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ASU to celebrate first Innovation Day

University-wide event to spotlight remarkable work being done in all corners of ASU, help build a shared sense of community

Woman looks through a clear globe
November 09, 2018

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. Read more top stories from 2018 here.

The rankings proclaim it. The double-decker bus wraps brag about it. And now the Arizona State University community is coming together to celebrate it: Innovation Day on Friday, Nov. 16, is a university-wide celebration of the efforts of faculty, staff and students to try new things and take on grand challenges.

“Innovation is happening in so many ways across the institution, and there are so many people doing innovative things, but a lot of those pieces are invisible to the larger university,” said Minu Ipe, knowledge enterprise architect at ASU and Innovation Day organizer.

Nov. 16 will be a time to stop and celebrate the things people are doing at ASU.

“We take on big problems, we take risks and do things that seem challenging and important in so many ways, and we’re working together to make things happen — and this is happening across the institution,” Ipe said. “So can we pause for one day and recognize this?”

Innovation Day will begin in the morning with units across the four campuses marking the day in various ways, from hackathons to wellness events. The celebration culminates with a festival of discovery at Sun Devil Stadium from 3 to 5 p.m., after which internationally renowned vocal artist and beatboxer Reggie Watts will take the stage with a performance that blends music and comedy (tickets, which are free and available on the ASU mobile app, are required for the Watts show).

Vocal artist Reggie Watts

A performance by vocal artist and comedian Reggie Watts will serve as the finale to Innovation Day. His performances are 100 percent improvised, and no two are alike. LA Weekly crowned him "the most wildly inventive new talent of the past five years." Photo courtesy Reggie Watts.

The exhibits at the stadium — ranging from interactive Changemaker activities and a Sun Devil Athletics equipment-tech showcase to virtual-reality demos and student-created health apps — are just an example of what is occurring across the university, Ipe said. It will spotlight new approaches to learning and even to operational processes.

“It’s truly a slice of innovation at ASU,” she said. “… The exhibits don’t just reflect what we do, but also how we do.”

Innovation is a mindset, Ipe said, one that exists across disciplines and functions at the university. It’s also not just the outcome, but the process as well.

“When we focus solely on the outcome, we lose a lot of interesting things about innovation. … It’s in the ideas that fail that we also learn a lot. The process is just as important to celebrate.”

That process will be on display at Innovation Day, where many of the exhibits will be interactive, asking participants to offer their ideas. ASU partners will also be represented, with a Starbucks Nitro Brew Bicycle (a mobile Nitro cold-brew machine that shows how the nitrogen-charged coffee is made) on display and an adidas creator lab where participants can develop prototypes of shoes and other products. For those who cannot be at the stadium in person, the event will be livestreamed on ASU’s Facebook page.

There’s a myth about innovation that it’s the work of a lone genius inspired by an “aha” moment, Ipe said.

“Innovation happens when people come together to solve problems they care about. But it’s a chaotic, messy process” in which some ideas fail but ultimately something works, Ipe said. It’s also the prerogative of everyone.

“As human beings, we are capable of learning and problem solving … but there seems to be this larger belief in society that it belongs to only certain people or certain fields,” Ipe said. “ASU has taught me that’s not the case. Innovation can happen anywhere. Anyone is capable of it.”

She hopes that people leave Innovation Day not just with a better understanding of the work being done at ASU, but with a stronger sense of community.

“It’s about all of us coming together to solve some pretty significant challenges.” 

Innovation Day

What: University-wide celebration of the mindset that has made ASU the most innovative university in the country four years in a row.

When: Individual events throughout the morning; afternoon central event begins at 3 p.m., with Reggie Watts taking the stage at 5 p.m. (free ticket required for Watts performance; limited number available on ASU mobile app — tap on the side menu and choose "365 Community Union").

Where: Morning events at schools and colleges on all campuses; afternoon event at the south end of Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.

Food: At the stadium event, there will be free food and Starbucks Cold Brew while supplies last. Concession stands will be open for food and beverage purchase as well.

Parking and transit: Free beginning at 2 p.m. in Lot 59 on the north side of Sun Devil Stadium. Enter stadium from the southeast or southwest entrances. Shuttles from Downtown Phoenix, Polytechnic or West campuses will have an additional stop in front of the stadium; those in Tempe can take the FLASH shuttle. Additionally, for the downtown campus, RSVP to the event and show your ID for a free one-day transit pass for light rail (passes available on the day of the event at the Parking and Transportation Services office in UCENT). Those using Lyft can use the code INNOVATIONDAY for 20 percent off rides to and from Sun Devil Stadium.

Online: Afternoon event will be streamed on ASU's Facebook page. You can also follow along on various social media by searching for the hashtag #ASUInnovationDay.