Speakers Pioneering Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (SPICE)

Speakers Pioneering Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (SPICE)

The goal of our SPICE series is to influence the ecosystem by bringing role models in to educate the charms and challenges in realizing breakthrough innovations.

Speakers Pioneering Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (SPICE) is a free ongoing speaker event to enhance the flavor of engineering education by bringing technology visionaries into direct contact with students and practitioners. The goal of SPICE is to influence the ecosystem by bringing role models in to educate the charms and challenges in realizing breakthrough innovations.

SPICE is one of the many educational components spearheading the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program at Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology. The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program guides each student to adapt entrepreneurial methods into their everyday lives including teamwork, creative thinking, customer-appropriate values, project management and demonstrating voluntary social responsibility.

The SPICE lecture series is sponsored by the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN). and The Coleman Foundation.

The Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) is a collaboration of U.S. universities that strive to instill an entrepreneurial mindset in undergraduate engineering and technology students. KEEN’s mission is to graduate engineers with an entrepreneurial mindset so they can create personal, economic, and societal value through a lifetime of meaningful work.

The Coleman Foundation is a private, independent grantmaker focusing primarily on the Midwest. Foundation resources support education – with a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship.

Contact Information

If you have questions please contact Dr. Sridhar Condoor at (314) 977-8444 or condoor@slu.edu.



April 15, 2014 - Akshay Sharma, Assistant Professor in the industrial design department at Virginia Tech

Time: 6:30 - 8:00 pm
Location: Center For Global Citizenship, C.S. Huh Auditorium, 3800 Lindell St Louis, MO

According to a recent World Bank report, “Women who contribute half of the world’s population by virtue of an accident of birth, perform two-thirds of the world’s work, receive one-tenth of its income and owns less than one-hundredth of its property.”

The Designing Empowerment Initiative at Virginia Tech explores the role of design as a catalyst for empowerment, especially for women. Interdisciplinary teams of faculty and students have created solutions for micro financing, vaccination and alternative energy for people living below the poverty line. We believe if design is about creative problem solving that we should be able to address some of the most pressing issues of our times.

Akshay Sharma is passionate about using design as a catalyst for empowerment of women, especially in the developing regions. Currently he is working on projects related to micro financing with an NGO in India, use of cell phones for creating a more efficient process maintaining immunization records in developing countries and working with Jaipur foot organization to develop a foot measurement system.

For more information on Akshay Sharma and design for learning and empowerment visit http://id4learning.com


Derek Weber

February 12, 2014 - Derek Weber, President of goBrandgo!

Time: 6:30 - 8:00 pm
Location: John Cook School of Business, Room 230, 3674 Lindell Blvd 
St Louis, MO 63108

Entrepreneurially-minded people all have one thing in common…ideas, lots of ideas. In this session, you will learn how to identify which ideas are worth pursuing, how to turn that great concept into a great business, as well as the two things you must master to be a successful entrepreneur. 

Over the last decade, Derek has transformed his college t-shirt business into goBrandgo!, one of the nation’s leading strategic branding and marketing firms for entrepreneurs. Driven by the success of goBrandgo! and its purpose “To be the Champion of the Every Day Entrepreneur”, Weber co-founded the go!-celerator, providing a free furnished apartment, office space, mentoring, and services to young entrepreneurs. Derek lives his go!-Statement, “To Inspire and Influence Positive Change” by sharing his story and lessons learned with entrepreneurs across the country in hopes he can make their journey just a bit easier and even more impactful. 

For more information on goBrandgo! and Derek Weber, visit http://gobrandgo.com



November 20, 2013 - Rocio Romero, Architectural Designer of Rocio Romero LLC

Time: 6:30 - 8:00 pm
Location: John Cook School of Business, Room 230, 3674 Lindell Blvd 
St Louis, MO 63108

Ms. Romero will talk about how she started her LV Series Home Line business and also talk about her vision to create affordable modern architecture and designs.

Rocio Romero is a celebrated Chilean-American architectural designer who is actively involved in residential home design and construction in the U.S., Chile, France, and Canada. In addition to her acclaimed line of prefabricated homes - the LV Series - Romero’s design work includes commercial interiors, custom residential homes, furniture, and a gallery.

Rocio is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Environmental Design with a Major in Architecture. She received a Master’s in Architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc).

Rocio and her work have been featured in numerous publications. Paul Goldberger of The New Yorker wrote, “Romero’s designs stand out for their clarity, simplicity, and grace.” Karrie Jacobs, founding editor in chief of Dwell magazine, claimed in her book The Perfect $100,000 House that Rocio was the first to figure out how to market modern prefab homes: “Even as competitors and imitators spring up, Rocio is the one who really took on the problem of prefabricating a simple, attractive, low-cost modern house and solved it.”


September 18, 2013 - Ken Herold, Architect of the Possibilities, ThoughtWare LLC

With the insight of future technology and a creative, innovative spirit, Ken Herold has kept organizations ahead of current trends. He has 30 years of experience as a catalyst for change, turning software technologies and information into knowledge as a competitive advantage. Ken blends his design education in architecture, a technical background in computer science, and an advanced education in Artificial Intelligence to keep clients on the cutting edge.

Previous to his current role as an advanced technology consultant, Ken served as CKO (Chief Knowledge Officer) for over 14 years at HOK, one of the world’s largest global architecture and engineering firms. As the CKO, he functioned as an intrapreneur focusing on using design thinking, biomimicry, innovation and creativity to transform ideas for clients and HOK teams. In his early career with HOK, he was part of the development of one of the first 2D/3D data base backed by CADD systems and then later led the movement into building modeling using objects.

Ken is also involved with ideation in the St. Louis community. Over the last year, his efforts have expanded into mentorship activities for a diverse group of 45 startups within five incubators in the St. Louis area.


April 30, 2013 - Paul Wessel, CEO and Founder of Innovation Consulting Partners, LLC

Mr. Wessel has spent the past 28 years involved in different disciplines of industrial and healthcare automation. He has held different executive leadership roles in sales, marketing, and new product and intellectual property development within large and medium sized corporations. As an inventor and entrepreneur, Mr. Wessel has successfully built and sold several medical device companies.

Mr. Wessel received the 2003 Tekne Award presented by the Minnesota High Technology Association as ” Innovator of the Year” for an emerging company. Mr. Wessel has been issued three United States Patents with six more domestic and international patents still pending. In 2011, Mr. Wessel was honored by the Engineering Society of Detroit with its Alpha Award, as recognition for his contributions in medical device development.


February 21, 2013 - Tom Niermann, Ph.D.

Tom Niermann Ph.D. has founded 3 venture backed software startups, in 3 different markets in the valley in the first 14 years of his career. Two of those went on to be bought by public companies. At those companies he has been CEO, CTO, VP of Engineering, and briefly CFO and VP of Sales. In that time Tom raised 15 rounds of Venture Capital, Angel Capital, Venture Debt, Corporate financing, and he has invested as an Angel in 5 companies. Tom was most recently the Head of Technology and Program Management for Google’s direct partners worldwide. In that role he oversaw the team responsible for the business plan, pricing and product for the strategic partners of AdSense, YouTube, Mobile, and other products. Tom is an active member of the St Louis Arch Angels, and is currently starting a mobile application company.



January 29, 2013 - Bob Bornhofen, Pres./CEO, Chief Designer of SportJet II

The last decade saw the biggest investment disaster in general aviation history. Over $2 billion was invested in numerous start-ups and existing aircraft manufacturers to build a commercially viable low-cost “very light jet”.   All have either never flown, were stalled or cancelled by serious design issues or such major cost overruns they became financially non viable. These failures have permanently damaged virtually every element of general aviation from investment capital sources, aircraft manufacturers to customers who put down millions of dollars in deposits.

The discussion will present that the opportunity yet exists for any entrepreneur or manufacturer capable of overcoming the obstacles that not only derailed the prior failures but current industry investment mentality to produce a light jet aircraft that a reasonably competent pilot can fly and afford.


December 6, 2012 - Bryce Rutter, Ph.D., Founder and CEO of Metaphase Design Group.

Bryce Rutter is an expert in the field of handheld design and ergonomics, and is a specialist in innovation and business strategy. Through his vision, Metaphase has ReDefined Ergonomics by creating a brand new way to research and design products that work with the way people think, feel and behave, and has brought The Dignity Factor to the design of healthcare products that have created a new level of comfort, compassion, warmth, and humanity, thereby restoring dignity to people of all ages.

His leadership has consistently delivered award-winning innovative breakthroughs in Design, Ergonomics, Packaging and Research for the world’s most prestigious and influential brands including Sony, Pfizer, Microsoft, Dell, LG, Gatorade, John Deere, Gillette, Bausch & Lomb, Kraft and Revlon, to name a few.


October 10, 2012 - Bud Albers, President of Interactive Technology Strategies

A.D. “Bud” Albers is the President of Interactive Technology Strategies. He has been at the forefront of technology innovation in the online, mobile and media space. He has been an author, innovator, inventor, lecturer and featured speaker on technology and media, large scale Internet computing, cloud computing and information security. He has been interviewed and quoted by publications like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times as well as numerous technology trade publications.

Mr. Albers is the former Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for both Disney’s Interactive Media Group and for Walt Disney Corporate where he lead Disney’s Connected and Advanced Technologies (DCAT) team.