Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Centennial Center welcomed students from four other area institutions to join HWS students in a day-long professional development conference on Saturday, Nov. 16.
Under the theme “Thinking, Creating, Doing,” Innovation Fest offered a series of workshops, activities and speaker events designed to address problem-solving, idea generation, pitching and presenting, strategic decision-making, creative thinking, and affecting and managing change.
Michael Rawlins ’80, P’16, HWS Trustee and Principal User Experience Design Architect at Walt Disney Company, delivered the keynote speech. He also joined his daughter, ESPN Photographer Melissa Rawlins, for a workshop titled “Inside View of an ESPN Still Photographer.”
In addition to 25 dynamic workshops facilitated by an array of faculty, staff and industry experts, participants were challenged to think creatively and step outside their comfort zones by engaging in several challenges, which included a lunchtime mini-Hackathon, an afternoon Escape Room challenge and a dinnertime Flash Pitch competition. These experiences were designed to bring innovation to life in supportive group settings.
With relevance to any academic major and many industries, Innovation Fest broke down the elements of innovation and fostered students’ ability to transfer these skills into professional goals.
Cait Finn, assistant director of leadership programs at the Centennial Center, was inspired by the student growth that she witnessed throughout the day. “The transformative experiences students had at the inaugural Innovation Fest exceeded our expectations. It was wonderful to be able to step back and watch our students network with students from other colleges, be challenged by the workshops and build connections with industry experts,” Finn says.
The Centennial Center prepares leaders and entrepreneurs to drive innovation. Through experiential education, the Centennial Center provides students and staff with the opportunities to explore leadership and entrepreneurship through the application of theoretical and practical knowledge.