Norwich’s legacy of innovation will be showcased in April symposium

Norwich University has long been at the forefront of innovation, beginning with its visionary founder, Captain Alden Partridge. Two hundred years ago this July, Partridge’s radical views on education cost him his post as superintendent of West Point. And yet, his prescient ideas about experiential learning, educating across the disciplines, and preparing youth to “discharge, in the best possible manner, the duties they owe to themselves, to their fellow-men, and to their country,” are more relevant today than they have ever been.

These words from our own mission statement, drafted in 1843—to act as well as to think, to execute as well as to conceive—speak to the timelessness of Partridge’s conviction that the purpose of higher education is not merely to cultivate great thinkers, but to create a nation of doers, citizens equipped to solve the problems facing their country.

In honor of Partridge’s legacy of innovation, and in celebration of our bicentennial Year of Leadership, Norwich University’s Colleges of Professional Schools, Science and Mathematics, and Liberal Arts are excited to host the Making Innovation Symposium on Thursday, April 27 and Friday, April 28 in Plumley Armory.

The symposium is the culminating event of a series of six experiential learning exercises focused on the themes of leadership and innovation, in which more than 100 Norwich students took part. Called NU IDEA Design Challenges, they engaged teams of students to creatively solve real world problems. The final challenge takes place Wednesday, April 26 at 4 p.m. in Kreitzberg Library, and will be facilitated by Jonathan Speed, M’14, an entrepreneur and alumnus of our College of Graduate and Continuing Studies.

On Thursday evening, Speed will moderate a Todd Lecture in the form of a panel discussion among three renowned innovators from the fields of creative design, technological design, and design for social good. Throughout the day, these distinguished guests will visit classes across the disciplines, including Biology, Engineering, Nursing, English and Writing, and Architecture + Art, and will also connect with students affiliated with the Center for Global Resilience & Security and the Entrepreneurship Club. This is a rare opportunity to come face-to-face with some incredibly creative minds, and it is my hope that many of you will seek to engage in meaningful discourse with them.

The third component of the Symposium is a showcase of 15 select student-research projects, which opens to the public at 6 p.m. on Thursday evening and continues throughout Friday. Later, at the conclusion of the panel discussion, two awards will be presented in recognition of the students’ work, including a “People’s Choice” award. This is your chance to learn about some of the exciting research happening across campus, show your support for your fellow students, and cast your vote for your personal favorite.

As the days grow longer and we say goodbye to another long Vermont winter, I notice everyone, including me, has a slight spring in their step and seems a bit more relaxed. This is a good time to take a deep breath and gear up as we head into the home stretch. It won’t be long until finals are upon you, and you will be packing up to leave for the summer or for the next chapter in your life. Make it your goal to finish strong.

If you can manage to resist the enticement of spring fever until all your obligations are met, your delayed gratification will be rewarded tenfold.

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