"I've always been creative, in a sense," said Adam Kaps, a senior completing the entrepreneurship minor, "but I had never applied it to business practices." That was before he participated in the Ideation Challenge at USI, a contest in which student teams participate in the process of product development and design alongside USI faculty and local business leaders. His team's sleek and youthful party tent design for Anchor Industries won the competition.
He has dreamed up several more innovative ideas since then, with a little collaboration with classmates and the skills he gained in his entrepreneurship courses. One of them - the Fire Bug - uses military-patented flare technology to start a fire with a device the size of a poker chip. Working with Jack Smothers, assistant professor of management at USI, Kaps will license the technology and create a prototype. He hopes it can be used in emergency kits.
"I always thought of creativity as a tool for novelists or artists," Kaps said. "Up until my participation in the Ideation Challenge, using creative thinking to solve real-world problems hadn't crossed my mind." Now, Kaps' mind is open to a world of innovative possibilities.
Alexandra "Ali" Husk has two guiding philosophies: it takes seven seconds to make a first impression, and the people you meet in life will both shape your perspective and help you succeed. For this to happen, she said, "You have to want to engage with people."
Husk, a junior business administration major, expands her cultural horizons through world travel and her international connections at USI, meeting and immersing herself in foreign cultures on campus. Her German friends are teaching her the language, and she's eager to learn more. "French, German, Russian... why not?" she said.
She is currently working on a business plan involving photography and international travel and credits her international experiences for valuable cultural insights. "I've learned something from every person I've met at USI," Husk said.
Some students may feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of college life; but since his freshman year, senior marketing major Zack Mathis has carried 15 credit hours per semester and has immersed himself in dozens of activities and organizations, in addition to a marketing internship.
While interning for Kindra Strupp, USI's assistant vice president for marketing and communications, Mathis also participated in the Technology Commercialization Academy, student business competitions and the Marketing Club.
"Participating in extracurricular activities has provided me with so many things: opportunities, time management, leadership and interpersonal skills, and networking connections," Mathis said. "My interpersonal skills have improved a lot. My leadership skills also have grown, and I know more about guiding people so everyone can be effective."