Corning Innovators Program

Developing Our Future Innovators

Imagine this…

Hospital curtains made of transparent specialty glass, with touch capabilities so patients can connect with the outside world.

The ceramic substrate concept that’s used in automobiles, now applied to stoves to filter out toxins from open fire cooking that’s common in Asia.

A fishing pole that uses colorful threads of flexible glass fiber to help you see when a fish is caught
on the hook.

These were the three top projects in Corning Display Technologies Taiwan’s (CDTT) first Future Innovator Competition. Initiated in 2015, the contest marked its five-year milestone — igniting the imagination of the more than 4,300 students who have participated across Taiwan.

As one of the company’s STEM-education programs, the Corning Future Innovator Competition encourages young people enrolled in colleges and universities to apply their creative thinking to develop inventive solutions in the area of materials science. The competition challenges college, graduate, and PhD students to observe a real-world problem, then solve it using any of three materials — glass, ceramics or fiber — that are central to Corning’s innovations.

Furthering Skills and Talent Worldwide

At Corning, we’re constantly thinking ahead and looking toward what’s next. This means developing new products and extending existing technologies in unique ways. We invest in the areas where we operate, and we’re always looking to develop the next generation of innovators.

The Corning Future Innovator Competition provides young talent with a platform where they can sharpen their skills and present their ideas. The program supplements STEM higher education with real-life experiences and projects.

According to chief marketing officer, Corning Display and CDTT president Daniel Tseng, “For students who are not thinking about studying materials science or do not know about our glass technologies, this is a great way to get them excited, and potentially interested, in working in the industry – and for Corning.”

Turning Ideas Into Reality

CDTT employees host orientation sessions on college campuses each year, introducing students and faculty to the program. In the first five years of the program, there have been 113 orientation sessions, and Corning’s innovation stories and materials have been introduced to over 5,000 Taiwanese students

The Future Innovator Competition attracts over 300 teams each year. Then, entries are whittled down to the top 20 teams that are invited for a day-long workshop before their final presentations. This gives students valuable one-to-one contact with Corning scientists, who volunteer their time and expertise. Students discuss their ideas, learn more about materials, hone their story-telling skills, and fine tune their projects.

In addition, CDTT works with the students, faculties, and even Corning customers to turn these innovative concepts into realities. Each year, prototypes are made of select award-winning ideas from the competition. For example, CDTT collaborated with Acer to bring to life a new cooling eSport case conceived by Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology. The new functional prototype incorporates Acer's premium gaming desktop along with Corning’s glass products for a durable case cover, colorfully lit from the inside.

In 2018, the program added the Best Paper Award, which encourages Taiwanese graduate and PhD students to focus their studies on materials science and recognizes innovative research on glass applications. So far, more than 60 high-quality thesis papers have been submitted. Each year, a review committee comprised of researchers from Sullivan Park – Corning’s research facility – selects the winning paper.

Spurred by Corning’s history of innovation and its spirit of research and development, the Corning Future Innovator Competition has proven so popular across Taiwan that it has extended to other regions.

Expanding to China

Building on its success in Taiwan, in 2018, the Future Innovators program expanded to the Chinese mainland with a competition in Hefei. Similar to its predecessor in Taiwan, the regional science competition challenged Anhui Province university students to observe a problem they see in the world and solve it using one of three essential Corning materials: glass, ceramics, or optical fiber.

Adrian Chan, director, supply chain management and business systems, was a champion of the competition in China. “The Corning Future Innovator program is our way of supporting the next generation of Anhui scientists, engineers, and business professionals," Adrian said.

In 2019, the competition’s second year of operation, organizers received 149 submissions from over 350 students across 30 educational institutions. The top 10 teams traveled to Chongqing for hands-on one-to-one workshops with Corning scientists. This was followed the next day by the final event. The "Ceramic Dust Mask" program from Chengdu University of Information Technology won the grand prize, as well as garnering the most in-person and online votes for the year’s "Most Popular" award.

"We've been delighted to see the numbers of university students participating in the competition and how they innovatively use three materials to solve problems,” said Adrian Chan. “We believe this educational program is a small, but an important step toward continued collaboration between Corning and the communities in which we operate."

Corning continues to develop the creative minds that will bring inventive thinking to tomorrow’s real-world challenges. We’re working to advance the next generation of innovative leaders who will move industry and the world forward.