Slow innovation: Ilya Avdeev & Nathaniel Stern at TEDxHarambee

How do we get from point A to point B, in the fastest way possible? It seems this is the shape of almost every question we hear today. Answers are valued above all else, questions are a close second, and very little else matters. But innovation requires time, space, and a willingness to try and fail, with crazy and sometimes impossible ideas. Ilya Avdeev and Nathaniel Stern  talk about how to teach, model and facilitate innovation through practices that seem counterproductive, but almost always succeed: play a lot, move very slowly, and don’t build anything until the very end.

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UWM Spotlight on Excellence: Student Startup Challenge

The Student Startup Challenge is an innovative competition energizing the entrepreneurial spirit at UWM by awarding student teams $10,000 each for promising product ideas.

In this video, meet the first three teams to win the cash. Watch as their products (a 3D scanner, mobile parking app, and “clever blocks”) become reality.

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Dr. Stern is Co-Director and Co-Founder of the UWM Student Startup Challenge, a co-curricular, university-wide program that teaches entrepreneurial skill sets through hands-on approaches to brainstorming, customer discovery processes, prototype development, and the business model canvas, among other art, design, and engineering tools. As one of two core faculty members at the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center, he continuously works with his colleagues on new programming, strategic planning, and ongoing research, teaching, and service, while mentoring more than two dozen student teams each year, and providing workshops, lectures, and coursework for our National Science Foundation-funded I-Corps site and Ideas Challenge courses, among other platforms.

Startup Challenge Launch. From left to right: Dr Ilya Avdeev (Mechanical Engineering), Chancellor Mike Lovell (UWM), President Brian Thompson (UWM Research Foundation), Prof Frankie Flood (Art and Design), and Dr Nathaniel Stern (Art and Design)In addition to a degree in art and design (Cornell University), Nathaniel Stern holds a Masters of Professional Studies in Interactive Telecommunications (ITP, New York University), and a PhD from an Electronic and Electrical Engineering Department (Trinity College Dublin). He has also worked as a designer, consultant, and/or coder at and with hi-tech companies in New York, San Francisco, Milwaukee, and Johannesburg. He has been lead, mentor and/or Co-PI in several state-wide and national engineering and entrepreneurship grants, including three projects through the National Science Foundation, and work with Stanford and Venturewell. In short, Stern “speaks” business and engineering, with a sensitivity to the relationships between culture and industry – how the latter support and mobilize each other, in both the short- and long-term. Stern’s expertise have helped businesses come up with new products and ideas, grow or invest in new areas, and build new prototypes for testing.

In his time as a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Stern has also consulted on and supported projects at Rexnord, Rockwell, TAPCO, Johnson Controls, GE Medical, Aurora Health Care, the Medical College of Wisconsin, DRS Power and Control, the Wisconsin Department of Traffic, and more; he has helped to place students at startups, engineering and market-based companies, museums and galleries, and consulting and design firms, across the country; and through his efforts at the Lubar EntrepreneurshipCenter, he continues to fund and advise several new companies in the Milwaukee area every year. For Stern, this work is completely in line with the work he does in the arts and humanities, the latter including performances and exhibitions worldwide, academic and mainstream writing, and other diverse activities that might manifest as, for example, empowerment workshops for HIV-positive township teens in South Africa, Fulbright-funded writing seminars for postgraduates in design, or one-on-one mentoring for local artists through the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network. In all, he creates fertile ground through investment in advanced research and human resources, which in turn makes for ingenuity and opportunity across the culture and industry ecosystem.

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or Academic Curriculum Vitae (10 pages)