Where Research and Tech Collide

Has your Chief Innovation Officer ever met you at Target while he was riding a robot segway? I’m an Innovation Fellow at UNC’s Reese Innovation Lab, and yes my Chief Innovation Officer has met me in Target riding a robot segway. 

Let me tell you about the UNC Reese Innovation Lab and why it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of. I found out about RIL at the end of my junior year. I was on the hunt for an internship, applied to a few places, you know the drill. But it seemed like nothing I truly wanted to do was available. 

At the time, I was taking a creative strategy course at the Hussman School. (If you’ve read my previous blogs you’ll know that my goal is to be a strategist after graduation). I was talking to my professor about my dilemma and a couple of days later he told me to come to speak to him at the end of class. 

He said something along the lines of “hey, so I’m working on a project with the UNC Reese Innovation Lab, its similar to the work you’ve done for this class and if you are still looking for an internship I think this one would be a good one for you.” I was extremely interested and was put in contact with RIL’s Chief Innovation Officer. I had an interview and before I knew it I became an Innovation Fellow and RIL’s Market Researcher. I helped design and present the projects for our clients from top to bottom. I gained a great amount of experience and was able to learn from any mistakes I made along the way. 

However, RIL’s focus isn’t on market research, in fact, most of our work involves the application of artificial intelligence, augmented reality and other emerging technologies (this explains the robot from earlier). What I love about being an Innovation Fellow is that I get to dip my toes in a variety of projects and am presented with many new opportunities. For example, a few weeks ago I was asked to help lead a design-thinking brainstorm session with a potential client. The other day I saw Alexis, the team’s Creative Content producer, taking pictures of Betsy, our PR Extraordinaire. I asked what was going on and they said they were working on photogrammetry. I was intrigued. So for the next week, part of my time at the lab was spent working with Alexis and Betsy on learning photogrammetry. Today, I found out I will be working on writing a script for a new video we are producing. 

Working in RIL is exciting and new every day. Being an Innovation Fellow has not only allowed me to grow as a researcher/strategist but also improve upon and learn a variety of skills.

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