GE Innovation
Student interns at GE Inspection Technologies

“The ability to creatively combine and apply various bodies of knowledge in new and more powerful ways is becoming of greater and greater significance. In other words, it’s not just about knowledge, but about what you do with it.”

I shared this insight by innovation consultant Todd Johnston in a recent blog, “Who Designs the Future,” after I discovered the quote in an Forbes article written by Victor W. Hwang. Johnston and Hwang, both based on the West Coast, offered kind words of support when I requested permission to feature them in my blog.

Across the nation, great minds are thinking about the role purposeful, practical innovation plays in creating new business opportunities and encouraging personal, economic and social growth. It is important that everyone embrace the idea that we all are in positions to lead innovation.

Knowledge originates outside of “think tanks” and corporate research and development departments. Creativity is not held exclusively by artists; it’s an option anyone can choose.  People who do things – in every type of art, craft and industry imaginable – turn ideas into action every day.

Industry experts gather at Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Plastics Innovation and Resource Center

Pennsylvania College of Technology – ranked as one of the top public baccalaureate colleges in the north region by America’s Best Colleges (and producer of the Working Class TV series) – recently introduced a new program to prepare its graduates to be leaders of change.

Penn College is the first college in Pennsylvania – and one of just a few across the nation – to offer Innovation Leadership as part of the academic curriculum. The program is based on the continuous improvement principles of W. Edwards Deming, who is often credited with helping to rebuild Japan’s economy after World War II.

Baccalaureate students may enroll in an Innovation Leadership minor; associate degree students and the public may enroll in a 12-credit professional certificate offering.

Physician Assistant
Physician assistant students learn to use their heads, hands, and hearts

Bill Mack, special assistant to the provost at Penn College, said the program is appropriate to any field of study and is ideal for Penn College students who are already developing unique products and processes as part of their senior projects.

“I can picture students graduating and setting the world on fire,” Mack said. “They have the technical skills they’re being hired for, but now they’ll also have innovation skills to help companies apply those techniques to new processes.”

With an overall graduate placement rate (three-year average) of 94.5 percent and a 100-year history of aligning its educational offerings with real workforce needs, Penn College has earned a reputation for offering “degrees that work.”

Penn College NOW
Penn College NOW introduces high school students to advanced technologies

It’s time for all educators, parents, and the general public to acknowledge the dignity and personal satisfaction that comes from work. Suggesting that anyone should choose to “work with their heads and not their hands” is just a reflection of old, tired thinking. Heads and hands work together to create knowledge, innovation, new products and procedures, and – most importantly – personal satisfaction.

I am proud to be part of an organization that respects and celebrates the dignity of work and sends its graduates into the world with resumes that showcase their readiness to excel and lead innovation in the world of work.

I invite you to be inspired by Penn College student designers featured in Working Class: Dream & Do, the first episode in a new public television series produced by the college in partnership with WVIA Public Media. To learn more, please visit the Working Class website and follow Working Class on Facebook and Twitter.



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