Tag Archive for: RCC

Students work at Innovation Jam

Innovation Jam draws 30-plus students

More than 30 Southern Oregon University and Rogue Community College students gathered at CraterWorks Makerspace on Saturday, Nov. 4, for the second annual Southern Oregon Innovation Jam.

Students participated in design thinking exercises, created big ideas to solve local problems and pitched solutions, while local business professionals and entrepreneurs were on hand to guide students in their processes, give feedback and mentor student teams.

Some of the big ideas discussed at this year’s Innovation Jam included a new take on local community housing and food resources, and a large community event in Ashland. The winner of the competition was Boom TV – a pre-loaded, iPad-like device designed to help the elderly with technology.

President Rick Bailey at Innovation JamStudents wrapped up the event by presenting their ideas for change, on the topic of “reinventing community.” They were commended by RCC President Randy Weber, SOU President Rick Bailey and Oregon State Representative Christine Goodwin.

The jam was intended to showcase the strengths of RCC and SOU, and the capabilities of students from both institutions. Their collaborative work was guided by the prototyping methodologies of Design Thinking.

Students in any major at RCC or SOU were invited to join the Central Point event, working as groups on prototypes through the day until an “educators’ huddle” at 3 p.m.

Cultural economist, consultant, journalist and U.S. Navy veteran Mike Green inspired young entrepreneurs as the keynote speaker, sharing his experiences in business start-ups, design thinking strategies and inclusive economic ecosystems. He is co-founder of three companies: ScaleUp Partners, LLC;  Common Ground Conversations on Race in America; and the National Institute for Inclusive Competitiveness.

SOU-RCC Innovation Jam on Saturday at RCC's Tablerock campus

SOU, RCC collaborate in regional “Innovation Jam”

Participants will form teams and invent solutions to “some of the region’s most pressing problems,” including sustainability and environmentalism, in an Innovation Jam on Saturday that features SOU and RCC students, and is overseen by business leaders, innovators and educators from around Oregon.

The event, co-hosted by Invent Oregon, is a regional collegiate competition that engages entrepreneurial students in all-day brainstorming sessions. The southern Oregon event will be from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at RCC’s Table Rock Campus in White City.

Abigail Van Gelder, executive director of Invent Oregon, said students from SOU’s Design Thinking and Creative Entrepreneurship courses will bring “the multi-disciplinary communication and collaboration skills needed to launch and scale a 21st-century startup.” Students from RCC’s industrial technology program will provide “expertise in tools, technology and manufacturing,” she said.

Students will work on prototypes through the day, with a keynote address, final pitches, feedback from local mentors and advisors and networking open to the public starting at 4 p.m. Advisors will provide input, using design-thinking guidelines and techniques.

“This is the only workshop of its kind being hosted by Invent Oregon this year,” Van Gelder said. “We are working with RCC and SOU to pilot new ways to serve innovation students across the state outside of the channel of having a team that represents their university at the Invent Oregon Collegiate Challenge.

“We look forward to taking this workshop across the state to other partner schools next year.”

The SOU-RCC partnership in the Innovation Jam is the result of collaboration between Marshall Doak, director of SOU’s Small Business Development Center, and Kim Freeze, RCC’s Dean of Science, Art and Technology.

The event will include a catered breakfast and lunch for registered participants.

Event location:
RCC’s Table Rock Campus in White City, Oregon
7800 Pacific Ave, White City, OR 97503

Event Schedule:

  • 8:30am — 9:00am: Registration and Breakfast
  • 9:00am — 10:00am: Kickoff and Initial Instructions
  • 10:00am — 10:30am: Design Thinking Module
  • 10:30am — 11:30am: Problem Statement Introductions and Customer Interviews
  • 11:30am — 1:30pm: Mentor Guided Team Session
  • 12:00pm: Lunch Delivered
  • 1:30pm — 2:00pm: Pitch Design Module
  • 2:00pm — 3:00pm: Pitch Design
  • 2:30pm — 3:30pm: Pitch Coaching Session
  • 3:00pm — 4:00pm: Final Presentation Prep
  • 4:00pm — 5:30pm: Guest Speaker, Pitch for the Judges and Awards

Contact Information:     

Story by Angelina Caldera, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer


Student set to complete turnaround after transfer to SOU

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University accounting student Mary Jane Feetham is on track to graduate next June and then take an exam to become a certified public accountant – the final step in a personal turnaround from near-homelessness and reliance on public assistance.

Feetham recognized that something had to change five years ago when she ended a relationship due to domestic violence and sought shelter at the Dunn House, a refuge operated by the Community Works nonprofit organization in Medford.

The first step was the hardest – she had to live without her three young children for two months while researching options and finding a safe place to live.

The second step was to find and accept help. An Oregon Department of Human Services caseworker helped her line up resources to pay a deposit, rent a place to live and qualify for food stamps. The Rogue Educational Achievement (REACH) project – another DHS program – helped her identify career goals, enroll at Rogue Community College, secure a travel voucher so she could afford the commute from Butte Falls and find day care for her children, who ranged in age from 2 months to 8 years.

“There are resources out there, but so many people don’t even know they have an opportunity,” Feetham said. “Generational poverty is pounded into people. These nonprofits (can) become their support.”

Feethan finished her associate degree at RCC and transferred to SOU, but continued to face obstacles – financial and otherwise – while commuting from Butte Falls for classes that began at 8:30 a.m. She collected cans for money, found free items on Craigslist and even learned on YouTube how to repair her car when it wouldn’t start.

But her turnaround was on track, and she was grateful for her education and the guidance she had received. She became involved in her community as a way of giving back, and that led to her participation in the 2017 Jackson County Community Needs Assessment. She wrote a report that identified unmet needs and gaps in community services, and the report is still being used by nonprofit organizations and city governments to determine where efforts should be focused.

“She is inspirational and proof that where there is a will, there’s a way,” said Joan McBee, an SOU business professor and department chair.

Feetham is now a board member for the Butte Falls Community School Partnership and president of the Butte Falls Active Club. She received aid from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, and used some of that money to complete certifications through Oregon State University for grant-writing and nonprofit management. She landed a full-time grant-writing position with ACCESS, which serves low-income, disabled and senior populations in southern Oregon.

“I could write at home and earn a living while going to school,” Feetham said. “Eventually, I had to devote more time to school.”

Feetham – who has received a Ford Family Scholarship and 10 other grants or scholarships during her time at SOU – is now just a couple terms away from graduating, and is nearing her goal of working in the region and remaining involved in her local communities. She is serving as an intern with an accounting firm in the area and proudly points out that she is “breaking the mold of welfare recipients.”


About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University is a medium-sized campus that provides comprehensive educational opportunities with a strong focus on student success and intellectual creativity. Located in vibrant Ashland, Oregon, SOU remains committed to diversity and inclusion for all students on its environmentally sustainable campus. Connected learning programs taught by a host of exceptional faculty provide quality, innovative experiences for students. Visit sou.edu.