Indiana University Kokomo

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KOKOMO, IND. — Automotive industry leftovers fuel Korey West's dreams of educating third-world children.

Monday, 13 May 2013See more Innovation Symposium photos here.He envisions recycling tires, seat belts, and carpet from cars, making shoes from these scraps, and giving them to children in places like South America and Africa, where they walk miles to school and risk injury to their bare feet.

He presented his vision for "Junkyard Shoes," as his final project for Indiana University Kokomo's Innovation Symposium, a class intended to make students think about global issues, and what they can do to solve the world's problems.

After a semester of reading and researching about philanthropy, the environment, and technology, they travel to England and Scotland, where they meet people working in these areas, and visit museums and ecological sites.

"As they study historical and current innovators and innovations, they practice thinking outside the box, and examine new ways to solve problems," said Karla Stouse, senior lecturer in English, who leads the trip.

Student projects included plans to create a microbial fuel cell, encourage a sense of community among Frankfort's diverse populations, develop a workshop to help caregivers promote active learning in dementia patients, build a travel table from recycled plastics, and develop a program to bring Afghan refugees to IU Kokomo.

West, who completed his degree in communication arts with the class, came up with his idea based on mission trips he's taken, and then studied the TOMS shoe company, which offers customers a chance to send a pair of shoes to someone else for each pair they purchase for themselves.

"I had to take this opportunity to be able to go somewhere far away, and to learn how to make a difference," he said. "It encourages you to think outside the box about the problems there are in the world, and what you can do about them."

Stouse said the program's goal is to encourage students to think beyond getting the grade in a class.

"Thinking is a skill that has somehow become lost in education," she said. "The world needs thinkers with the courage to innovate, to try new approaches, and take the risks necessary to make positive changes. If we are not going to teach and encourage students to step up and help fix the world's problems, what will the world look like 50 years from now?"

Innovation Symposium participants are nominated by faculty, and chosen through an essay application and interview process. As many as 10 may go each year; this year nine students participated.

In England, they discussed social entrepreneurship at celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's foundation, which offers unemployed young people the chance to train for careers in the restaurant industry. They toured Covent Garden, with homeless people as their tour guides. They also visited the London Science Museum, Isaac Newton's home, the laboratory of penicillin discoverer Alexander Fleming, the Bodlein Library, the British Library, the British Museum, and Westminster Abbey.

For the environmental part of the program, students went to the Isles of Mull and Iona in Scotland. They spent two weeks at Harlaxton Manor, meeting for class twice daily, and working on their final projects.

For Anthony Rentz, a junior new media communications major, that meant preparing videos to promote availability of scholarships and grants from the Community Foundation of Howard County.

"I want to show the importance of giving, and the impact grants have in the community, to encourage more people to give," he said. "A lot of students don't know about the scholarships that are available to them. I just want to help more people get where they want to go."

Sarah Ferenc, humanities major from Kokomo, created travel packets for families to use, to encourage learning on their vacations. She said the experience "pushes you to create something amazing," and requires a lot of work. It was worth it, she said.

"You get so much more out of the trip than you put in."

Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke called the trip a unique opportunity for IU Kokomo students, and thanked the sponsors who made it possible.

"We appreciate our community partners who share our vision, and see the benefit of overseas travel for our students," she said. "For many, this is their first time traveling outside the country, and it is a life-changing experience. We are thankful for support from Kathleen Ligocki, Dr. and Mrs. Richard Lasbury, our IU Kokomo Staff Council, and the Office for Applied Learning, along with our other faculty, staff, and friends who have given time and money to this effort."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. —2013 Commencement2013 Commencement Three hundred sixty-nine Indiana University Kokomo students earned degrees in December 2012 and May 2013. The graduates represent 26 Indiana counties, and four states. Graduates are listed by hometown. Students who are taking summer classes to complete their degrees will be announced at a later date. Those receiving degrees include:

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo's Main Building will receive its first major renovations in nearly two decades, with $14 million in funding from the Indiana General Assembly.

Main BuildingMain BuildingInterim Chancellor Susan-Sciame Giesecke said the upgrades are critically needed on the building, which was the first on the Washington Street campus. It was built in 1965.

"These funds will ensure that our major classroom building is ready to support our continued growth," she said. "It will allow us not only to update windows and mechanical systems, but also to repurpose key academic areas to add a new mathematics lab, Mac lab, and new classrooms. I want to thank our local legislators, State Senators Jim Buck and Randy Head, as well as State Representatives Bill Friend, Mike Karickhoff, and Heath VanNatter, for their support of our campus during this past legislative session."

Faculty Senate President Chris Darr said faculty members are enthusiastic about the plans.

"We are excited about the renovations, and thrilled that the chancellor, the trustees, and the legislature have supported this project," he said. "These renovations will help create a better learning environment in our campus' original building."

Renovations will include upgrades to the heating and cooling systems and electrical systems for the entire building, along with installing more energy efficient windows and doors. It also will include asbestos removal and replacement of ceilings and fixtures where it is removed. The IU Board of Trustees approved the plans at its recent meeting.

John Sarber, director of physical facilities, anticipates that IU will assign architects and engineers to the project quickly.

"These are critically-needed renovations, and we are grateful for the support," he said.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Steve Vas is now an expert on Turkey. After spending eight days there, visiting businesses, meeting people, and making connections, he received first-hand experiences that couldn't happen in the classroom.

TurkeyMary Harlan meets locals while experiencing the culture in Turkey. See more photos."It's one thing to read about business in a textbook, but we got a sense of how the principles we learn are applied in real life," said Vas, who traveled with students from the Indiana University Kokomo School of Business. "It gives you a third dimension to your education, plus it's a lot of fun. This was an opportunity I wouldn't get in most places."

Vas, along with 17 other students and two faculty members, also witnessed history while in Istanbul, as anti-government protests broke out during their final days in the city.

It started as a protest against planned redevelopment of Taksim Gezi Park, and grew, as participants began expressing concerns about increasingly religious overtones of new laws. Turkey has traditionally been a secular state.

"It became a protest about protecting the separation between church and state," Vas said. "They are defending their democracy. It was kind of exciting to witness it in person."

Linda Ficht, associate professor of business law, planned the trip, and was worried the unrest would ruin it. She canceled their free time in the city, keeping everyone at their hotel, as a precaution.

"We were catty corner to the park, and could watch the protests from a safe vantage point," she said. "We were able to see a revolution in the making, civil rights in the making. The students were excited about it."

Before the protests, students spent seven days visiting American and Turkish-owned businesses, meeting IU alumni, and touring cultural sites in Turkey. Ficht's goal in planning the trip was for students to get out of the classroom and meet real people in another country.

"The lens you view business with changes once you go abroad," she said. "It is important to see first-hand what is happening in other countries. When you immerse yourself, you see it up close. You talk to the people, you deal with the currency exchange rate, and you live it. It takes what you are learning from theory to real experience. You can't read that personal experience in a textbook."

They visited American companies, including Starbucks, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Disney, and also met with representatives of domestically owned businesses.

Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) student Gabby VanAlstine, from Noblesville, was interested to learn from one female business leader that while only 20 percent of Turkey's women are in the workforce, about 65 percent of the country's top executives are women.

"I loved Turkey, but that made me even admire it more," she said. "They've recognized the value of women in the workplace."

She believes foreign study is an important part of business education, and said Turkey was an excellent choice for the School of Business' first-ever overseas trip.

"Turkey is quickly becoming a global force economically," she said. "Any time you go to a foreign country, it changes your life. It takes you out of everything you know, and everything you are used to, and makes you realize there is a whole other world out there."

Talal Al Hammad, an M.B.A. student from Saudi Arabia, has been to Turkey many times, as it is a favorite vacation destination in his country. He said, though, it was a different experience visiting businesses rather than being a tourist. He appreciated people taking time to talk to students about their companies, and how they've succeeded.

"This trip covered so many of the topics we study in our classes, like production, brand name, business law, marketing, and international business," he said. "This trip took us beyond the academic courses. We met actual business people and learned how they are facing real problems on the ground, and what they are doing to solve those problems."

An unexpected benefit of the trip was that the Saudi and American students forged closer ties, he said.

"Before, maybe we were shy about interacting with them," he said. "Now we are all networking, we're all Facebook friends, we text each other, and we call each other. We've been there, but seeing it through American eyes, it was really exciting for us. We learned we share the same values, but because we live in different places, we share those values in different ways. This trip changed something between us, in a good way."

He owns a business in Saudi Arabia, and was pleased to make contacts on the trip that will be useful to him when he earns his degree and returns home. He especially appreciated meeting members of the IU Alumni Association in Turkey.

"They all have experience in many sectors, and some of them want to explore the Saudi market," he said. "Now we will have IU in common to make those connections."

In addition to meeting business executives, Vas, a senior from Kokomo, enjoyed learning more about Turkey's culture, especially how eastern and western ideas connect in Istanbul.

"It's the only city where you will see a women in a burqa walking next to a woman in a mini skirt," he said. "It's the most western country in the east, and the most eastern country in the west. "

Ficht hopes to return to Turkey with students in the future. She is just starting to plan a trip to Prague, Czech Republic, in 2015. Her own trip to Prague while she was an M.B.A. student made her a strong believer in overseas study.

"If you go, and you participate as a student, not a tourist, you will be changed by the experience," she said. "Once you get home, and you start to think about what you saw and what you did, that's when the transformation happens."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.