2007 Olympus Innovation Award Winners


NCIIA recognizes the 2007 winners in the Olympus Innovation Award Program: Dr. Deborah Streeter, Cornell University; Burt Swersey, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI); and William Grant, University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).  The program recognizes individuals who have fostered and demonstrated innovative thinking in higher education.  The winners received their awards from George Steares, vice president emeritus, Olympus America, in Tampa, Fla., at the NCIIA 11th Annual Meeting.

“Congratulations to the 2007 winners of the Olympus Innovation Award Program,” said Steares.  “I was most impressed with their innovative teaching methods and the profound impact they have had on so many students to become successful inventors and entrepreneurs.  Fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, a key element of Olympus’ management philosophy, is essential for companies to succeed in the U.S. and even more so internationally.”

Phil Weilerstein, NCIIA executive director, added, “The 2007 winners once again illustrate the essential role that higher education can play in grooming this country’s next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. We are pleased about the visibility and the high quality of applications the Olympus Innovation Award Program is enjoying and look forward to continuing our partnership with Olympus to make the program even more successful.”

Deb Streeter, the Bruce F. Failing, senior associate professor of personal enterprise in Cornell University’s Department of Applied Economics and Management, won the Olympus Innovation Award in recognition for her contributions to Cornell and, more broadly, for being a pioneer in innovation and entrepreneurship education.  The judges were particularly impressed with Streeter’s “e-Clips” initiative, a collection of more than 6,000 digital video clips on entrepreneurship, the world’s largest such online collection.

Created from in-depth interviews or presentations by entrepreneurs; venture capitalists, bankers and other start-up capital providers; as well as employees of start-up companies, e-Clips provides rich media curricular material (video, audio) to easily help educators share rich information on entrepreneurship with their students.  To date, the database has attracted users from 70 countries and nearly 800 different universities.  As part of her award, Streeter will receive $10,000.

Burt Swersey, lecturer in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering at RPI, won the Olympus Lifetime of Educational Innovation Award for his dedication to innovative thinking and his commitment to his students and their learning.  Prior to joining RPI, Swersey was a successful innovator in the medical field.  He developed a number of important inventions, including an extremely accurate scale to weigh patients, including bed and instrumentation, revolutionizing the treatment of water losses in patients with severe burns.  For the past 18 years, Swersey has taught the ideals and methods of innovation and has served as a role model to students.  Many of these students have made significant impacts, either as entrepreneurs or as product designers for well-established companies, accumulating patents and business plan competition awards.  Swersey’s award includes a $2,500 prize.

William Grant, program manager of the Technology Management Program at UCSB’s College of Engineering, received the Olympus Emerging Educational Leader Award for his work at UCSB in creating and managing extracurricular activities that enable students to network and share knowledge and experience with successful scientists, entrepreneurs and other business experts.  Grant facilitates this dialogue through intimate working luncheons, small seminars, lectures and his “On the Edge” radio program on KCSB91.9FM.  Created and hosted by Grant and UCSB students, the weekly show features successful entrepreneurs and innovators and discusses how ideas become inventions.  In recognition of his work, Grant will receive $1,000.

Streeter, Swersey and Grant were among numerous qualified professionals nominated by colleagues at NCIIA member institutions, including many top colleges and research institutions in the United States.