Friday, October 23, 2015

Powerboat Designers Talk Entrepreneurship, Innovation at USNA

The U.S. Naval Academy’s Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering Department hosted senior members of Malibu Boats for its fall semester Bock Memorial Lecture in Mahan Hall Oct. 21.

Malibu Boats CEO Jack Springer, Vice President of Product Design Danny Gasper, and Director of Engineering Cory Dugger spoke to ocean engineering and naval architecture majors about innovation and teamwork.

“Part of why we tried to present innovation as a theme today is because in the private sector, to survive you have to innovate,” said Springer. “You have to offer something new, something that is compelling for the customer and especially something that the others don’t have. As a team, we come up with brand new ideas and solutions.”

Malibu Boats is the world’s largest manufacturer of performance sport boats, known for leading the industry with major innovations, including the first onboard computer system in 1993.

The innovation and entrepreneurship of Malibu Boats is something Lt. Michael Hightower, senior instructor in USNA’s Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture Department, believes is a universal trait for leaders.

“The entrepreneurial spirit in general is not just about owning your own company,” said Hightower. “You can be an entrepreneur in any large organization. It’s about innovation and making things better. It’s about identifying a problem, addressing the problem, finding a solution and making that solution as efficient as possible. All those lessons absolutely apply to our Navy.”

Midshipmen ate lunch with Malibu Boats staff, viewed a newly-revealed boat model and spoke with the staff during a question-and-answer session, where they discussed the possibility of future summer internships with the company.

“Growing up, my father owned multiple Malibu boats and worked for a company affiliated with them,” said Midshipman 3rd Class Alexandra Hoiles. “I was really excited when someone asked about interning, because I would love to work with a company that is cutting edge, constantly innovating and bringing new ideas to the market. I would love to see how that is accomplished.”

Springer said he couldn’t have been happier to be at USNA revealing Malibu’s newest model and interacting with the midshipmen.

“It’s an honor and an privilege to be able to speak with these midshipmen here today,” he said. “USNA and the midshipmen are amazing. It’s actually kind of hard to even put into words.”

For 21 years the Bock Lecture has been bringing a wide variety of military and civilian guests to present ideas, innovation, methods and education to midshipmen.

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