Fifth Annual Ingenuity Event Showcases Student Talent

Ingenuity 2017June 9, 2017 - Twelve student teams wowed the crowd at the fifth annual Ingenuity: UCI Student Technology Showcase, held May 31, 2017, at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center.

The annual event features top student innovations from both the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences and the Samueli School of Engineering at UC Irvine. This year’s projects ranged from an education app that aims to help prevent sex slavery and human trafficking to a medical device that identifies the type of stroke a patient is having before he or she reaches the hospital. See the full list of projects here.

“Each year, I am more and more amazed at what our students are doing,” said Gregory Washington, the Stacey Nicholas dean of engineering.

Faculty, students, industry representatives and entrepreneurs gathered to hear two-minute presentations from each of the teams, recognize Ingenuity Award winners from both schools, and hear a keynote speech from John Seely Brown, a visiting scholar at USC and consultant with Deloitte’s Center for the Edge.

Brown shared his concern about the crisis of imagination, which he believes results from our increasingly hyper-connected world. “You always hear a lot about creativity, but maybe we need to refocus more on imagination. How do we begin to see things in brand new ways? ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge,’ said Albert Einstein.

 “We need to find ways to enable the arts, humanities and sciences to fuse together, creating a new kind of alloy that takes seriously fusion, not just casual mixing,” said Brown. “A unique power of the human imagination comes from its ability to integrate opposing qualities like emotion and reason, curiosity and sanity. Can we actually create a new kind of blended ontology, a way of being, not just a way of knowing? How do we cultivate this new way of being with human and machine interfaces…at the same time creating a networked imagination?”

Washington explained the purpose of the Ingenuity Award: to recognize innovative and creative individuals in our community who have had an impact on the two schools. This year, the Samueli School honored Landon Taylor, CEO of Base 11, a nonprofit STEM workforce development and entrepreneur accelerator; and Foster Stanback, a philanthropist who supports STEM organizations. Through Base 11, both men have partnered with the Samueli School to bring low-resource, high-potential community college students to UCI to pursue STEM careers.

Both Stanback and Taylor said it was an honor to receive the Ingenuity Award. “Because it is a privilege to serve in a way where we are able to accelerate ingenuity in what we believe is our greatest asset and that is our students,” Taylor explained. “By fueling ingenuity in our students, we make certain that America continues to be a beacon of light in innovation and diversity, ensuring that students from all walks of life will have the opportunity to reach their greatest potential.”

ICS Dean Marios Papefthymiou honored Judy and Gary Olson, recently retired Donald Bren professors in informatics, and pioneers in human-computer interaction and computer-supported cooperative work. “For 30 years now, Gary and Judy have been uncovering the challenges of working together from geographically distributed locations. Both are remarkable for their collegiality, generosity and hosting amazing dinners at their house.”

In 2008, after 35 years at the University of Michigan, the Olsons came to UCI as endowed professors. “The decision we made in late 2007 to come to UCI is one of the great decisions of our career,” said Gary Olson. “The things that have happened since we’ve come have been amazingly wonderful. The people, the colleagues in our department, our school and the university, and the students we’ve taught, either formally or informally, have just had a wonderful impact on us.”

After the awards and student presentations, Washington invited the crowd to move into the courtyard for drinks and appetizers, visits to the student teams’ display tables and a chance to talk to them individually about their projects.

“Pretty cool, huh?” said Washington, who noted that Facebook, Apple, Google, Yahoo and Genentech were all started by people in their teens or 20s. “We think the next big company will come from our students.”

 – Lori Brandt