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Creative buzz at UC's Lindner amplifies Next Lives Here

New faculty award supports innovative teaching

Elliott Manzon teaching

If you stop by David Rapien’s office in the University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business, he may show you a drone or put an Augmented Reality device on your head.

In Elliott Manzon’s office, he shares his students’ solutions for everyday problems — a Popsicle holder to stop drips or a grocery bag handle for easier transport, both created by a 3D printer.

Rapien, assistant professor-educator of information systems, and Manzon, assistant professor-educator of marketing, become animated when they discuss their students, teaching methods and the Lindner College of Business. Both focus on engaging their students, not talking at them. In their classrooms and offices, teachers and students interact to create, learn and inspire.

UC is putting innovation at the heart of its future through Next Lives Here, the university’s strategic direction introduced by President Neville Pinto in early 2018. Daniel Gruber, associate dean for Innovation and New Ventures, says Lindner’s creative buzz, the 1819 Innovation Hub and the new Lindner College of Business facility opening in 2019 all dovetail perfectly into how UC will use innovation to bend the future.

Rapien and Manzon’s methods are contributing to the almost palpable “buzz” at Lindner, Gruber says. “We’re at a space and place where it’s about creating a culture where everybody feels like they can try things, that they’re supported in doing it, and that they can learn and share.”

Contributing to the energy at Lindner are people like Drew Boyd and his wife, Wendy.

Drew, executive director of the Master of Science in Marketing program, and Wendy wanted to give Lindner students an edge in creativity, innovation and subsequently, the job market.

After deciding that supporting faculty was the best approach, they established the Drew and Wendy Boyd Breakthrough in Innovative Teaching Excellence Award, which provides financial support to Lindner faculty for use in their classes.

Manzon and Rapien were the first Boyd Award recipients.

“They are viewed as incredible faculty members who are fully engaged in teaching and very passionate about what they do,” Gruber says. “When the two of them were selected, I think there was almost like a ray of light around it, a feeling of, ‘Yes!’”

Rapien uses what he calls “toys” in his information systems classes. Through his use of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality devices, students learn how to innovatively approach and solve real problems in finance, marketing and operations.

“No matter what you’re teaching, it’s got to be the most exciting thing to you otherwise it won’t be exciting to them,” Rapien says.

“The amazing thing with this department and this college is that there is so much support for creativity and for trying new things.”

Elliott Manzon UC assistant professor-educator of marketing

Teacher at Lindner

David Rapien (right) and students use an Augmented Reality device. Photo/Lindner College Relations Marketing

Meanwhile, Manzon’s marketing students flex their creative muscles by interacting with the world and finding what is needed. After creating a product designed to solve a problem, they create prototypes and then, in the case of the Popsicle-holder and grocery bag holder, use a 3D printer, and market it by building a webpage using Kickstarter.

“By the second week of class, students who might not intuitively believe that they’re creative are prototyping in class,” Manzon says. “They’re building things, and by the end of the semester, we’ve taught them to do basic 3D printing. It’s breaking the mold in what they expect.”

Breaking the mold is exactly what the Boyds had in mind when they created the Breakthrough in Innovative Teaching Excellence Award, and they are thrilled with the first-year award recipients.

“Elliott and David are outstanding,” Drew Boyd says. “The award recognizes teachers for adding creative training into their curriculum. We can get graduates walking out of here with those cognitive skills, that’s what companies want. They need the functional training but they also need the brain skills, the ability to produce ideas in a way that’s systematic.”

Rapien, whose students have secured full-time jobs because of their Augmented Reality skills, and Manzon echo this sentiment.

“Recruiters want students who can be problem-solvers because the real world and jobs in industry are not going be a test based on memorization,” Manzon says. “In the real world, it’s all about, ‘Here’s a problem we weren't expecting to have, how do you solve it?’”

“We as a college of business see ourselves as an integral part of Next Lives Here in wanting to enhance many of the different things that are going on across the various areas,” Gruber says. “I think one of the direct ties to the strategic direction is around innovation.”

“The amazing thing with this department and this college is that there is so much support for creativity and for trying new things,” Manzon says. “They want us to create the class that’s best for our students.”

Feature image at top: Elliott Manzon's marketing students find innovative solutions for everyday problems. Photo/Lindner College Relations Marketing