Walking into the Old Heep Laboratory Building on main campus, I found it an unlikely place for Texas A&M University’s newly created School of Innovation. With a name like that, you’d expect a Silicon Valley vibe with bright spaces, modern furniture and a collaborative, hub-like feel. Instead, the building—constructed in 1957—felt like it was constructed in 1957.
But once I walked into the actual School of Innovation offices, I could tell they were making lemonade out of lemons. The first thing I noticed was life-size cardboard cutouts of innovative thinkers and doers: Alan Turing, George Washington Carver, Marie Curie, Mozart and Georgia O’Keefe. Another room housed a collection of inspiring books and brainteasers such as magnet puzzles, LEGOs, Rubik’s cubes and various games that test your mind, memory and logic—all things your inner child would enjoy. There were some random items too, just for fun: a giant stuffed animal fish and a stuffed animal of Dogbert, the talking pet dog from the Dilbert comic strip. Downstairs, the atmosphere continued with hanging Edison string lights and a “campfire” circle of chairs to stimulate conversation. Whimsical and quirky, the whole place inspired a sense of wonder.
Multiple stories in this issue elicit that same sense of imagination, including the article about the LEGO replica of the Academic Building created by Luke Lyons ’08 ’18 and our feature on Kirk Kelley ’82, the creative guru for M&M’s advertising. Like Andy Morriss ’18 at the School of Innovation, these individuals are passionate about exploring, learning, having fun and being creative—and what a hallmark that is.
We should never forget that an imaginative mindset promotes new ideas, keeps our minds sharp, encourages us to be lifelong learners and drives solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems. Even a small idea can lead to something great, as so many examples throughout history would support. Without such imagination and investigation, our knowledge would languish. Luckily, in a place like Texas A&M, imagination abounds everywhere you look.