Be inspired by global leaders during IGNITE

Be Inspired By Global Leaders during IGNITE

World-renowned keynote speakers will share their stories of innovation and entrepreneurship – everyone is invited to attend!

By Mallory Tope, Communications Assistant | published April 7, 2022

The second-annual IGNITE Innovation Showcase is just around the corner! Join the Student Innovation Center from April 18-22 as the entire Cyclone community celebrates the collaborations, inventions, and opportunities that set Iowa State University apart.

All Cyclones – students, faculty, staff, alumni, industry partners, and community members – are invited to participate in the celebration.

Each day, hundreds of students from every college will be participating in pitch competitions, innovation challenges, and more. In addition, we will be welcoming world-renowned keynote speakers who will share their stories of innovation and entrepreneurship.

You will hear from Trent Preszler, Louis Carr, Tan Le, and others who have made an impact on the world and are here to help pave the way for the next generation of innovators. RSVP at to save a seat or stream the event live on the Student Innovation Center’s YouTube channel

For a full list of events taking place throughout the five-day event, visit

Meet our Keynote Speakers:

April 18th Change the World 

5:15 – 7 PM in the Student Innovation Center Auditorium (SICTR 0114)

man with glasses holding canoe oar

Trent Preszler is CEO of Bedell Cellars and former Chairman of WineAmerica. Preszler is an Iowa State University alumnus who has left his mark on changing the world. After the death of his father in 2014, Preszeler built a wooden canoe using his father’s tools. Newsday produced a short documentary film about Preszler’s boatbuilding and inspirations which won the 2018 New York Emmy Award for Best Lifestyle Program.

man wearing pinstriped suit in front of striped background

Louis Carr has been with BET Networks for 35 years, serving as the President of Media Sales. During his time with the company, Carr has transformed the multicultural space for some of the world’s biggest brands. Carr’s commitment to young people and his community led him to the creation of the Louis Carr Internship Foundation (LCIF). Carr is an Innovator-in-Residence for the Student Innovation Center and the sponsor for the ChangeMaker Innovation Sprint.

April 19th Move the World

5 – 7 PM in the Student Innovation Center Auditorium (SICTR 0114)

man looking into camera

Robert Piconi is the Co-Founder and CEO of Energy Vault. Piconi is responsible for the overall vision. strategic directions and operational performance of the company. Energy Vault creates highly disruptive and innovative solutions focused on long-duration, energy storage. Piconi was the winner of the 2022 World Economic Prize for Innovation.

smilng man wearing a vest and checkered button-down

Anthony Sardella is the Founder and Vice-Chairman of evolve24 a company he founded in 2004. The company is advanced in artificial intelligence, data, and decision sciences. Previously Sardella served as the Director of Analytics at Monsanto Company. His career of breakthrough work was honored by induction as a Laureate of the Smithsonian Institute for his visionary work leading to significant social and economic impact in the field of science and technology.

Dennis Muilenburg

Dennis Muilenburg is the chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder of New Vista Acquisition Corporation Owner. Muilenburg is also the President and CEO of DAM CyFly Consulting, LLC. Muilenburg serves as an Innovation-in-Residence for the Student Innovation Center and is the co-founder of the ISU Innovation Fellows Program. In this role, he engages with students to expand their leadership and innovation capacity, through a variety of projects and hands-on training programs. 

man with crossed arms standing behind a barrier in a doorway

Hudson Harr is the CEO and Founder of SkyCurrent. Harr launched his career in Renewable Energy at the age of 22 when he invented a technology called ReRev, which was deployed at over 70 facilities across the US.  He went on to found an international solar engineering, procurement and construction company called SunQuest. Harr focuses on executing innovative technologies with profitable underlying businesses.

Man with curly. hair and glasses, smiling

Paul Willard is a partner of Grep VC and an alumnus of Iowa State University. For 14 years, Willard was a product, design, and marketing executive at tech startups including Atlassian,, NextCard, and Practice Fusion. Before Willard worked with interwebs, he was an aerodynamics engineer at Boeing. He has an Aerospace Engineering BS from Iowa State University, a Manufacturing Systems Engineering MS from Stanford and an EMBA from Singularity University.

April 20th Make To Innovate

5 – 7 PM in the Student Innovation Center Auditorium (SICTR 0114)

Dr. Gopichand Katragadda is the founder and CEO of Myelin Foundry an Al company with a vision to transform human experiences and outcomes in wellness and media & entertainment. He has authored a book on innovation titled “SMASH,” which is currently in its second edition. Dr. Katragadda received his MS and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University.

Mohanned Alabsi is the senior vice president of technology. Alabsi is a seasoned technology leader with experience in the US, East Asia, and the Middle East. Alabsi’s career began as an early engineer at the first successful tech startup to come out of the Middle East, Maktoob. After finishing his Master in Computer Science from Iowa State, Mohammed joined Amazon’s engineering team. During his 10 years tenure at Amazon, he built a number of Cloud services that are powering millions of tech companies worldwide.

Narayan Devanathan is the chief client officer at Dentsu International’s India office. Narayan is responsible for driving a renewed focus on client-centric solutions to deliver the best of Dentsu’s solutions across the spectrum of business challenges that clients face in an ever-changing world. Devanatan is an alumnus of Journalism and Mass Communications from the Greenlee School in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University.

April 21st Feed the World

5 – 7 PM in the Student Innovation Center Auditorium (SICTR 0114)

Colin Hurd is the business development manager for Raven Autonomy, a board member for Jackrabbit Equipment, and co-director of Ag Startup Engine. Hurd is the founder of Smart Ag, which developed the first aftermarket driverless system to automate tractors.

Oshoke Abalu

Oshoke Abalu is an architect, futurist and co-founder of Love and Magic Company. Abalu is an alumna of Iowa State University College of Design. Abalu’s work has been featured in TIME Magazine, Vogue, Smart Planet, Real Simple Magazine, Domino Magazine, Fast Company, ABC, NBC, TED, and more.

woman standing in front of paddock of horses

Dr. Alison L. Van Eenennaam is a cooperative extension specialist in the animal genomics and biotechnology laboratory at the University of California Davis. Dr. Eenennaam received the 2014 Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) Borlaug Communications Awad and authored Biobeef Blog.

April 22nd Innovation Awards

3 – 5 PM in 2055 Hoover Hall

Tan Le

Tan Le is the co-founder and CEO of Emotiv, a neuroinformatics company advancing understanding of the human brain using electroencephalography (EEG). Le is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious 2018 Innovation Research Interchange Achievement Award, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2013, Fast Company’s Most Influential Women in Technology in 2010, and Forbes’ 50 Names You Need to Know in 2011. She was selected by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader in 2009.


Join the conversation and fire up your creativity during the 2022 IGNITE Innovation Showcase April 18-22!