President Obama Says Innovation Happening At Boise State Requires Public Investment

Jan 21, 2015

President Barack Obama spoke for just over 30 minutes Wednesday at Boise State University, touting the proposals from his Tuesday State of the Union address aimed at helping the middle class.

Before Obama's speech at the Caven-Williams Sports Complex, he visited the university's New Product Development Lab, which is part of Boise State's College of Engineering.

The president says he met with students making product prototypes on 3-D printers, others working on parts for high-performance motorcycles,  and products using next-generation materials.

"You're the cutting edge of innovation," Obama says. "I gotta say, this is not the stuff I was doing in college."

Obama says the innovation and hands-on learning that takes place in labs like Boise State's New Product Development Lab takes investment.

"The work you do here is one of the reasons why Boise is one of our top cities for tech startups," Obama says. "That means, we shouldn’t just be celebrating your work, we should be investing in it. We should make sure our businesses have everything they need to innovate, expand in this 21st century economy."

Obama held up Boise State's lab as a positive example, even as the school has lost state funding in recent years. Between 2010-2012, Idaho lawmakers have cut college and university funding by 26 percent.

The president took the opportunity to reiterate proposals from his State of the Union address, saying students who go to Boise State University, and schools across the country, shouldn't be drowning in student debt. And he says, not everyone can afford to attend a four-year university.

"There are a lot of American's who don't have the opportunity to study someplace like Boise State," Obama says. "They need something that's local, they need something that's more flexible."

That's why the president wants Congress to make community college free.

With time running out on his presidency, Obama told the Boise crowd he can bridge the ideological gaps that have created gridlock in the nation's capital.

Obama says that like Boise State's overtime victory in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, he too can achieve success late in his presidency.

"I don't need to remind you that big things can happen late in the fourth quarter," says Obama.