Penn State, industry highlight innovation at Industry Innovation Summit
Companies and Penn State faculty and staff came together on Feb. 17 at Innovation Park for the inaugural Industry Innovation Summit, which featured panels, speakers and educational sessions that furthered discussion about innovation in industry while facilitating connections between industry and faculty members.
The summit, hosted by the Penn State Office of Industrial Partnerships, featured industry speakers from Siemens Technology, IBM Global Business Services, KCF Technology, and Goodwill Keystone Area, who spoke on the impact that innovation has had and currently has within their companies while gaining insight into Penn State’s resources for industry partners and its student programs centered around innovation.
“From research on innovation to offering workshops and resources companies may access, we are doing a great deal of work in the innovation space,” said Geanie Umberger, associate vice president for research and director of the Office of Industrial Partnerships. “This summit brought together faculty and staff in this space, so we may connect them to companies. Beyond this summit’s programming, we will connect these companies with our core facilities and faculty to co-create the next generation of technology.”
At the heart of the event was a fireside chat with representatives of the aforementioned companies. Hosted by Senior Vice President for Research Lora Weiss, this fireside chat detailed technology and digital transformation, how universities can help companies innovate and fill gaps within the innovation space, and how advancements in 5G and other technologies will affect innovation within companies.
“Research is a continuous cycle, and we benefit from the expertise we receive from faculty and students,” said Arturo Pizano, Siemens Technology university collaborations program manager. “In return, we also can bring back to the university practical use cases or problems of importance that can help guide your research into areas of application that have real impact.”
In addition, the summit contained presentations that allowed faculty and staff to share with attending companies what they are currently doing in the innovation space. Resources and programs highlighted included the Invent Penn State initiative, the Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs (SEDTAPP), among others.
The Industry Innovation Summit also featured a presentation from Dr. Jessica Menold, assistant professor in the School of Engineering Design and the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She spoke on research’s relationship to innovation and how faculty can translate this research into actionable ways to assist companies and society.
“If we want to increase innovative outputs within companies, we need to start by up-skilling and training the humans who make up our workforce. This is where universities step in,” Menold said. “As innovation and design researchers, we need to translate empirical findings into validated methods and tools that can practically support innovative output in industry. This translation absolutely hinges upon active collaboration between industry and academia.”
About the Office of Industrial Partnerships
The Office of Industrial Partnerships (OIP) was formed in 2014 as part of a broader strategic initiative at the Pennsylvania State University to enhance both economic development and student career success. The office consists of three organizations, Corporate Engagement Center, Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP), and Innovation Park, which support building strategic win-win partnerships with industry.