Inventors of the Future

How BJU helps students unlock their inner Edison

by   |   estephen@bju.edu   |  
BJU students from the engineering class work on their robot

February 11 is National Inventors’ Day. It’s a day for celebrating the brilliant minds that brought us game-changing inventions like elevators, light bulbs, coffee filters and chewing gum. It’s a day for inspiration, too—inspiring new inventors, young and old, to participate in the limitless possibilities for innovation technology has to offer.

BJU students have a laser focus on the future. Our student body consists of problem-solvers: people with fresh ideas and a desire to change the world for the better. Faculty and staff support of this energy is vital to the educational experience at BJU. Here are some examples of how BJU encourages the spirit of invention and entrepreneurship in students.  

Promoting Innovation

IT’s Technology Resources team runs an innovation program for students, equipped with a 3D printer and a passion for helping students discover their inner creative genius. The team holds 3D printing workshops for the BJU family, but also runs workshops on light painting and green screen technology. Their hope isn’t to just showcase new technologies, but to show students how new technology is a tool that can help them in their work, no matter their major.

“We want them to be able to learn to have critical thinking skills so that they’ll be able to be creative in their careers,” says Hannah Diggs, IT’s instructional technology specialist. BJUtoday ran an article in December about how Diggs worked with the sophomore Fundamentals of Nursing class to create tools for helping people with limited mobility flip light switches, turn on faucets and hold pencils, in addition to a pocket-sized latex glove dispenser for nurses.

Hannah Diggs’ goal is to get more classes from different programs experimenting with the 3D printer and discovering their own creativity. This year, the 3D printer team is working with art education and special education students to create objects that help teachers in those fields do their jobs better. Students will be observing a class with a mentor teacher, observing needs, and designing and redesigning a device to put to use in the classroom.

Teaching Entrepreneurship

The 2010s saw a surge in entrepreneurial efforts. The Internet Age offers a new frontier of e-commerce, online industries and endless possibilities. Whether you want to start a small-town restaurant or found the next Fortune 500 company, there are more resources available to you than ever before.

BJU’s focus, of course, is on how Christians should do business in a broken world. Dr. Adele Dunn of BJU’s of Marketing faculty summarizes her perspective: “I feel passionately that God’s people…should be the most amazing inventors [and] entrepreneurs the world has ever seen, using their skills and talents not in self-interest but to serve others and above all to glorify Him.”

Right now, BJU has two existing entrepreneurship-focused classes with 50 students taking these classes this semester. While these courses aren’t focused on the production of new devices and technologies, they do focus on how to commercialize new tech and services. Introduction to Entrepreneurship focuses on big-picture issues such as finding an office to house your business, record-keeping and legal issues. It’s a practical look at the rewards—and challenges—of building a startup.

Entrepreneurship is a course that teaches students how to take their big ideas for a new product or business and build a business plan to support the dream. The course covers details, like how to analyze data to help beat the competition, as well as bigger ideas, like the role smaller, newer businesses play in the economy.

With the right prerequisites, these classes are available to students who want to take their inventions to a bigger market.

Looking Ahead

BJU hopes to add more resources and programs encouraging innovation, creativity and professional entrepreneurship as opportunities arise. Hannah Diggs hopes to get students from every program into Technology Resources to try out the 3D printers; she also aspires to have a lab dedicated to the printers, open to all students to use when creativity strikes. Dr. Dunn anticipates the creation of an entrepreneurship program, so inventive students can learn how to make the most of the burgeoning startup scene.

The goal of the faculty and staff at BJU, as always, is to help students discover how they can serve God and others with the gifts God has given them—whether it’s the opportunities offered through new technology or a knack for creating the next big thing.

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Emma Galloway Stephens is a writer and faculty liaison in BJU’s Marketing department as well as an adjunct writing faculty member.