by Bryan Lemon)
The PNC Foundation, through its Grow Up Great program, has awarded WKU a $150,000 grant to support Innovate Kentucky and early childhood education. “PNC offers leadership, advocacy, funding, volunteers and educational resources because we believe that an investment in our children now makes good economic sense and plants the seeds for the dynamic workforce of tomorrow,” said Chuck Denny, Regional President of PNC Bank, Louisville. (WKU photo by Bryan Lemon)

The PNC Foundation, through its Grow Up Great program, has awarded WKU a $150,000 grant to support Innovate Kentucky and early childhood education. Founded by The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., PNC Grow Up Great and PNC Crezca con Éxito form a bilingual, $350 million, multi-year initiative that began in 2004 to help prepare children – particularly underserved children – from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.

“PNC offers leadership, advocacy, funding, volunteers and educational resources because we believe that an investment in our children now makes good economic sense and plants the seeds for the dynamic workforce of tomorrow,” said Chuck Denny, Regional President of PNC Bank, Louisville.

Through Grow Up Great, PNC emphasizes the importance of the first five years of life, which research has shown are critical to long-term achievement, by helping families, educators and community partners provide innovative opportunities that enhance learning and development in a child’s early years.

“Since the inception of Grow Up Great, approximately 1.5 million at-risk preschool children have been served through grants and innovative programs emphasizing math, science, the arts and financial education for young children,” Denny said.

“Getting a good start is the key to doing well in school,” said Dr. Julia Roberts, Executive Director of The Center for Gifted Studies and the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky.

Innovate Kentucky, a partnership of The Center for Gifted Studies, the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky, the WKU Honors College and the WKU Innovation Center, seeks to inspire students of all ages to get involved with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), but thus far its programming has been aimed at students elementary school age and older. Now the initiative has identified an opportunity to reach children at an even earlier age through the Grow Up Great program.

“The importance is highlighted by the name of PNC Bank’s project title – Grow Up Great,” Dr. Roberts said. “Today there is a major focus on the education of young children.”

Innovate Kentucky is built on the premise that an enthusiasm for the STEM disciplines and the development of an innovative mindset must begin well before the age of 5. Parents and educators must develop a child’s creativity through hands-on, minds-on activities that also encourage the child to be curious about the world around them. Through the PNC grant, The Center for Gifted Studies will develop videos that can be used by parents and educators as guidance in working with their children to develop higher level thinking.

“The future of America’s job marketplace will be defined by STEM,” Denny said. “Kentucky has not risen to the challenge of producing the qualified individuals need to embrace that future.”

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Representatives of WKU and PNC, including Dr. Gary Ransdell, Dr. Julia Roberts and Chuck Denny, got together for a group photo after the Jan. 15 grant announcement. (WKU photo by Bryan Lemon)

Kentucky alone will need to fill 74,000 STEM jobs by 2018, yet only 12 percent of the bachelor’s degrees conferred in the state are in STEM fields. The Department of Early Education and Care’s 2011 report STEM Education and EEC’s Educator Provider Support System states that early exposure to STEM supports children’s overall academic growth, develops early critical thinking and reasoning skills and enhances later interest in STEM study and careers.

“Incorporating STEM in early childhood education and out of school-time settings taps into children’s natural curiosity and sense of wonder,” Denny said. “STEM education broadens children’s experiences and understanding of the human-made and natural world around them.”

Innovate Kentucky’s goal is to increase the awareness of the importance of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. Innovate Kentucky has sponsored classes at VAMPY (a three-week summer program for middle and high school students) that focus on problem solving and creative/critical thinking. Innovate Kentucky has also sponsored a Winter term colloquium on entrepreneurship for students at the Gatton Academy and the Honors College.

Another initiative, IdeaFestival Bowling Green, will be held Feb. 28. “The focus of this day is that it is all about ideas,” Dr. Roberts said. Nine speakers will present for 20 minutes each with opportunities for the audience to ask questions.  One keynote speaker from Disney and Pixar will speak about creativity and innovation.

“PNC Grow Up Great is an investment in the future,” Denny said. “Extensive research indicates that the returns on investments in high-quality early education and school readiness initiatives are significant and long lasting – impacting our children, our society and the health of our economy for generations to come.”

Innovate Kentucky has also launched a public relations campaign that includes a website containing videos and other content, such as career prospects within STEM disciplines and STEM lesson plans for teachers at any grade level. The Innovate Kentucky brand will continue to be promoted through social media channels, a billboard campaign and community-based sessions to better establish a culture that values innovation and STEM.

The grant from PNC is helping meet the match for the $500,000 challenge grant the James Graham Brown Foundation made in 2011 for Innovate Kentucky.

IdeaFestival Bowling Green Promises Creativity and Innovation

IFBG LogoCreativity and innovation will be on display February 28 at the Downing Student Union Auditorium as Innovate Kentucky hosts the inaugural IdeaFestival Bowling Green. The one-day festival features nine of Kentucky’s brightest innovators plus keynote speaker Bill Capodagli, who will present Dreams and Dreamers: How to Innovate Like Walt Disney and the Pixarians.

“From the beginning Innovate Kentucky has wanted to host a speaker series on WKU’s campus,” said Josh Raymer, Executive Administrator of Innovate Kentucky. “When we found out IdeaFestival was looking to expand across Kentucky, we saw a chance to merge two goals into an exciting new event that showcases Kentucky’s innovation.”

IdeaFestival is held annually in Louisville and is described as “a celebration for the intellectually curious.” National thought-leaders from a wide range of disciplines speak to sold-out crowds during the three-day event. IdeaFestival branched out in 2013 with IF Lexington, a two-day event that led to the creation of IdeaFestival Bowling Green.

Kris Kimel, president of the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation and the founder of IdeaFestival, said the theme of IFBG is relevant now more than it’s ever been.  “IF Bowling Green is delving even deeper into the IdeaFestival mantra of Stay Curious though its twin themes of creativity and innovation, elements that are the new currency for success regardless of ‘what you do,’” he explained.

Creativity and innovation can be found in the behind-the-scenes magic at Pixar, which is the focus of the keynote presentation. Dreams and Dreamers is described as “a tour of the most innovative, creative organization in the world. You’ll learn how to look at the world through a child’s eyes, how to believe in your team, how to jump in and try something different, how to create your own corporate playground, and more.”

The nine session speakers are all superb examples of the innovation that is happening in Kentucky. Speakers from Hitcents, Fruit of the Loom, Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Alltech, Connected Nation, and Kentucky Space will address topics from product innovation to satellite design to economic collaboration. Dana Bowers, founder of iPay Technologies, will explore her entrepreneurial journey and urge the dreamers in the crowd to start their own businesses. Chris Young and Andrew Swanson are the director and executive producer, respectively, of a Kickstarter-funded TV pilot called Alone Down There and will explain how a TV show gets made in 2014. Kim Huston, author of Small Town Sexy, will touch on the movement back toward smaller towns like Bardstown, KY, which was named the “Most Beautiful Small Town in America” by USA Today and Rand McNally.

The festival will have several interactive features, including question and answer panels at the end of each session where participants can tweet or text questions and a large mural created by artist Andee Rudloff that will evolve throughout the day with help from audience members. WKU Forensics team members will serve as emcees for IFBG.

“Ideas galore!” said Julia Roberts, executive director of The Center for Gifted Studies. “Don’t miss IdeaFestival Bowling Green. In fact, we hope it is a new tradition for you.”

Festival passes are $10 for students and $20 for the general public. For more information visit www.ideafestivalbg.com.

Episode 26: IdeaFestival Bowling Green

podcast featured imageCreativity and innovation is the theme of IdeaFestival Bowling Green (IFBG), a one-day speaker series that will take place Friday, February 28 at the Downing Student Union on WKU’s campus from 8:30 am – 4:15 pm. Sponsored by Innovate Kentucky, IFBG will spotlight innovation happening in Kentucky with nine speakers from organizations such as Hitcents, Alltech, SKyPAC, Kentucky Space, Fruit of the Loom, and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Other speakers include noted author Kim Huston, who’ll be speaking on the movement back toward small towns, and Dana Bowers, the only female member of the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame and founder of iPay Technologies. In this episode of the Innovation Update, Josh is interviewed by Zack Ryle of The Center for Gifted Studies about IFBG.

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VAMPY 2013: STEAM Labs Photos

STEAM Labs was taught by Nielsen Pereira at VAMPY 2013. Here’s how the class was described on the VAMPY website:

People around the world now design and build Rube Goldberg®-style machines to satisfy society’s fascination with the creative contraptions. Apply the engineering design process to construct STEAM Machines™ (chain reaction machines that run on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math concepts) using everyday objects and technology such as motors, sensors, and micro-controllers. You will learn real-world engineering skills, gain experience with systems thinking and multi-team collaboration, and start exploring pathways to better understand careers in engineering.

Photos from the class can be seen below.