Future means 'unlearning many things,' keynoter tells Innovation Summit

Adams Fiber's Darlene Scheuermann, left, chats with Kristen Ritterbusch, John Wood Community College's assistant director of public relations and marketing, during Wednesday's Tri-State Business and Industry Innovation Summit at the college. The summit featured keynote speaker Jack Uldrich and breakout sessions throughout the day. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 14, 2018 6:25 pm Updated: Mar. 14, 2018 7:05 pm

QUINCY -- Jack Uldrich is a self-proclaimed global futurist.

That translates into kind of a new-age fortuneteller, only much more accurate than someone who relies on tea leaves and crystal balls.

"Sixty-five percent of students starting in elementary school today will eventually be working in jobs that don't even exist today," said Uldrich, who was the keynote speaker Wednesday at the Tri-State Business and Industry Innovation Summit at John Wood Community College.

The daylong confab was the second year for an event that was rebranded after 2017's inaugural Tri-State Manufacturing Conference.

Uldrich provided an entertaining presentation in the Mary Ellen Orr Auditorium, keying on the immediate and long-range future.

"We need to be preparing for a world that is about to change," he said. "Mark Twain said education consists of what we have 'unlearned.' We're going to have to unlearn many things."

Uldrich touched on numerous subjects, including how manufacturing, transportation, health care, insurance and agriculture will be changing in the not-too-distant future.

In particular, transportation was a favorite topic for Uldrich. From flying cars that are now being tested, to driverless buses, trucks and cars that are now in use, Uldrich emphasized looking toward the horizon and exponential thinking.

"It is important to know -- and expect -- what is coming next," he said.

Uldrich regularly appears on the Science Channel's "FutureScape" program and on the Discovery Channel's "Inside Out." He also is a frequent contributor on other media outlets, including CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.

Uldrich is a former naval intelligence officer and U.S. Department of Defense official. A resident of Minneapolis, he was director of the Minnesota Office of Strategic and Long-Range Planning.

JWCC President Mike Elbe said, "A conference like this is important because, as a community, we need to productively plan for the future."

He said it is vital to "spend enough time" positioning local businesses for what lies ahead.

Other speakers at the summit included assistant professor Honey Zimmerman of Western Illinois University, who concentrated on logistics, and technical specialist Dimitrios Saranteas of Peoria-based IMEC, who spoke on digital manufacturing and design.

Joe Tracy, chief executive officer of Dot Foods in Mount Sterling, talked about corporate culture and employee retention, while Daniel Sewell of Alpine Security in O'Fallon discussed cybersecurity.

April Glosser, founder and president of Thrive Market Intelligence in Rochelle and director of Blackhawk Bank in Beloit, Wis., spoke on market intelligence. Michael Barth of ThyssenKrupp in Danville talked about career pathways. ThyssenKrupp is a diversified industrial group headquartered in Germany.

Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore says Wednesday's summit was important because it allowed a distinct glimpse of the future.

"We can see how things are going to be changing and how technology will be growing exponentially," Moore said.

JWCC partnered with the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center, Missouri Enterprise, the Great River Economic Development Foundation, Workforce Innovation Board of Western Illinois, Iowa State University Center for Industrial Research and Service, and Quincy University to host the conference.

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