Last of diversity lectures teaches students innovation

For the third and final diversity lecture of the series, almost 50 students attended to learn about how innovation cannot grow without diversity.

Architecture professor Mahesh Senagala presented "Diverity = Innovation" on Monday night. Rather than focusing on diversity as a means of race, he discussed how diversity directly affects innovation.

Senagala said diversity and its effect on innovation is something important not only for students, but people as a whole to learn more about.

"Diversity is a dire necessity for us, just as innovation is a dire necessity for us today," Senagala said.

Senagala began by asking students questions about where they stand on knowledge of innovation. From there, he worked to deepen students' understandings of innovation.

As a example, he showed a picture of an iPhone lying on top of an Apple Newton PDA. Almost none of the students had heard of the Apple Newton.

Senagala said the Newton was invented in the late 1980's to early 1990's but never took off. He said the two next to each other were prime examples of invention verses innovation.

"Invention is creation of something new," Senagala said. "Innovation is taking that something new and taking it into society where it actually gains acceptance. Without diversity, it is difficult to think differently."

Senagala said it is not just about being innovative independently, but to bring each individual personality and views to the table.

Another highlight of his presentation was showing companies that are known for being innovative and how they were formed by immigration. Companies that began by immigrants that Senagala listed are Intel Corporation, Sun Microsystems, eBay Incorporated and Yahoo.

Senagala said growth of innovaton depends on emerging markets, core innovation and extreme affordability. He brought up the point that in many countries, people live on less than $2 per day.

His example of affordability affecting innovation was a product called ChotuKool. It is a $69 refrigerator in India that runs off computer cooling chips. His point was that it may seem silly and ineffective to people in the United States, but it is innovative because people in poorer countries can afford it.

Freshman business major Nicole King said she found the final diversity lecture surprisingly interesting.

"He gave a different point of view about diversity," King said. "It was interesting to see how [innovation] is making it better for people who live on $2 a day or less." 


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