Expo offers day of adventure, innovation

Kids get ready to dig for nickels in a pile of sand dumped by an Ozinga truck Saturday at the 2014 Northwest Indiana Innovation Expo at the Jean Shepherd Community Center in Hammond.

HAMMOND | Ivy Tech Community College Northwest’s Society of Innovators declared April 12 “Innovation Day in Northwest Indiana” in celebration of the 2014 Northwest Indiana Innovation Expo at the Jean Shepherd Community Center.

“The expo is a day of adventure in Northwest Indiana,” said John Davies, assistant director of Lamkin I & E Center and managing director of The Society of Innovators. “We discover in our own backyard amazing creativity and innovation. It’s not only inspiring, it’s fun. Innovation is improvising, it’s thinking outside the box. It’s making life so much better.”

The expo kicked off World Creativity & Innovation Week (April 15-21) and featured 14 exhibitors, all of whom are members of The Society of Innovators.

“This may be the largest concentration of innovation-based activities during one day open to the general public in Northwest Indiana during 2014,” said O’Merrial Butchee, director, Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center. “Innovate or perish. It’s very important we start embracing innovation as a community. We want people to start this mentality of thinking different. The goal is to get the public involved and understand innovation is not hard."

The expo marked the first time the public could view creative videos submitted by Northwest Indiana students for the 2014 Young Innovators Video Challenge sponsored by the Lamkin I & E Center and Social Media Development Group LLC, of Gary.

“The winners from the challenge will receive an honorary induction into the society,” said Brendon Griffin, COO for Social Media Development Group, who in 2006 was the youngest inductee into the society.

“It means a lot to me to be a part of the program now,” he said.

The public can view the student videos and vote on them through April 25 at www.smdgnwi.com.

Exhibitors included Julie Rizzo, founder of Granite Recycling, which diverts waste from the granite countertop industry.

“It’s nice to introduce innovation ideas to Northwest Indiana in a hands-on experience,” she said.

At Rizzo’s exhibit, Breocia Jackson, 12, of Gary, and other children were using recycled granite to create their own “granite pals.”

“I like it because it’s fun,” she said.

Her mother, Marcia Jackson, said she thinks the expo is good motivation for kids, “to show they’re capable of anything they put their minds to.”

Exhibitor Hospice Artisans was recognized last year by the society for being forward-thinking.

“We’re not just a group that gets together and makes a few little craft items to sell to benefit hospice,” Pam Sussman said. "We really treat this as a business. Our products are very professional. We’re hoping here that we reach people in the community who may never have seen our products before."

Exhibitors also included Fair Oaks Farms, Ozinga Energy, South Shore Clean Cities, 9magnets LLC; Michigan City Robotics, Fitness Pointe, Center for Creative Solutions, RLM Tissue Bank Prosthetics, Lake Michigan LEGOLAND Challenge featuring Purdue University and Valparaiso University College of Engineering and South Shore Arts.


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