The culture of innovation relies on the integration of education, community, and industry. This culture does not follow the build it and they will come philosophy - we can’t just replicate large makerspaces in our rural communities. This culture is fostered by a few passionate people working on events, opportunities, and resources that give people the inspiration to innovate.
In Nebraska, one of the largest innovation events is called the Aurora Open & Innovation Showcase. This event combines the excitement of a 48 team CREATE Open powered by NPPD robot tournament, a 50 business skills based innovation showcase, and a 25 team innovation challenge. The innovation challenge pairs two businesses with one student team and they work together to create a product or process that integrates the two businesses. By participating in the innovation challenge, businesses get to interact with a potential future workforce, help develop interest in technical skills, and create business to business relationships throughout rural Nebraska.
The CREATE Open powered by NPPD is a competitive robot division that started in Nebraska and is now in several states and in China. This division focuses on innovation, creativity, and the “open” sharing of knowledge. Last season 40 teams from 14 different Nebraska schools and 3 teams from China competed in the Aurora Open & Innovation Showcase. The 2018-2019 season will continue growing and will include college teams from around the state competing along-side of the middle school and high school teams.