2020 Innovators Awards Inductee Profile: Daniel Schultz
February 5, 2021
Daniel Schultz didn’t start his career as a teacher. He came from industry where he originally worked in engineering and would later start his own healthy meal prep business. From there, he got “pulled into high school for entrepreneurship” and has been building the entrepreneurship and engineering programs at Hobart High School since.
Daniel runs an engineering and design thinking class at Hobart high school where he implements design thinking strategies to dovetail with traditional engineering principals. His class has been a hot bed of not just engineered products and inventions, but also innovative solutions that are physically prototyped. In providing such an unusual class (for traditional education), Daniel is growing a culture of innovation at the high school.
How are you teaching innovation?
I have a unique perspective compared to my peers since I didn’t start as a teacher. I went through the whole entrepreneurial path on my own and before that was in the engineering industry for eight years.
I don’t want to say I teach innovation. I like to say that I guide innovation in the classroom. I like to be more of a mentor and give kids as much as freedom as possible. I call it guided discovery. They’re so used to being told everything. “Here’s the info, study the info, take the quiz, take the test.” It is all so standardized. We try and keep it much different than that normal atmosphere. In the beginning the kids hate it, but I eventually win them over.
Another thing is that college is a very expensive place to figure out what it is you like doing. I try to do my best to expose our students to many different things and possibilities. That’s why I love what I’m doing now. My job is to help students learn more about whatever they are passionate about. That’s really what innovation is from the teaching perspective. Giving students the time and energy that others may love to give, but don’t always have the time to do so.
Why is it important what we invest in entrepreneurship training for our students?
That saying, “Do what you love, and you never work a day in your life.” There are a million sayings like that, but none of them really sank in for me until I lived it. And it’s true. When you’re doing something you enjoy, it doesn’t feel like work. But that’s not always so apparent to kids. You must actually experience it. So, the ability, or opportunity, to broaden students’ experiences at an early age and show them what’s possible is so important.
What is something you wish more people knew about Northwest Indiana?
First, it’s a fantastic location. Here in Hobart, we’re only 45 minutes from downtown Chicago, 30 minutes from Michigan City, 15 minutes from the Dunes and about two hours from Indianapolis. Northwest Indiana is a great place to live that is a little undiscovered. Once people realize how great of a location it really is, and see the amount of innovation that’s coming out of here, it’s going to grow.
Daniel Schultz: Teacher, Hobart High School (Hobart, Ind.) was an individual inductee into the Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest. A full list of 2020 inductees can be found here.