“Do you know what my favorite renewable fuel is? An ecosystem for innovation.” —Thomas Friedman
How should innovation be defined in the twenty-first century?
Has the word become a synonym for “anything that is new” or should it be reserved for something more? Something like the portable cell phone, barcode technology, the wireless remote control, and smart electricity grids—products, processes, and systems that fundamentally change how we live, work, and even think.
Does change need to be wide-reaching for the product or process that caused it to earn the right to be called innovative? Can smaller, sometimes subtle advances in specialized fields, taken separately and together, themselves be called innovations—the necessary prerequisites that make major breakthroughs possible?
For nearly 125 years, IIT has been fueling innovation and specialized advances through the scholarship of our faculty and the accomplishments of our students and alumni. As one of Chicago’s leading research universities, we are motivated to create what does not now exist—and our graduates have a strong track record of coming up with new ideas that have changed the world. As important, they have taken these ideas to market, moving from vision to development, turning ideas from “what if” to “the here and now.”
IIT-educated engineers developed the portable cell phone, barcode technology, and the wireless remote control. IIT faculty and students are advancing smart grid technology. Many of us cannot imagine what life was like without the former devices and the next generation will not be able to imagine a world without the goal of a smart grid—“perfect power.”1
But our stories of innovations and innovators do not end here. We have many success stories, some of which we feature in this issue of IIT Magazine. And we will have many more stories to come as we continue to attract world-renowned faculty and graduate exceptionally talented students—the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, and problem solvers.
This is an exciting time to be at IIT—being with students, faculty, and alumni whose innovative spirit, knowledge, and concern for the environment and social justice will continue to create what does not now exist and improve the well-being of future generations.
IIT is indeed fueling innovation—and moving forward.
John L. Anderson
1 Perfect Power by Robert Galvin and Kurt Yeager, McGraw Hill, 2009.