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What do Harris Corporation, Adobe, NASA and Florida Tech have in common?

Well, it’s true that they were among the participants in One Nation, an intriguing live event last month that Florida Today and USA Today convened at Port Canaveral.

But the answer is that each of those organizations values – and more importantly, fosters – innovation.

So at the event, NASA’s Chief Knowledge Officer, Ed Hoffman, spoke, and then Bill Gattle, president of Space & Intelligence Systems at Harris. He was followed by Mark Randall, Adobe’s vice president of innovation.

As images played on the screen of our students engaged in the kind of hands-on education that is a Florida Tech hallmark, I then took the stage, and like those who preceded me, discussed what innovation looks like at my organization.

And yes, it looks like those students, working in the lab with their professor. It also looks like the students at a work bench in the Harris Student Design Center, frustrated with the setback in their capstone design project but determined to find a new and better way forward. And it looks like the student interns working on jet turbines at Larsen Motorsports, home to the Florida Tech jet dragster.

That’s what is so exciting about innovation at Florida Tech: It’s a starting point. It encompasses success and failure, labs and auto shops, hands-on learning and compelling lectures.

And you better believe we teach students how to take their innovation from the workplace to the marketplace.

Innovation has been a part of Florida Tech since Jerry Keuper started it back in 1958, and that nexus of education and fearless thinking has been growing stronger ever since. It is what makes Florida Tech such an important, invigorating place to be – for students, faculty, staff and yes, university presidents.

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